Lots of variety out there this week for new places to get a meal at. Variety: the spice of life!
Also spice: the spice of life...
YAK AND YETI
The interesting and unique new table opportunity this week is Yak and Yeti, a one-room plus small terrace venue that serves "Himalayan cuisine" tapas-style paired with inspired cocktails from your man Anup Rajbhandari. This one's of particular note to people who pay attention to behind-the-scenes restaurant and bar stuff because Rajbhandari has been attached to some of the bigger name Shanghai restaurants and bars over his 20 year career in Shanghai F&B — off the top of our head T8, Bar Rouge, and Sakaba Malabar — and this concept sees the industry veteran scaling back a bit and mining his own background and upbringing for inspiration.
So, yeah, this is the latest in a recent trend in Shanghai in which we're seeing a lot more smaller scale, owner-operated places coming from a place personal experience and honesty. Thumbs up. Stick to what you know and give the people what you love. You haven't been to a Himalayan restaurant before in town, and now you can, trying out several dishes and flavor combinations that you can't get anywhere else.
"Himalayan cuisine" is a what they're calling it as a mashup of small but sharable home-style dishes coming from Nepal, India, Yunnan, and Tibet. The interiors are dark and chic, almost club-ish, and guests — 25 people max — are arranged around a central cocktail bar set-up with dishes coming out of the kitchen in the back. 14 items on the soft open menu now with more like 22 in total when they're fully up and running. Starting off small, you're looking at things like Steamed or Sweet Sour Mt. Everest Momo, Pani Puri, Dal Fry, Tibetan Shabeley dishes — dumplings and skewers — into Chicken and Pork Sekuwa, Grilled Fish, Chicken Curry, Chicken Biryani — more substantial Yunnan and India mains — into the star of the menu, the Yak Sukuti — sauted dried yak meat sourced from Chengdu.
That's the thing you have to get obviously. It's in the name of the restaurant.
Other dishes you should get: the Grilled Pork Sekuwa — marinated pork and spices. Really amazing. The Himalayan Nachos, which is a fun side that is served with papadum. The Chicken Briyani, and the Sweet and Sour Momo. That's enough to get into it.
For drinks we recommend 7 or 8 "Yeti Spitzes", which is the house variation on a spritz, made with lichee liquor, rice wine, and Prosecco. Serious, get 7 or 8. Right about then is when they start working the best. 68rmb.
Damage is 250-300rmb per person. It's a small place so you need to reserve for their two seatings a night but they stay open late and accommodate walk-ins. Look out for lunch sets, brunch, and patio seating when they get going in a few weeks.
Just in time for the warming weather comes Solo Garden, a very nice looking and very photogenic looking restaurant and cafe that serves super straightforward Italian food, wine, and coffee in an environment that itself is exactly the main thing — but the prices and pizzas are decent enough to make it not a wash. In a prime location on Changle Lu right across from Le Saleya, the venue wraps around a patch of grass off the street in renovated architecture that looks more like a boutique art gallery than a restaurant. It's clean, minimal, understated, lit quite nicely, and pretty damn charming.
So that's the main thing. It's really photogenic.
That ain't a bad thing. They have a wood burning pizza oven which translates to some pizzas which are actually pretty decent, with good ingredients and fine execution. Of the eight regional styles, we went with a "Pizza DOP with Burrata" which was fair at 128rmb — and the most expensive one. They also have sections in Stuzzichini, Antipasti, and Griglia, which are translate to some straightforward seafood and assorted platter-type add-ons you can get to supplement the pizza. They were out of all the seafood seasonal stuff (unhappy face emoji) so we just got the Tartare for 68rmb which was just okay.
The wine list is quite alright with several labels in the 200-300rmb range. Here is the most important piece of information in that regard. They're slinging a bottle of Babich Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc for 208rmb.
Damage is much lowered than expected. 100rmb-200rmb per person. Maybe hit it up in the off hours if you're keen. The uniqueness of the spot itself is already drawing crowds.
This last one is more of a public service announcement for people who live around Changping and Jiangning intersection in northern Jing'an. A new gigantic and daunting mall has just opened up in your neighborhood, which means your dining options have increased to include a foodcourt that has a Taco Bell, a Pizza Street, German restaurant Ambra House, and a Dr. Curry in it, in addition to a pretty nice Alimentari on the street level. Something like the 10th Alimentari to open in Shanghai, this one is called "Piazza" a reference to the fact that their location overlooks the giant communal square of the Moho Mall. (They don't, in fact, have any pizza on the menu, which you might think if you don't have a background in Italian or architecture.)
Alimentari Piazza is the same formula as the other ones: handmade pastas, burrata dishes, deli sandwiches, a decent brunch section, and an imminently inoffensive environment in which to drink bottles of wine or spritzes in for the afternoon or evening. It's location overlooking the square and it big open windows means it's actually quite nice and not too impersonal in its mall setting.
So there you go. If you live in the area, you've got access to an Alimentari as well as a secret basement Taco Bell if you want to sneak a taco session in a basement foodcourt with no one watching, wallowing in your own shame and crapulence. No judgements.
As to the mall itself: it's huge. It's baffling. It's half full. There is a rock climbing wall in it. There is an archery place. If you're into unfettered urban expansion, it's one to explore and contemplate modern life.