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March 21, 2021

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Mixologists shake it up at Atelier Izakaya

THE newly opened Atelier Izakaya’s modern stylings add a breath of fresh air to the northern section of Shaanxi Road in Jing’an District.

The venue used to house a sophisticated cocktail bar but after the tough period affected by the coronavirus, veteran mixologist Daniel An decided to give the space a new direction and turned it into a modern izakaya — but maintained the late bar section for after-dinner drinks.

It’s hard to resist a changing-of-the-guard story. And while it’s true the focus of a crafted cocktail is not as strong as it once was, the story here is not about loss, but gain.

The dimly lit dining room, sleek-looking open kitchen is intimate and suave, while the well-prepared izakaya bites add something fresh and relevant to diners, bringing texture and depth to the neighborhood’s food and beverage scene.

The seating areas comprise a bar counter, surrounding the open kitchen, a long table for communal dining and tables for two to four diners.

The menu is inspired by a Japanese izakaya but the team doesn’t want to restrict themselves. Southeast Asian fragrant herbs, Chinese liquor, cheese and truffle are used in several dishes.

The team is creative with its small appetizers to its grilled items without boundaries. I love their appetizer selection, which is stylishly presented.

The liquor soaked prawn (48 yuan) is an appetizer bursting with an enormous amount of satisfying flavors, combining Chinese yellow wine, Chinese baijiu and sake with preserved plum to give it a sweeter taste.

The black truffle goose liver chawanmushi (Japanese steamed egg custard) is another favorite.

The version served here is on the luxurious side with black truffle and foie gras placed on top of a plain egg custard. There is a balance of sweetness, saltiness, fattiness and smoothness from the different components, and each bite was utterly satisfying.

The yakitori (Japanese grilled chicken skewers) is an essential part of the food experience here. It is a celebration of food kissed by smoke and flames. But it is recommended to come early for the limited yakitori because it sells out very quickly every night.

While you can gorge yourself silly on snack plates and grilled skewers alone, the mains deserve some attention.

Prices are reasonable in the seafood section and the generous portions are designed to share.

The most expensive dish was the lemongrass turbot priced at 128 yuan, but it comes with a generous piece of turbot that is beautifully covered with an assortment of fresh herbs of mint, citronella, lemongrass and orange peel. The fish meat was tender and fragrant, which will satisfy most diners. Diners won’t be disappointed, so book a table soon.


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