New restaurants consistently pop up in Shanghai — from Western outposts to authentic eateries. We’ve had our eye on quite a few this year, eagerly awaiting their arrival. Here are five spots to check out this spring and summer.
Construction held up this London import for nearly a year, but it finally opened its doors on March 29. Hakkasan is a British-born chain of upmarket contemporary Cantonese restaurants with branches in the Middle East, India and several in the U.S., including the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Miami outpost. This is the brand’s first foray into China, and it has secured a tony Bund address, in the same building as Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Mr & Mrs Bund. Is bringing a Chinese restaurant to China like selling ice to Eskimos? Though Hakkasan is hugely successful worldwide, its owners have made adjustments to ensure that it’s well received here, adding a slew of local dishes to the otherwise shared global menu. Décor at the Bund-side restaurant skews accordingly toward Art Deco and Shanghai Golden Age. On the menu, you’ll find refined versions of classic Cantonese and Shanghainese dishes, such as street food staple shengjianbao (pan-fried soup dumplings), available in pork or vegetarian. Hakkasan has been lauded for its cocktails, such as the Vesper martini (Absolut Elyx vodka, Plymouth Gin and blood-orange-infused Lillet Blanc), and diners in Shanghai can expect the bar to turn out properly stiff drinks. Open
Don’t judge this book by its cover: Though The Cut is located inside a mall, that mall is gleaming luxury temple IAPM, a swish Hong Kong import dotted with destination eateries. One of them is American steakhouse Morton’s, and The Cut aims to lean a bit more colorful and affordable than its fourth-floor competitor. The brains behind this meatery is VOL Group, best known for running Shanghai mainstays Mr & Mrs Bund, Ultraviolet and Bar Rouge. The restaurant’s menu is short and sweet; the only cut of meat served here will be rib-eye, available in four varieties. The Cut’s staff ate its way through 30-plus types of rib-eye from the United States, Australia, Japan and China, comparing age, feed type and marbling. Though there’s a well-stocked salad bar, The Cut is unapologetically a carnivore’s cave. Opening late April
Jean-Georges Vongerichten is no stranger to Asian cuisine, having opened Japanese, Chinese and Southeast Asian-fusion restaurants. Now he’s trying his hand at Korean, with a 90-seat restaurant in the same building as a trio of his Western eateries — Mercato, Nougatine and Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Jean Georges Shanghai. Starchitect firm Neri & Hu, who also did Mercato, transformed the former Evian Spa space into an homage to kimchi and barbecue (hence the name Chi-Q). Utilizing its trademark reclaimed wood and concrete as well as stone accents, Neri & Hu turned the once stark, white space into one of rustic luxury. Korean barbecue is a meal best shared with a large group, and the long communal table in the main atrium lends itself to endless toasts and rounds of well-marbled beef. Each table has its own grill, but novices will feel safe in the hands of the immaculately trained staff. A Jean-Georges pedigree means the meat, seafood and array of Korean spirits, including soju (a distilled rice liquor) and makgeolli (a sweet, milky alcohol made from rice and wheat) will be top-shelf. A selection of seasonal kimchi, hearty stews and noodle dishes will round out the menu. Opening May
Union Trading Company
Food and beverage wunderkinds Austin Hu and Yao Lu have somewhat of a cult following at Hu’s nouveau American restaurant, Madison. With Hu helming the kitchen and Lu at the bar, the pair feeds and hydrates an army of voracious, parched expats and locals. Union, Hu says, “is a union of Yao and myself, something that we’ve been talking about for ages.” The American-style cocktail bar and kitchen will serve delightful small plates that will have dieters running for the hills. Dig into the Green Eggs and Ham — crispy ham cakes smothered in herbs and paired with deviled egg yolks — or succumb to the red velvet doughnut holes topped with cream cheese frosting. The extensive cocktail menu stars time-honored favorites like a Blood and Sand, with Johnnie Walker Black, Luxardo cherry liqueur, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino and orange. Lu and the crew also will barrel age and bottle several cocktails. Opening May
This is the newest venue from restaurateur Kelley Lee and her business partner Lee Tseng, the duo behind Boxing Cat Brewery, one of China’s first microbreweries. The 200-seat Liquid Laundry is a lounge, cocktail bar, pizza parlor, brewpub and dining room rolled into one. Its now de rigueur industrial-chic style sets itself apart with customized playful touches such as flashing neon lettering above the bar and cheeky phrases stenciled onto the bathroom walls. Beer fanatics will flock to the gleaming tank where brewmaster Michael Jordan toils away, and to the craft beer wall’s 15 taps, where exclusive Liquid Laundry, Boxing Cat, imported and local craft brews will be on rotation. Cocktails, with a focus on rye whiskies and American bourbons, come from Beijing-based Australian mixologist Warren Pang. The kitchen, under the watchful eye of executive chef Sean Jorgensen, will churn out wood-fired pizzas and an impressive array of housemade charcuterie — sausages, cured bacon, pancetta, duck prosciutto, chorizo and aged salami. Vegetarians, take note: Liquid Laundry will also make all of its own ice creams in-house. Opening May
Photo Courtesy of Hakkasan Shanghai and Union Trading Company