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Where We’re Eating: Mind Yakiniku, Latina Parrilla, La Siesta

Three new recommendations to round out your year and start 2023 on a full stomach and buzzed.
2022-12-30 18:00:00
On the Radar is a SmartShanghai column profiling new restaurants, bars, and other new places we find interesting. Sometimes we stumble upon these places, and sometimes we are invited, but in both cases, we are never paid to write an opinion, rather, these are our honest first impressions, and not a formal review.

It's our last new restaurants roundup of 2022 and so, for the last time this year, here's three new places to check out.

New openings, new beginnings, and hopefully, good omens for the new year.

2023 gonna be our year, Shanghai!

Mind Yakiniku

4-5/F, K.wah Centre, 1028 Huaihai... View ListingTaxi Printout

Riding the wave of something of a trend in Shanghai, here's Mind Yakiniku, the latest in a minor wave of new yakiniku restaurants to pop up on our radar in the past little while. If you're not familiar, yakiniku is Japanese barbecue cuisine, usually charcoal and fire, with bite-sized portions bringing the focus to the sumptuousness and quality of the meat in question. It's a lot of humble Japanese reverence to quality food product, correct BBQ'ing method, sauce pairings, drinks pairings, and group dining with colleagues, family, and / or friends. It's fun but upscale. Something for a special occasion. (Bring your wallet is what we're saying.)

Mind Yakiniku assumes the space of the erstwhile Element Fresh in the same building as Liquid Laundry on Donghu Lu. They've got that nice rooftop patio but that's not open yet — maybe in the summer — so dining is indoors in the tasteful and slightly serious mix of iron and wood tones, metal gratings, screen doors, and deep leather you usually get in a serious meat-oriented place. Design tastefully done by MTM Design — prolific interiors firm also behind el willy, High Yaki, and Heritage by Madison, among others. There's a wine and sake cellar at the entrance; bar seating shows off the whiskey selection; booth seating is available for more casual meats; a handful of private rooms take up the majority of the space; and they've got three fancy VIP rooms with great views out into downtown Shanghai for... VIP occasions.

Mind Yakiniku is charcoal and fire grill Japanese traditionalism but there's a bit of local pride in that all the meat — Wagyu that is — is entirely sourced from Show Dragon Wagyu Cattle Ranch in Dalian. On the menu is beef, beef, beef, more beef, and the accoutrements to beef. The entry level order and something manageable for two people, is the daily wagyu beef platter, which is four different cuts of beef sliced up and cooked for you with various house-made sauces and wasabi. The star of the show is the rib eye steak, which is dazzlingly marbled and such a serious deal that the head chef comes out and shows it to you, turning it over in his hands lovingly like a dinosaur egg, and then salting it ceremoniously at your table. Their other specialties include the obligatory Wagyu beef steak sando, a chicken pot rice dish, and other beefy offshoots like the Beef Mapo Tofu.

Prices are... pricey! Dipping into the menu even in a cursory way (which you wouldn't be doing) would probably put you at around 800rmb per person, especially with the booze, of which there is some nice wine and sake options. It's for special occasions for sure. But the service was excellent — we were looked after by four different people doing four different restaurant specializations — and it's an option to look at if you want to expose some friends to fancy Japanese BBQ done really well in Shanghai.

Latina Parrilla

Unit 111-112, Level 1, East Block,... View ListingTaxi Printout

Latina is a popular Brazilian steakhouse chain with six locations around town and counting. They're Shanghai famous for basically introducing the style of churrasco bbq (meat on swords) to the city way back in the late '90s and have remained a consistent go-to if you're looking for a lot, a lot, a lot of food for not a lot of money. Everyone's been at least once. The deal is you pay a flat price for the salad bar and buffet and then chefs / servers with different cuts of meat circulate the dining room and slice off portions on to your plate. If you're an avid meat eater, it's a real scene.

