Sabor (Bund area, Shanghai)

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Oysters with some kind of citrus foam on dry ice

Address: 33 Sichuan Zhong Lu, near Yan’an Dong Lu (四川中路33号, 近延安东路)
Subway: Yuyuan Garden, Line 10

  • Pricing:
    • Lunch: 8, 9, or 10-courses menu at 300rmb, 400rmb and 500rmb, respectively.
    • Dinner: 9, 10, or 11-courses menu at 400rmb, 500rmb, and 600rmb,respectively.
    • Brunch: a la carte or the 8, 9, or 10-course menus at lunch prices.
    • Late dinner available at the bar with cocktail selection.

Sabor is by Madrid’s Diego Guerrero, who apparently has three Michelin stars and the dubious title of “International Olive Oil Spanish Ambassador”. Not really sure if that’s like being Miss America or more like being Miss Teen Butter Queen of the Pawnee County Fair, but regardless, we’d heard on numerous fronts that Sabor was THE new spot so we decided make a reservation for a belated anniversary dinner.

For a holiday weekend dinner, the restaurant felt rather empty with only a handful of other tables seated when we arrived, or maybe all of Shanghai was traveling that weekend. We opted for the 9 course dinner because 1) an extra 100 RMB per additional course seemed bonkers and 2) we did the 10 course dinner for Hakkasan’s two year anniversary special last year and wound up so stuffed we wanted to die (or at least I did).

Our server was a pleasant, handsome Spanish fellow (with holes in his ears that looked like he normally wears half inch plugs) who asked about any food allergies/preferences, and explained the elements in each dish as he brought it out. I said I didn’t like cilantro, and when the beef tartar came out with cilantro, he noticed before I did and sent it back to the kitchen to be remade.

Oysters topped with some kind of tangy, citrus-y foam amidst a cloud of dry ice smoke.
Beef tartar on some kind of puffed rice cracker, served with a teeny michelada
Hamachi sashimi in a warm tomato consommé with Spanish peppers
Mixed fried shrimp and calamari with aioli (just fancy mayo?), saffron, etc.
Icelandic cod with crunchy kombu strips and some kind of roe sauce
Truffle risotto with seared pigeon, served surprisingly rare
Breaking into his dessert “egg” — coconut gelatin with a mango “yolk” in a chocolate shell, served on a toasted coconut “nest”

I forgot to take photos of the house made bread (nice and savory, I particularly liked the black olive bread roll that was actually black, and the slightly reddish tomato bread roll) that came with a small stick of butter (also house made, stamped with SABOR and brought up to room temperature for easy spreading before it was brought to our table), as well as the mochi dish which came after the oysters (my first experience with savory mochi, infused with noticeably Thai flavors of coconut, lemongrass, and kaffir lime).

I was pretty pleased, overall. I don’t think the bread should have counted as one of the nine courses (c’mon guys, really?), and some elements were a bit strange (crunchy, vaguely salty dried kombu paired with a goopy, distinctly sticky roe sauce; underwhelming calamari) but the oysters and tartar + michelada were our standout favorites, and I also really liked the slightly smoky, game-y pigeon with the rich risotto, and the tomato-y hamachi “sashimi.”

I’d say it’s worth the price at least once, but unless the menu changes fairly regularly (which I’m not sure it does), I don’t know that I’d go back. Maybe to try the brunch because I’m a basic bitch who loves brunch!

Booze: ★★★½ (interesting, playful flavors and execution)
Snark: ★★★½ (still kinda pretentious tho)

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