Food For Thought

Each month, our dining columnist gives you all the news that’s fit to dish. Find out the newest hotspots and the latest closings, as well as the tastiest events in town for October.

Get ready for giving that tastes good. On 26 October, some of the country’s top chefs, sommeliers and mixologists are joining forces at Madison (3 Fenyang Lu, near Huaihai Lu. Tel: 6437 0136) to create the Best of the Best Charity Dinner. The participants include host Austin Hu, as well as Goga’s Brad Turley, Liquid Laundry’s Sean Jorgenson, Mercato’s Sandy Yoon, Union Trading Company’s Yao Lu and more culinary and cocktail stars from Beijing, Xiamen and Toronto. The 10-dish tasting menu with full pairings will run at RMB 888, and all proceeds go to “Young Hospitality Professional Awards”, which sends one lucky recipient to Canada for a month of training.

Also serving up a slice of charitable giving is the 4th annual Chifan for Charity, set for 15 November. They’re still on the lookout for more hosts, so sign up now to be a part of the largest China food and beverage event to benefit charity. Last year they raised over RMB 400000, and they’re hoping to beat that to benefit charity partners Heart to Heart, Shanghai Young Bakers and Educating Girls of Rural China.

With all the hype surrounding the opening of Austin Hu & Sololatte’s Bottega (Xintiandi, Unit 2B, Bldg 22, 181 Taicang Lu, near Huangpi Nan Lu. Tel: 6352 7791), it seemed a superhuman feat was necessary for the mozzarella bar to meet expectations - yet somehow they have exceeded them. We ate about half the menu on our first trip there, and had nothing but hits the whole nightlong. The table favourite was the umami-laden Coreana pizza. Topped with kimchi, pork neck bacon and stracciatella (that deliciously stretched mozz), the thin charred crust pizza was inspired by Ms Solo Latte, Kyeong Joo Lee, a native South Korean who lived in Milan for over a decade.

Bottega might be the biggest opening last month, but it’s not the only one of note – or the only one from Austin Hu. The chef that must never sleep also teamed up with Spread the Bagel for a year-long pop-up in the YOLO Juice space (611 Nanchang Lu, near Xiangyang Lu). Madison is supplying the smoked meats (think turkey, brisket and bacon), and Strictly Cookies’ desserts and Lanna and MQ Coffee will be available to round out your meal with cookies and coffee.

Filling the space left behind by Food Central, Hunter Gatherer (308 Anfu Lu, near Wukang Lu) is a new grocer-cumrestaurant with a focus on healthy eats. Try their “Go Nuts” bar and take home some DIY almond butter.

Serving up Italian fare is Mangi (133 Fuxing Xi Lu, near Yongfu Lu. Tel: 6433 4261), brought to you by the guys who pour the oversized glasses of wine at La Vite. The bistro softly opened in late September, and will be fighting the good fight from the spot that killed off Mistral and Belga, with a full menu of organic Australian beef dishes, homemade pasta and olive oil dressed salads.

For seriously good (and cheap) bibimbap, try Shanghai Oppa (1166 Yan’an Xi Lu, near Panyu Lu) around the back of the Metrobank building. The Korean restaurant opened in late June and specialises in the mixed rice dish.

Also new is Mei-Xin Jade Garden (6/F, Grand Gateway Mall, 1 Hongqiao Lu, near Zhaojiabang Lu. Tel: 6443 8088), a welcome relief if you’ve tried to make a reservation at the Jing’an Shangri-La location (they were booked until February 2015 last we checked, making them the hardest reservation to get in town besides Ultraviolet). The oversized pineapple buns are a must-order, as is pretty much everything on the dim sum menu.

Setting up shop where Noodle Bull left a couple months ago is Cha Cha Wan (A Mansion, 1/F, 291 Fumin Lu, near Changle Lu), a Thai restaurant you may have heard of if you’ve spent some time on Hong Kong’s Hollywood Road. The site is still under construction, but the sign boldly states it's the first northern Thai restaurant in China.

After a hotel-wide redesign, URBN (183 Jiaozhou Lu, near Xinzha Lu. Tel: 5153 4600) is planning to open BeerGRDN in the first floor dining area and outdoor courtyard. Expect a bistro-style menu with Italian accents and American flavours, and they’re planning on pouring Shanghai’s most comprehensive beer list.

Already drawing in the crowds for dinner, Tomatito (2F, 99 Taixing Lu, near Wujiang lU. Tel: 6259 8671) has set their sights on the brunch set. Enticing the weekend crowds is their tapas platter for RMB 98 per person from 12:30-3:30.

And it’s not Shanghai without a restaurant closing, although Stubb’s demise doesn’t appear permanent. They’re getting rid of the original owners and looking for new investors who will be selling the famous barbecue sauce in grocery stores around town.