Time Out Shanghai Food Awards 2017: The winners

Presenting the cream of the culinary crop

If there’s any word to describe Shanghai, it’s ‘cosmopolitan’, and eating in Shanghai is no different. The inaugural Time Out Shanghai Food Awards honour all this city has to offer, celebrating its contemporary food scene, the incredible people behind it and the fantastic venues they helm. You voted your favourites for the People’s Choice awards while our judges plucked out showstoppers and trailblazing newcomers in categories that celebrated the best openings of 2016, alongside the icons and legends of Shanghai. The one thing we all agreed on? You can stuff yourself silly in this city.


Freshest, classiest, most iconic: Here are the restaurants that proved the ultimate toasts of the town.

Representing everything that’s great about Shanghai dining right now


Winner

WUJIE


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So much more than a vegetarian eatery, WUJIE is ‘a restaurant that turns carnivores into veggie advocates.’ This creative and considerate concept throws everything you think you know about meat-free cuisine out the door; its innovative treatment of nature’s best making for culinary works of art whose flavours and textures surprise every time, showcasing Chinese cuisine at its finest and most imaginative. From elegant but playful dishes and gorgeous plating to the adaptation and reinvention of the menu according to season, the talented team of chefs at WUJIE dream up foods that you simply won’t find elsewhere. 



Outstanding

The Commune Social


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That ineffable X-factor, that unbottleable ‘it’ atmosphere – The Commune Social’s got it. From an always-fresh, ever-quirky global menu and coveted weekend brunches by Scott Melvin to the white-on-white ‘dessert bar’ with Kim Melvin crafting unparalleled sweets to order, the eatery never fails to remain trendy, interesting and passionate about what it serves. This Shanghai-famous spot spends year after year ceaselessly winning the hearts and minds of city’s diners, and in an ever-changing culinary landscape, that’s an accomplishment worth recognising.



People's Choice

Raw Eatery and Wood Grill


Raw


The verdict is clear: Shanghai loves Raw Eatery and Wood Grill. Though the team strips things down to basics, focusing on fresh ingredients prepared or cooked in ways that best preserve their natural flavour – charcoal grilling and straight up raw – the results are beautifully simplistic dishes that will never, ever let you down. This is honest, hearty food at its absolute best. Plus, if we had a prize for most spirited, it would surely go to the Raw team – though not shortlisted for this award, hoards of our readers showed their love by writing them in.



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Bo Shanghai

Chef Alvin Leung of three-Michelin-starred Bo Innovation in Hong Kong isn't pulling any punches with his pricey new fine-dining venture on The Bund. The Demon Chef’s ten-course tasting menu – a riff off China's eight traditional cuisines created via techniques and ingredients of international cuisines – is an all-out, no-regrets meal of some of the most interesting food in the city.


The Cannery

From the team behind perennially popular Rockbund hang out The Nest, The Cannery (literally) shines golden from dishes to decor. The restaurant delivers a laid-back elegance; its stylish interior paired with casual, filling dishes and excellent drinks. With its concise but well-executed menu, ever-changing range of freshly flown-in seafood and cocktails nothing short of outstanding, The Cannery is a fabulous addition to the Shanghai scene.


Daimon Bistro

Ever thought Cantonese food could be just a little more exciting? Enter Daimon Bistro with its chicken tom yum soup dumplings, cuttlefish with kaffir lime leaf mayo siumai, five-spice ox tongue spiked with herbs de Provence but also rippling with Sichuan flavours… and that’s just the start. It’s casual yet classy, but also wild, raucous and unchained – in atmosphere and in food. In 2016, Daimon Bistro brought to Shanghai a totally fresh perspective on what is perhaps China’s most globally recognised regional cuisine – and it’s fantastic. 


Taian Table

There won’t ever be a dish you dislike at this newly opened Michelin-starred restaurant. An experience here feels like coming home – always a relief, even if you didn’t expect it – which is exactly as Chef Stefan Stiller intends, and it makes for an inarguably unique evening of dining. A monthly-changing 14-course menu ensures intrigue and surprise with each visit, and Stiller’s food is flawless.

The most exciting special occasion eatery to open in 2016

Winner


Taian Table

A dining experience at this intimate restaurant feels like coming home – always a relief, even if you didn’t expect it – which is exactly as Chef Stefan Stiller intends, and it makes for an inarguably unique evening of dining. ‘The whole dining experience is an unobstructed culinary performance’, say our panelists, while a monthly-changing 14-course menu ensures intrigue with each visit. Plus, Stiller’s food is flawless. There won’t ever be a dish you dislike. Earning a Michelin star within the first six months of opening (and the day after having to shut down and move locations), 2016 has been a thrilling year for Taian Table, and the team is just getting started. 


