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[The List:] Where Hipsters Eat - April '24

The guide to Shanghai's coolest hipster restaurants and bars this season.
2024-04-23 17:00:00

Yaya's Pasta Bar

Yaya's is a neighborhood Pasta Bar that serves up fresh pasta dishes with pan-Asian accents in the sauces and prep methods. The Yaya's team, lead by founders Andrew Moo (Le Daily, the Taste Collective), Dan Li (Bird) and Mike Liu (Lucky Mart), pride themselves on serving "not your nonna's pasta" with sauces and noodles proudly made in house, bolstered by flavor and technique influences from both Western and Chinese cuisine. The environment is small and relaxed; great for casual meals or no-pressure date nights out.

Bastard

Bastard is down in that alley on Jiaozhou Lu where also Bonica and that new Rac place is. It serves fatherless contemporary Chinese cuisine. Or maybe contemporary Chinese cuisine that comes from several different fathers and you don't know which is which. On a one-page menu of sharing dishes, expect several different genres of Chinese cuisine, remixed with pan-Asian and Western influences to a wholly singular creative result. It's a small, one room dining space — reservations recommended — ideal for hip dates and anyone looking for a fresh and new encounter with modern Chinese cuisine.

Sage Gastro

An easily missed, hole in the way gastronomy resto that has won the hearts of many in the city. It's right next to Cometa (another "if you know, you know" popular place) and owned by the same owners. Right on Suzhou creek with spartan interiors, and just 22 seats, outfitted with a fully professional kitchen. Here, the focus is on food and flavors. Singaporean chef Jun Nishiyama curates a tightmenu of just 6 starters and 4 main courses, withrotating specials on offer. Small portions and bigon flavor, the kitchen brings the firepower to thefew dining patrons that secured a spot on the weekends.

PASS RESIDENCE

A simple Italian restaurant driven by a wood-fired oven hiding out in the kitchen courtesy of the OHA group, Shanghai's household name when it comes to hip restaurants. The short menu at Pass Residence is mostly antipasti, pizza and pasta, with a couple salads on flat bread, and is not fancy but decent stuff. The real highlight is the environment: a bombed-out industrial space with nice soft furnishings, and a walk-in wine "cellar" where you pick out a bottle for the evening.

Juke

Sitting on Dongping Lu, Juke is a small, neighborhood eatery serving Mediterranean dishes with an Asian twist, headed by Polish Chef Michael J - who previously worked in both HK and SH. On the menu is a range of fusion food, such as yellowtail, ravioli, calamari, etc. They are crafted by ingredients from all around China. Top orders also include their rice pudding. They have a wide array of wines and a few cocktails. Price isn't cheap, but the place would be a cozy, intimate go-to for date nights. Don't forget to check out their lovely patio in warm weather!

Bake No Title

A hip, trendy bakery cafe during the day -- the Banana Cinnamon Rolls and classic Cardamom Rolls are their best sellers. They also offer some bagels, sourdough bread, toast, and more. From 11am to 2pm, they serve open-faced sandwiches. In the evenings, the space transforms into a bistro restaurant where they collaborate with some Shanghai eateries to curate the menu. They recently partnered with ura's Spanish chef, Borja, to introduce a pop-up set menu priced at 780rmb per person, with limited availability. For inquiries about their evening menu, you can add them on WeChat at bnt_232. They are pet-friendly.

Oha Eatery

One of the oldest hipster friendly restaurants in Shanghai, and what gave the OHA group it's name. A tiny counter restaurant with 20-something seats and a bold, experimental menu of Guizhou-influenced western food by group chef Blake Thornley. Belongs to the restaurant group behind Pass Residence, Dead Poet and Bar No. 3. Strong focus on natural wines.

The Merchants

The Merchants is three venues in one: a cafe, a fine dining restaurant, and a cocktail / wine bar on the second floor. Opened in a converted villa, they've got a beautiful ground floor view of a Spanish-ish colonial villa and a 150-year old tree in the back. The building used to serve as the writing department headquarters of the Shanghai Film Studio. A Beijing-based wine importer by trade, for this Shanghai expansion, their angle in the kitchen is house smoked and dry-aged everything, in particular the dry aged chicken, which is one of the dishes they're known for. The majority of the dishes are prepared over a wood flame grill. Eating is sharing style and the main dining area seats maybe 25, in a warm, classy, and comfortable environment, with a few private rooms upstairs. The cocktail bar upstairs is also nice with an award-winning team in from Shenzhen behind the drinks, taking it all very, very seriously, and making great cocktails.

The Commune Social

The Commune Social has been around for ages and is almost too well-known / old for being called a hipster hangout these days. A contemporary tapas, dessert and cocktail bar, The Commune Social is a beautifully designed establishment with modern, industrial-style interiors and a dreamy outdoor space. It remains as one of the city's hippest, best brunch spots in town. Calling ahead recommended, but no reservations for Brunch on Saturday and Sunday. It's first come, first served.

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