Hiya at The Shanghai EDITION

Add: 27/F The Shanghai EDITION, 199 Nanjing Dong Road, Shanghai 南京东路199号 艾迪逊酒店27楼
Tel: +86 (21) 5368 9531
Hours: [lunch] 11:30am-2:30pm; [dinner] 5:30pm-11pm
Price: 400-600 (prices below subject to 15% service charge)
Visited: October 2018
Will return: Yes

There is simply no getting around how frying seems to show up everywhere on the succinct, two-page menu at Hiya, a modern Japanese restaurant at the newly opened Shanghai EDITION Hotel. But in the end, I couldn’t bring myself to mind — not when the chef is such a virtuosic frier.

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For starters, everything is greaseless enough to barely leave a mark on the pages — comic strips, upon closer inspection — that they sit upon. But their ability to amaze and impress comes from the many nuances that the kitchen manages to convey with the technique.

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Chicken karaage are encased in golden, jagged shells, a rugged terrain that crunches with a stunningly airy lightness. Sweet stems of broccoli, fried to the crunchy-tender threshold, are wrapped in a flimsy blond gauze that melts in perfect sync with a dusting of aged parmesan, whose fermented depth is echoed in a punchy kimchi dip alongside.

IMG_5786-EditTriple yellow chicken karaage, lemon, salt (88)

IMG_5983-EditBroccoli tempura, kimchi dressing, aged parmesan (88)

There are two other tempuras on the menu, neither of which is what one might expect. The wagyu is minced and enveloped in a soft crust, turning into flavor bombs of rich satisfaction that take their dimension from some gently smoky bonito flakes on top. Nuggets of black cod are wrapped in shiso leaves for lightness, and cocooned within nests of potato threads for ballast — this was a revelation.

IMG_5783-EditWagyu beef agemono, Kewpie mayo, katsuobushi (48)

IMG_5994-EditIMG_6007-EditBlack cod tempura, shiso, yuzu and egg emulsion (88)

Even dishes that you wouldn’t expect to have anything to do with frying employ this exquisite, golden magic. Pearlescent slices of sea bass are rolled around delicate filaments of fried potato; the sweetness unfolds slowly, elegantly, livened up with the zesty brightness of myoga ginger. Grilled black cod is joined by a blanket of crispy crumbs in a symphony of rich, melting delight. Piled on its side, green beans dressed with a punchy black sesame sauce run the risk of stealing the show; but I can’t say the same about the cabbage-wrapped gyozas, which taste somewhat half-hearted.

IMG_5769-EditSea bass roll, myoga & shiso salad, crispy potato (118)

IMG_5813-EditIMG_5815-EditBlack cod, summer green beans, kingfish gyoza (288)

Bluefin tuna tartare is seasoned delicately with flecks of chives and a whisper of wasabi. Flakes of sea salt arc across the clean tuna like little bolts of lightning, accentuating the Oscietra caviar on top. For such an immaculate creation, any vessel would do just fine — the kitchen provides three, each as compelling as the next: fragile sheets of potato chips that both shatter and melt, tempura seaweed for an extra oceanic depth, steamed brioche buns that act as a warm, soft counterpoint to the precise contours.

IMG_5960-EditTuna tartareBluefin tuna tartare, premium Oscietra caviar, fresh wasabi, steamed brioche (258)

Then, there are the temacos, a curious, ingenious temaki-and-taco cross-breed made up of gorgeous contrasts: warm rice and cool fish, crisp seaweed and soft filling, soothing avocado cream and spicy mayo, all at the same time. A salmon tamaco filled with both raw and grilled salmon practically thrums with energy, topped with spicy kimchi underpinned by a kick of wasabi. The one cradling slow-cooked pork shoulder and roasted pineapple is a thrillingly balanced hat tip to taco al pastor. The tuna temaco with scallion and tobiko is clean, if unmemorable, but a vegetable temaco tastes surprisingly cheerful with its sunny sweetness of tomato miso. You pick up one of these with your hands, tilt your head, and eat it as you would a taco. I had never felt this inelegant at a Japanese restaurant before — I couldn’t have cared less.

IMG_5775-EditIMG_5777-EditTemacos: salmon; tuna; slow-cooked pork shoulder; seasonal vegetables (68-98 / pc)

Naturally, all these fried dishes need to be consumed as soon as possible. That, coupled with a sharing format, creates challenges in pacing for both chefs and servers that have yet to be entirely overcome. But I found the hurried pace easier to overlook on account of their charming service, which strikes a rare balance of warmth and professionalism.

Interior

As with the two other restaurants in the hotel, Hiya is the brainchild of Mr. Jason Atherton, whose other restaurant in Shanghai, The Commune Social, remains a local favorite. The Shanghai EDITION marks the third collaboration between the British chef-restauranteur and the design hotel brand, following the success of Berners Tavern in London and The Clocktower in New York. Helming the kitchen at Hiya is Mr. Christopher Pitts, formerly of Table No. 1 at the Waterhouse Hotel at South Bund, another Atherton restaurant.

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Looking at his resumé, you might not expect such delicate fry-manship from Mr. Pitts, whose cooking, until now, has been almost exclusively European. But then, nothing about Hiya really conforms to expectations. Modeled after Mr. Atherton’s former London restaurant Sosharu, Hiya is inspired by the Japanese izakaya. There is something in that with the vivacious crowd and the loose, laid-back vibes.

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Yet izakayas don’t usually perch 27 floors above the ground; nor do they sit in boutique hotels with such chic, polished design. A joint effort between EDITION’s Ian Schrager and local design powerhouse Neri&Hu, Hiya has a sleekness and lightness during the day that borrows from Japanese color palettes. Natural light streams in from floor-to-ceiling windows looking out towards a sweeping river view. At night, dim lights and flickering candles throw soft shadows upon rich wood and dark marble, turning the space welcoming and intimate.

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Nor is izakaya cooking often as inspired or as finely tuned as Hiya’s. Cuts of sashimi arrive at the table already seasoned, each with its own condiments: akami tuna with bamboo and wasabi, salmon with sesame paste and lemon, yellowtail amberjack with chives. Chicken wings are laboriously deboned and stuffed with a deeply savory mince; their dark, rich glaze glistens sensually even in the dimly lit dining room.

IMG_5768-EditAssorted sashimi plate (118 / 3 pcs, 218 / 6 pcs)

IMG_5979-EditStuffed chicken wings, pickled turnip and chili (38 / pc)

The beef gyudon is the kind of homey comfort that we never actually manage to achieve at home. A server will mix everything together at the table, breaking the slow-cooked egg yolk to bind together gossamer ribbons of raw wagyu, plump bites of shiitake mushroom, crunchy slivers of pickled onion and brittle shards of toasted garlic. This is the only evidence you need that a little resourcefulness can raise a pot of steamed rice to a cause for celebration.

IMG_5794-EditIMG_5800-EditIMG_5807-EditBeef gyudon, slow cooked egg, steamed rice, shiitake mushroom, pickled onion (for 2; 248)

Just as worth celebrating is the lavishly creamy rice pudding topped with strips of chewy coconut for texture and mango coulis for sweetness; the slightly dense matcha mille crêpe, not so much. But I wouldn’t turn down the chocolate and sesame roll cake; spiked headily with whiskey, this is as good an assurance as any that the night is still young.

IMG_5869-EditJapanese rice, coconut, mango (88)

IMG_5877-EditMatcha mille crêpe, matcha sorbet, raspberry cream (88)

IMG_5878-EditIMG_5886-EditChocolate and sesame roll, warm whiskey sauce (88)

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Posted by:journeys of a gourmand

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