Though its neutral hued interior, exhibition kitchen, blond wood counter, and small, perfectly-plated offerings are reminiscent of the ubiquitous Japanese omakase counter, newly opened Xuhui restaurant Pirata, as the name suggests, serves Spanish cuisine rather than sushi, though the morsels are as pretty as any nigiri you’re likely to see. The latest venture from former El Efante head chef Ling Huang, this casual tapas bar pairs a chic Eastern aesthetic with classic Mediterranean dishes in a clever combo that is fast earning acclaim from Shanghai’s gourmands.
With a moniker meaning ‘pirate’ it’s unsurprising that many of the sharable para picar are seafood-centric, with dishes like grilled jumbo shrimps with lemon-garlic oil, and fried squid with aioli and fresh basil. Meat lovers can opt for the mini gyros on pillowy pitas topped with crunchy French fries, and shareable main plates range from classic steamed clams served with crunchy bread, to the layered, saffron-scented seafood paella available every Sunday. Drinks take the best of East and West with Asahi beer and European wine, but it’s worth saving your alcohol intake for the Venetian Sgroppino, a zingy mix of champagne sweetened with house-made sorbet. Pirata is already popular so it’s best to book, or make like a Spaniard and eat late – food is served until midnight. Olé!
136 Xinle Lu / Xuhui / +86 21 5404 2327 / 6pm-1am Tue-Sun