The Fellas

7 Yanan Dong Lu

Update: As of July 2016, Shen has been renamed The Fellas and has undergone a menu and decor revamp with involvement from the people behind Italian eatery Goodfellas. Some of the details in the below review - written soon after Shen's opening - may therefore now be inaccurate.

You might have heard that Shen, located on the seventh floor of a newly renovated development where Yanan Lu hits The Bund, is a new bar from the people behind DADA. But while the Michael Ohlsson and Wang Ju, the owners of the popular Xingfu Lu dive bar, are indeed behind this new project, DADA II it is not. A sweeping L-shaped terrace affords views over Lujiazui and The Bund while the menu features creative cocktails and bar snacks – it’s a considerable move upmarket.

Leather and wood chairs dotted with eye-catching, brightly coloured cushions fill the outdoor area and fresh mint grows abundantly in window boxes that run the length of the glass-walled terrace. There are seating options indoors too, but at this time of year it’s naturally the terrace that is the real draw.

The views are backed up by equally impressive drinks. Overseen by Jerry Chen, formerly of Starling and Choir, the drinks menu is short but sharp. A page of wine options is joined by three house specialty cocktails and over a dozen classic cocktails, including thoroughly drinkable Moscow Mules and Mojitos (both 68RMB).

From the Shen creations, the Chinglish (88RMB) is a light and citrusy number managing to make that mixes rum, lemon and lychee and melon liqueurs with a baijiu base. Shaken with egg whites, the drink is topped off with osmanthus flowers for a sweet and fruity aroma and the other ingredients manage the almost impossible feat of relegating the Chinese spirit to a background flavour rather than a dominating one. It’s something that a lot of cocktails have tried to do in recent years, but few have achieved with such aplomb.

The drinks can be paired with a range of light pre-dinner nibbles such as six bite-sized shrimp avocado crisp rolls (48RMB). The smoked fish in cotton candy puffs (48RMB) is another unique and tasty snack option if you’re still feeling peckish. Six Shanghainese-style smoked fish pieces are skewered and then encased in candy floss, standing erect on skewers protruding from a block of wood like white fluffy clouds.

Another good food option, the hot and spicy Sichuan chicken (48RMB), arrives with varying sizes of juicy, fatty chicken piled high with bright red dried chilies and Sichuan peppercorns for a hearty kick. The dish kills the flavours in some of the lighter cocktails, but pairs surprisingly well with the Ancient Smoky Secret (88RMB). This whisky-based drink comes to the table under a bell jar filled with smoke. When the waitress lifts the lid, the smoke billows out quickly, leaving you with a generous serving of whisky that’s been infused with cordyceps (a type of fungus used in traditional Chinese medicine), vermouth blanc, Campari and Chinese bitters. Give this drink a few minutes in the glass to get the full flavour from the star anise that’s been beautifully embedded in the large round ice cube.

Despite the interesting array of ingredients present in the drinks, they’re not listed on the menus and staff can appear a little flummoxed when pushed on what the concoctions contain, but to be fair, we visited during Shen’s opening few weeks and service is rarely spot on so early on. The staff were all friendly, however, reflecting the laidback vibe that Shen exudes.

With impressive and relatively well-priced cocktails, plus a wonderful view to boot, Shen takes the best bits of Bund-side drinking and snacking without the hefty price tags or pretentious air that can sometimes corrupt venues beside the Huangpu. Definitely one to check out, once, again, and again.

Venue name: The Fellas
Opening hours: 5pm-2am daily
Metro: Yu Garden
English address: Seventh Floor, 7 Yanan Dong Lu, near Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, Huangpu district
Chinese address: 黄浦区延安东路7号7楼, 近中山东一路