Outstanding


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Alvin Leung's new venture on The Bund certainly isn't cheap, but the chef of three-Michelin-starred Bo Innovation in Hong Kong isn't pulling any punches. The tasting menus – riffs off China's eight traditional cuisines created via techniques and ingredients of international cuisines – are all-out, no-regrets meals of some of the most interesting food in the city. The Demon Chef’s sophisticated dishes build on China’s longest-standing culinary traditions and rocket them into the 21st century. Though perhaps not a ‘classic fine dining’ environment, the combination of an amazing Bund view alongside ‘the hustle and bustle of an open kitchen’ is what our panelists say make Bo Shanghai ‘an exciting place to dine in’. 


People's Choice


Taian Table 2


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Having been inducted into the American Academy of Chefs Hall of Fame and often referred to as a ‘Master of Hawaii Regional Cuisine’, Alan Wong has some serious credentials and a reputation that Shanghai diners critique with little forgiveness. And those critics have spoken – the restaurant’s tasty, interesting modern-Hawaiian cuisine delivers a fun and unique eating experience that’s well worth the high price tags.

Restaurants in Shanghai with dramatic flourishes in their dining experiences are nothing especially new, but Anthologia puts the theatrical front and centre. And the draw extends beyond novelty – its the refreshing experience, rotating menu and quality of food that keeps people coming back here; to a place where cooking is much more than the mere afterthought that often occurs with such ambitious concepts.

With Michelin-starred restaurants spanning the globe and awards including Chef of the Year and Chef of the Century under his belt, Joël Robuchon is more or less a culinary god. With this hotly anticipated first foray into Mainland China, the restaurant’s Executive Chef Francky Semblat has absolutely excelled in putting together a solid team of chefs who are deliciously carrying out the Robuchon name.

From the mind of forward-thinking Diego Guerrero of Madrid’s Michelin-starred DSTAgE, the chef’s Shanghai locale delivers a blind adventure in eating – no menu, no indication of what you might be served, only price points – that’s well worth the leap of faith. Playful and experimental in a way that’s not yet the norm in our city, Sabor is a breath of fresh air.
Celebrating mid-priced excellence

Winner


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Dreamt up by the Mr Willis group and helmed by Danish Chef Kasper Elmholdt Pederson, a meal at Pelikan tastes as though a young, emerging chef cooked it amidst great sparks of inspiration. Since its opening, the menu has ‘gradually evolved to be ingredient-inspired’ say our panelists, ‘keeping Nordic origin at its foundation, while adapting to local availability.’ Fresh, funky and Instagram-perfect, it’s a place you want to love, and you will, 'cause when the dishes hit at this contemporary Nordic concept, they hit hard.


Outstanding


The Cannery

Always the talk of the town with its brunches, special occasion menus and awesome events, The Cannery is one of 2016’s most welcome additions to Shanghai’s food and drink scene, and a place where ‘you just can’t order anything wrong.’ The latest venture from the team behind perennially popular Rockbund hang out The Nest delivers a laid-back elegance – its stylish interior paired with casual, top-notch dishes and excellent drinks. With a concise but well-executed menu and an ever-changing range of freshly flown-in seafood, this place (literally) shines golden from dishes to decor. 


People's Choice


Raw Eatery

Though the team strips things down to basics, focusing on fresh ingredients prepared or cooked in ways that best preserve their natural flavour – charcoal grilling and straight up raw – the results are beautifully simplistic dishes that will never, ever let you down. This is honest, hearty food at its absolute best. Seemingly loved by all who visit, Raw has quickly built itself up to be a must-try restaurant in the Shanghai dining scene.


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Giving Shanghai a culinary tour through reimagined, modern versions of pan-Asian street food, this eatery is a displaced hipster in Xintiandi’s crowd of commonplace dining chains, and that’s a stellar thing. With its creative takes on some of East and Southeast Asia’s most defining dishes and flavours and lust-worthy signature cocktails, Cobra Lily is a femme fatale whose grasp we can’t escape.

