Brunch has become a rather predictable affair in Shanghai, yet Coquille manages to turn our expectation on its head. Under owner Mr. John Liu and chef Mr. Patrick Leano, Coquille’s production of this weekend midday meal is not so much a Benedict-and-avocado-toast brunch as it is an excuse to bask in Mr. Leano’s version of indulgent French fare for those of us too impatient to wait for dinnertime.
[Shanghai] Canton Disco at The Shanghai EDITION
Named after a legendary Hong Kong nightclub in the ’80s, this quirky restaurant at the Shanghai Edition hotel reaches beyond the normal boundaries of Cantonese cooking in almost every way. Executive chef Mr. Jowett Yu is singularly skilled at lacing his food with a curious and engaging blend of fun, rebellion, and a gentle dose of nostalgia.
[Shanghai] Polux by Paul Pairet
At first glance, Polux’s menu might seem somewhat pedestrian for Mr. Paul Pairet, who is probably best known for his accolade-studded, avant-garde restaurant Ultraviolet. But this repertoire of simple Gallic comfort food is expressed in a strong typeface and the occasional exclamation point. Even the simplest things manage to surprise, perfect in a way that we no longer expect, reminding us all the more emphatically what a formidable team occupies the kitchen.
[Shanghai] C Pearl
A sprawling, generic-looking mall on Century Avenue in Pudong seems an unlikely place for culinary distinction, yet that is precisely where I encountered one of my most unexpected restaurant discoveries in recent memory. Executive chef Mr. Elijah Holland and chef-de-cuisine Mr. Joshua Moroney bring a wealth of ideas to C Pearl — from foraging to locavorism — many of which have yet to find a foothold in Shanghai’s dining scene at large.
[Shanghai] Phénix at The PuLi Hotel
There is something endearing about chef Michael Wilson’s unassuming yet sophisticated approach to French fine dining. Across months, then years, my visits bore witness to the burgeoning consistency and confidence, insight and intuition in Mr. Wilson’s dishes, displayed with an understated flair not often found at hotel restaurants. So his recent foray into tasting menus feels very much like a logical and natural next step.
[Shanghai] Hiya at The Shanghai EDITION
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. Yet izakayas don’t usually perch 27 floors above the ground. Nor do they sit in chic boutique hotels like The EDITION. Nor is their cooking often as inspired or as finely tuned.
[Shanghai] The Pine at Ruijin
In a way that few restaurants do, The Pine draws me in from many directions: impeccable techniques, poised eloquence, a simple, earnest desire to please, and an acute perceptiveness into the local palate, expressed with a coherence and congruity that can elude many chefs, let alone one who moved to Shanghai barely 6 months ago.
[Shanghai] Bird + Bitter
When we struggle to define exactly what kind of food a restaurant serves, words like “global” and “fusion” often get thrown about. The former would be accurate in the case of Bird; the latter would not. In fact, much of Bird’s draw is the free-spirited effortlessness that often makes up the line between the two.
[Shanghai] Oha Eatery
Oha Eatery is not the kind of place you’d stumble upon. But if you know what you are looking for, you will surely enjoy Oha’s brand of Guizhou food, made with a modern, lyrical sensibility.
Chef Wendling’s brand of generous French comfort would be welcome any time of the year, but it is particularly appreciated on cold winter nights. As the whole city shivers and shudders, the golden glow spilling from Cuivre’s wide windows beckons us inside with the promise of warmth, comfort, and generous southern French fare.