The best kind of restaurant openings are the ones that do so quietly (Together who? Together what?), but then you go and get your socks knocked off. That's what Together
on chilled-out, leafy Yuyuan Lu in Jingan seems to have done this past week.
It's the newest concept from the same people behind The Commune Social
, Shanghai-based architecture and design firm Neri&Hu and Singaporean boutique hotel and restaurant brand Unlisted Collection. Neri&Hu's involvement means that the intimate space, tucked just back from the street, is gorgeous – minimalist but with warm and stylish touches like elegant brass lights hanging from the ceiling and red brick walls and flooring.
Crab dashi jelly with sea urchin, pearl onion, seaweed (128RMB)
The kitchen and menu concept is led by Bina Yu, who most recently steered the ship at (now-shuttered) modern Korean spot Chi-Q in Three on the Bund. The party line is that it's French-Asian cuisine at Together, but in practice, it's more interesting than that might sound and from a recent visit, Yu seems solidly in her element, killing it with some inventive, utterly delicious dishes.
Crispy prawn, ginger, soy, smoked paprika oil, coriander (78RMB)
So, what about the food? Don't expect fine dining courses; Together is laidback and all about sharing. Portions are generous, with hot and cold starters ranging from 48RMB (a wakame seaweed salad) to 108RMB (truffle foie gras with barbecue eel in a bun). Mains are served with a choice of one or two portions plus a side per portion, with the single portion sizes from 128RMB (tournedos pork) to 248RMB (M9 sirloin steak).
Octopus, gochujang, crunchy crumb, aioli (118RMB)
Yu doesn't hold back on the flavours, throwing a lot of one-two-three combinations of sweet, salty, sour and then a hit of umami. Firm but tender octopus tentacles come coated in gochujang – sweet, spicy and tasting a bit like spicy rice cracker snacks from 7-11, in a very good way. The dreamy ume-miso glazed salmon melts in your mouth but not without leaving a bit of tang from salted plum. Black garlic and toasted almonds in a side of endives and radicchio balance out the vegetables' bitter edge.
Tournedos pork with pepperoncini sauce (128RMB)
Grilled, bone-in salmon steak with ume miso glaze (158RMB)
Cauliflower side (48RMB)
Raspberry and yogurt ice cream (left), salted caramel ice cream (right)
Kim Melvin, who you might know as the architect behind The Commune Social's killer dessert line-up, has created a rotating roster of ice cream (38RMB a scoop in a cone or a cup, plus 10RMB for chantilly cream or salted caramel) and rustic, home-style cakes (35RMB a slice). Simple, but delicious. On our visit, a salted caramel ice cream arrived with a torched, caramelised banana (basically, Banoffee pie in a cup or a cone) and for cakes, think combinations like polenta and orange or more off-the-wall choices like black sesame cake with matcha cream frosting. Cakes are laid out on a small circular table in the middle of the dining room, making for an altogether homey vibe.
Together is currently open only for dinner on Tuesdays through Saturdays, but hours are likely to change over the next few weeks. Call ahead for reservations. Details and number below.