The wild, wacky mind of Alvin Leung is a fascinating place you could get lost in: chicken tom yum soup dumplings, cuttlefish with kaffir lime leaf mayo siumai, five-spice ox tongue spiked with herbs de Provence but also rippling with Sichuan flavours… and that’s just the start. It’s casual, but also wild, raucous and unchained – in atmosphere and in food – and the journey is fantastic.

It doesn’t get more achingly cool than Highline: clean lines and white marble table tops, a stylish crowd of the city’s tastemakers circulating in and out all night, and a high-powered team with CVs including hip nightclub Le Baron, chic French bistro Coquille, Italian trattoria Scarpetta and modern gastropub Liquid Laundry. A combination of atmosphere and menu showstoppers like Cajun-spiced fried chicken and waffles and Girl Scout cookie dessert bars put Highline on the map.
Coffee and a bite delivered with panache

Winner


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Coffee shop by day, mixology bar by night; it’s easy to get taken away by the one-of-a-kind menu that this new age café has to offer. Our panelists says that ‘coffee, just like food, needs innovation to keep it moving and become even more popular amongst the general public,’ and Ocean Grounds delivers. With internationally recognised standout items like OG New Orleans Style Iced Coffee and signature coffee cocktail Love Drunk, Ocean Grounds is a paradise for all coffee (and alcohol) enthusiasts. 


Outstanding


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Started by seasoned French-Israeli patissier Stephan Laurent, Bread etc. achieved seemingly overnight success in a city saturated with cafés. There’s not much like being greeted by the bountiful piles of freshly baked French bread and pastries as you walk through door of this modern bakery – not mention, it’s home to one of the tastiest plates of shakshuka around.


People's Choice 


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From Shanghai favourite, ever-popular Lost Heaven group, this chic but cosy French bakery and café on Julu Lu quickly won over our hearts and stomachs with its savoury, crusty loaves; sumptuous desserts and arguably the best cup of homemade hot chocolate in the city.


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From the team behind Al’s Diner, this American-style bakery serves up generous portions of everything from s'mores cupcakes, key lime pie, cinnamon sticky buns and red velvet cake, with a full range of coffee drinks and ice cream from Gracie's Ice Cream for an extra sweet kick.

Perhaps not the typical cafe style, drinks take pride of place at this cool and clean-lined spot from the team behind excellent drinking den Bar No. 3. With an adventurous menu that easily slides from lunch into dinner, paired with a totally fabulous cocktail list, Blackbird is a welcome addition to the slew of cafes that line Wulumuqi Lu.

Get lost in New York as you step into this exquisite gourmet dessert bar – with imaginative, exceptionally prepared sweets, an open-concept kitchen bar and crafted tasting menus of only desserts, this place takes its desserts seriously. Fromage blanc island cheese cake, warm chocolate tarts with pink peppercorn ice cream and red wine sauce, chocolate brownies with Maldon sea salt... does it get much better than this?
Who gives the best bang for your buck?

Winner


Little catch

‘Who doesn’t love poke?’ By now, it’s a given in Shanghai – fatty, luscious chunks of seafood on rice aren’t anything revolutionary anymore. But it was the fishmongers over at Little Catch that made this so, and our panel ‘loves the concept and the hard-working girls behind it who bring great seafood into China’. Launching hot of the success of the petite shop on Wulumuqi Zhong Lu, second addition Little Catch Poke Café offers all the signature bowls that rocketed the team to fame, plus a bulked up selection of offerings from the sea, lots of options on toast and even breakfast.


Outstanding


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This small six-seater American-style deli from Shanghai-favourite chef Austin Hu serves up some serious sandwiches. Whatever you’re chasing – be it a classic tuna melt, a hefty meatball sub, or a kimchi grilled cheese (all 55RMB) – the winning combination of house-made breads, fresh and flavoursome ingredients, and generous portions means you’re not going to go wrong here.  


People's Choice 


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Slinging and steaming crafty baos at only slightly higher rates than normal, this Hangzhou chain’s fresh, tasty and ever-rotating selection of buns make for excellent cheap bites on the fly. From black-doughed burger baos with cheesy mushroom filling, to sour lotus root and sweet apple and pork buns, BAOBAO mixes old school Chinese staple with new school flavours that make for some of the city’s most interesting baos. 

Staying open till midnight every night of the week, Midnight Burger is the answer to your late-night munchies on the cheap. The menu is short but sweet with only three burgers to choose from – a cheeseburger, a chicken burger and a sweet potato and quinoa veggie burger – all of which are under 50RMB. Plus, there aren’t many other places in the city where you can fries with legit truffle mayo (that actually tastes like truffle) for 25RMB.