So Latina Parrilla is not that. Or rather, it's more than that. This is Latina's more upscale brand, which is combining the wood fire Brazilian churrasco with Argentinian Parrilla-style bbq, asado. So it's big cuts of meat over flickering embers, gaucho style. The result is even more variety and a South American BBQ experience that tips to an upscale dining sort of thing. Their head griller is Conrado Beckermann, who comes from Uruguay originally, and he'll tell you about sourcing the meat for Latina Parrilla, and that seems to be about 90% of it: quality cuts of meat. He's sourced his down to the individual farm with product flying in from Argentina, Uruguay, Australia, Spain, New Zealand, and wherever else quality genetics can be found.

On the menu is extensive, extensive, extensive a la carte options and sides, coming at you more like a 5-star hotel BBQ brunch. But to do it up right, you're going to want to get a tasting menu, which is basically Meat & Seafood's Greatest Hits.

To wit: "Classic" is 399rmb. That comes with six cuts of Angus beef, morcilla, chorizo, lamb, chicken, pork, and grilled pineapple.

The "Deluxe" is 599rmb and comes with all that PLUS halibut, tiger prawn, grilled oyster, grilled scallop, grilled octopus, and calamari.

The "Prime" is 799rmb. It comes with everything on the "Classic" PLUS Moana oyster, caviar, New Zealand scampi, 5J Iberico ham, grilled lobster, M8+ Wagyu beef.

And these all come with sides — bread, salads, and choice of appetizer. It's kind of insane. It's like if you had to order your last meal and you just said ‘give me one of everything'.

So yeah. True to Latina's market angle, it's a hell of a lot of food for not a lot of money — maybe just a little bit more money considering the cuts of meat that they are flying in from all around the world to be on your dinner plate. They've got an extensive list of South American and Brazilian cocktails too.

If you want to go nuts on a five-star South American BBQ dinner, and then never have to eat ever again, it's one to book.

Unit 111-112, Level 1, East Block,... View ListingTaxi Printout


600 Shaanxi Bei Lu, near Xinzha Lu View ListingTaxi Printout

Taking over a storefront kinda space at the prime location of Shaanxi Lu is La Siesta, which just opened about five minutes ago from Chef Sergio Moreno (Commune Social) and Isaac Ye (one of the Tres Perros). I've never actually been to Tres Perros but I know one thing: Spanish people love Tres Perros. So they must be doing something right. Whenever I'm scootering past Tres Perros, it looks like they've got a good crowd and people are having a good time. ¡Salud!

La Siesta takes a tour of southern Spain, serving traditional, family style, small plates, with heavy influences from Andalusian grandmothers and Northern African cuisine — tangier, saucier flavors. Lots of things cooked in pots, maybe. They've got a small but pristine white space, accented with some greenery and pattern work, with a bar and kitchen on the first floor and group seating on the second. It's an intimate environment. Like a house party. Conducive to meeting new people, especially when you have Sergio and Isaac there, greeting people, and telling you about the food and booze. Warm welcomes and chato de la casa. So far so good

Starting with the booze. A very manageable one-pager menu with some great Tintos and Blancos, Cava, House Coctels, Jerez, and cheap cheap Cerveza — 25rmb and 30rmb. Nice. This being a Spanish place, gin is well represented for the obligatory fishbowl glasses of gintonicgintonicgintonic.55rmb for Bombay up to 110rmb for Le Tribute. Very nice.

Despite just opening, the food menu is coming along really nicely with a great selection of comfort food tapas, served with southern Spanish tastes. We were loving the "Betenjenas Con Miel" (deep fried eggplant); the "Gambas Al Pi-Pi" (Andalusian garlic prawns); the "Tosta De Bacalao En Adobo" (cod fish adobo style toast); and especially the "Albondigas De La Abuella" (meatballs like grandma used to make with almond sauce).

They always say this but really: don't skip dessert. We had a delish grandma style apple cake and a flan that was super rad.

Damage-wise, all the dishes are between 30 and 60rmb or so. You could have a fun meal with plenty of drinks for just a couple hundred RMB.

Kitchen is open until 11pm — great option for later snacks, wine, gintonicsgintonicsgintonics, and beers.

Super friendly. Lovely spot. Interesting food and drinks. Don't skip this one!

What more do you need for 2023.

Onwards and upwards!