2017 is quickly coming to a close, and we're reflecting on the restaurants in Shanghai that have fallen by this wayside this year. We've seen a lot of closures, but here are a few that cut deep.
Our first casualty of note this year took place as early as January with Baoism, a Chinese street food concept started by foodie-entrepreneurs Alex Xu and Jenny Gao. Their baos and noodles were tasty, but there simply wasn't enough traffic in the basement of Hubindao mall to sustain them. Alex Xu is working on some personal projects, which we’re hoping to see open for the public soon. Jenny Gao, on the other hand, is crushing with pop-ups under her "Sichuan Soul Food" brand FlyByJing.
In the same month was Ruijin Cajun, purveyors of cajun and creole comfort food. Moving into 800Show from their former home in Kangaroo bar was a feat, and they said goodbye after a few short months. Sure, you couldn't eat their artery-choking menu every day, but damn was it good. A moment of silence for the the only restaurant in Shanghai that served crawfish étouffée-topped hotdogs, please.
The loss of Farine probably evokes as much sadness in Shanghai as it does schadenfreude. Proprietor Franck Pecol was already a polarizing figure in this scene, and then he became the center of a highly-publicized food safety scandal. His empire rapidly crumbled after a former employee blew the whistle on his use of expired flour. What's perhaps even sadder though is that someone else is paying for Pecol's sins. The restaurateur managed to skip town just before the shit hit the fan. He left an employee holding the bag. Eight months on and the poor guy is still in jail. In spite of all this, Farine was great. The line regularly snaking out the door and onto Wukang Lu will attest to this. It will be sorely missed, but the loss of Franck Bistrot stings even more. Say what you will about the scandal—Franck Bistrot always turned out an excellent cote de beouf. The popular French bistro has since reopened under new management. And your guess is as good as ours if the restaurant is still worth its salt. Either way, it seems like fans of the original pre-Franckgate restaurant have been reluctant to return.
There are few small and unique finds in this city, and with the departure of Singaporean/Hubei Hello Miss Dong, that circle is now smaller. A tiny shop on the quieter end of Yongkang Lu, HMD was a gem, serving Singaporean specialties seldom found in Shanghai like Bak Chor Mee, a bowl of wavy noodles with minced meat, meatballs, and a sauce of pork lard, chili, and beef juice. Food Fusion is but a shadow of this sorely missed eatery.
It wasn't quite a restaurant, but Dogtown deserves acknowledgement. Street-side party spot Dogtown bit the dust after years of back and forth arguments with tricky neighbors. How is a party on the street offensive? It’s a free kegger! Boom Boom Bagels is bigger, but the Shaanxi Lu vibes were better.
East Eatery gave us a reason to venture back into Tianzifang again. The contemporary Asian restaurant operated by Yoshi Stiller was one of our favorite new openings of the year, and a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Alas, Tianzifang isn’t the kindest place for a restaurant of this caliber. We’re waiting for news on a reopening. We can only hope for their swift return, just so we can indulge in a bowl of their kimchi noodles, among others.
Long-serving Taiwanese restaurant Charmant closed this summer. The unpretentious eatery was one of few places open late, too. And let's face it, the peanut smoothies at Bellagio just aren’t the same. It’s neighbor, Austin Hu’s sandwich shop and deli Madison Kitchen also closed, both falling prey to another round of municipal government reclamation efforts. Still no word on a return of Charmant, but Madison Kitchen is back at Bonobo!
Holy Cow closed its original location on Xiaomuqiao Lu earlier this month, leaving a hotpot-sized hole in our hearts. Thankfully, they have two thriving locations, albeit a little further west than we’d like to venture. Fans of Chaozhou hotpot can still get their fix by heading to their Bingo Mall and Star Plaza locations.
It’s a tough business, and we wish everyone good luck for the year ahead. And to all eaters, if you don't want to see your favorite restaurant close, there one thing you can do: Eat there!
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