Following a role in a television programme about opening a ramen shop called ‘Davi’, ‘celebrity-turned-chef’ David Ito whacked a ‘d’ on the end of the name and transformed this noodle joint into a brand that, sixteen years later, boasts six branches throughout Japan, two in Macau and, as of last year, one in Shanghai. Stardom aside, it’s a solid spot to inhale some cheap and tasty ramen – and wash it down with a frozen Kirin.
Who gets the gong for rattling the pans? 

Winner

Kasper Elmholdt Pederson

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Fresh off stint at Copenhagen’s superlative Geist, Danish Chef Kasper Elmholdt Pederson arrived in Shanghai in 2016 to lead the kitchen at hip new Nordic eatery Pelikan, tasked with making a cuisine predicated first and foremost on ‘the local’ in a locale he was only just beginning to know. Passionate, down to earth, and inspired, we’ve already seen great things from this thoughtful young chef, and expect to see a lot more ahead. And not for nothing, but as said best by our panelists,‘easy-on-the-eyes Chef Pederson’ makes Pelikan’s open kitchen way more sexy. 


Outstanding

Beth Cosgrove

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Over the last year, Chicago-born Beth Cosgrove has taken the Shanghai outpost of internationally renowned modern Hawaiian restaurant Alan Wong’s and charged ahead full throttle. When she’s not cooking up a storm over there, she’s bucking the status quo with things like raw food dinners, festival booths and more. Cosgrove has been exceptional in carrying out Wong’s concept – no easy feat, mind you – but she’s also ‘retained her own culinary voice’, grabbing all of the city’s opportunities to showcase her talents and personality and ‘tell Shanghai who she is on a plate’. 


People's Choice

Carlos Sotomayor

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There are few restaurants in town as fun as elEfante, which may be in large part to its courtyard bangers like the Dumbo Truck food festival or 12-hour Febria de Abril food and wine festival, but is also to Carlos Sotomayor. Starting his Shanghai career as a sous chef at el Willy before a stretch at Tomatito, the Peruvian chef has made elEfante his own this last year and is making his stamp on Shanghai, with frequent collaborations and off-the-chain dishes. ‘Gin and tonic’ cured salmon explosion, anyone?


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Danyi Gao
Formerly of Mr & Mrs Bund and Calypso and now head chef of 1960s-themed supper club Shake, Danyi Gao adds even more soul and spice to the nighttime lounge’s funked-up vibes via a fusion menu that pulls inspiration from her travels; most notably her riffs on Southeast Asian dishes. Aside from the stops she’s pulling over there, in her spare time Gao also runs a private dining venture called ‘Fable’ (wordplay on farm to table); where four to 16 guests get to indulge in a beautiful bespoke meal designed around seasonality and their desired price point.

Jenő Rácz
A stint in the world-renowned kitchen of Copenhagen’s Noma, a role alongside Joel Robuchon in Singapore, and now chef de cuisine at Michelin-starred Taian Table – having not yet seen his 30th birthday, Jenő Rácz’s culinary career is already hotter than hot. The young Hungarian chef only arrived in Shanghai a little over a year ago, and it seems like he’s just getting started. 

Freddy Raoult
Bringing a decade of experience in Helsinki first to The Nest and this year to The Cannery, Executive Chef Freddy Raoult’s talents make the raw and seafood-focused dining menus shine at these stylish restaurants. With flawlessly executed, polished-yet-casual dishes like a glazed, roasted tuna jaw and fish tacos to seasonal showstoppers like a duck stuffed with a pair of pigeons, porcini and foie to a whole smoked salmon done over an indoor fire pit, Raoult makes the gastrolounge concept seem both effortless and effortlessly cool. Not an easy task.
Legendary restaurant still keeping it fresh

Winner


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From the same team behind exclusive Fu 1088, Fu 1015 and Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant placeholder Fu He Hui, this charming villa remains one of our favourite spots for top-notch, refined Shanghai cuisine in casual but sophisticated settings. Like all of the Fu restaurants, Fu 1039 ‘turns out some of the most thoughtful, exquisite Chinese food in the city.’ From attention to detail to obsession with ingredients; unique plating to the choosing of ceramic ware with the care of an artist, Fu 1039 is a true showcase of the best of Shanghai cuisine – fresh but authentic year after year.


Outstanding


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Standing tall on the list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and in top ten of Asia’s 50 Best, the multi-sensory culinary concept and dining experience from chef Paul Pairet has been described as a 'postmodern work of genius' and ‘the most avant-garde restaurant experience in the world'. With seats that still book up three months in advance – even five years after the restaurant's opening at a staggering 4,000-6,000RMB per person – Ultraviolet is a place that not only foodies in Shanghai want to experience – so do ‘gourmands around the world’. It doesn’t get much more iconic than this.


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Renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Asian-inflected French cuisine in a dazzling space with spectacular views has become an absolute Bund-side staple. With its recently remodelled dining room and Executive Chef Paul Eschbach behind the scenes making magic with his stellar team, Jean-Georges represents everything great about fine dining in Shanghai.


People's Choice


MMB FOOD-Sea Bass Vierge

With many years of residence on both The World’s 50 Best and Asia’s 50 Best restaurants, when this city’s diners hear French fare, they think of Shanghai’s favourite couple – Mr & Mrs Bund. Since Paul Pairet opened this modern French eatery nearly a decade ago, the team has kept things fresh, fun and full of surprises, from legendary bingo nights to Alpine pop-ups.


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For years now, Lost Heaven has been setting the standard for Shanghai-based Yunnanese restaurants, and with the recent addition of Lost Heaven Silk Road, its now three branches never fail to deliver classy dining experiences. The ambience, the magnificent minority decor and the always delicious offerings continue to place it as a go-to place for fabulous Chinese fare.

Year after year, Michelle Garnaut's legendary Bund institution serves up its modern European and Middle Eastern fare in a glamorous, buzzy setting that never fails to impress its guests. For upscale, spectacular eats with a view, M on the Bund has always been – and we predict always will be – one of the Bund’s culinary greats.

Paying tribute to an inspirational figure on Shanghai’s food landscape


Winners

Kelley Lee

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With over a decade in the China scene and huge collection of all-star eateries, breweries and cafes to her name – Boxing CatLiquid LaundryCobra LilySproutworks and Tepito, to name a few – Kelley Lee has an F&B empire. As one of Shanghai’s most dominating, trendsetting forces in food, she's an absolute powerhouse of a role model for all women (all people, at that) who are aspiring to succeed in the industry. ‘Lee never stops progressing,’ say our panelists. ‘This is exactly what Shanghai represents: finding opportunities and grabbing them.’ 

Tony Lu

Tony Lu_YYT Chef Consultant

There are only two places in China on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, and being the land of ‘we’ll eat anything with four legs except a table’, the fact that one of those restaurants – Lu’s Fu He Hui – is vegetarian… well, it’s a true triumph. With his haute vegetarian Shanghainese, tasting-only menu, Lu is a trailblazer in modern Chinese cooking; constantly setting high standards for the cuisine’s future. ‘We need more of him, and we need to hold him up for all to see and be inspired by’, our panelists say. ‘The brilliant, shy chef Lu deserves many accolades as one of the most talented and innovative Chinese chefs of his generation.’ 


People's Choice

Willy Trullas Moreno

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Since his arrival in Shanghai ten years ago, Chef Willy Trullas Moreno has been spreading great food and good cheer with his El Willy ‘Fun F&B Group’, a brand that includes elEfanteEl OchoTomatito and naturally, El Willy. The exuberant chef and his ‘sexy’ Spanish eats, pop-up food trucks and lively events continue to stir things up in the Shanghai scene, with new concepts and ideas rolling out on the regular.


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Michelle Garnaut
There's no one quite like Michelle Garnaut. While she may not be in the heat of the kitchen on the day to day, the restauranteur and cook has inarguably shaped the city's food scene over the last decade and a half. From opening the first independent restaurant on The Bund (before it was cool) in 1999 – the modern-day landmark M on the Bund – to the more-recent gastrolounge and cultural salon Glam next door, it's always been more than just about the food to Garnaut. 

Paul Pairet
In a competitive, ever-evolving food scene like Shanghai's, a meal’s success relies on details beyond just good food. Diners want innovation, virtuosity, risk and this city’s well-loved culinary star Paul Pairet never fails to deliver – his hold over Shanghai is immeasurable.

Stefan Stiller
Though a personality in Shanghai’s food scene for over ten years now, 2016 was a year of great feats for inventive, inspired Austrian chef Stefan Stiller. With his stunning, meticulously designed and executed menus at Taian Table and the restaurant’s newly earned Michelin star under his belt, Chef Stiller is providing Shanghai with unique spaces and experiences that diners are lucky to have. 

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