Updated: Sep 20, 2019
Located within Bund 22, a century-old structure along the Huangpu River, Napa Wine Bar & Kitchen is a charming little fine dining restaurant owned by Swiss restaurateur Philippe Huser. It arrived on Shanghai’s burgeoning restaurant scene twelve years ago as the city’s first ‘wine & dine’ concept, and has since become a favourite among oenophiles and discerning fine-dining lovers.
The Napa kitchen is helmed by Executive Chef Francisco Javier Araya, who trained at world-class restaurants El Bulli and Mugaritz. His previous experience at an omakase restaurant in Tokyo also contributes to his cooking style at Napa, which sees an interesting combination of Japanese aesthetics, modern European techniques and inspiration from his South American roots.
Our Experience at NAPA Wine Bar & Kitchen: The Wine Cellar
We were first taken below ground to Napa’s very own wine cellar, where we were welcomed with a glass of Bruno Paillard Première Cuvée champagne. ‘Cellar’ brings to mind a cosy little space with a modest store of wines, but no - this place was a massive and architecturally sophisticated underground maze of fine vintages. Random fact - the wine cellar used to be Swire’s secret underground vault for storing actual gold bars back in the early 1900’s, and so the space has long been associated with good feng shui.
Wine-paired Summer Omakase Menu by Chef Francisco Araya
After our cellar tour, we made our way to the 2nd floor restaurant. In contrast to its colonial surroundings, the restaurant interior felt very modern. We had the summer degustation menu by Chef Francisco, and I was excited about the wine-pairing selections, if the cellar tour was any indication of the dinner to come (it was). We began with the beautifully delicate amuse-bouche, which included an assortment of green peas tartelettes, creamy mushroom gougères, caramelized perilla leaf and slow-cooked foamy potato egg in its shell.
The first course was the Scallop Ceviche, featuring a large Hokkaido scallop complemented by the lively notes of cilantro, ginger and green apple. The flavours here are very fresh, and focus on key seasonal ingredients. The scallop paired well with a bright and fruity glass of 2016 Main Divide Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.
Next we had the Beetroot course, another palate-pleaser of red and yellow beetroot, herb salad and a light vanilla vinaigrette. The sweetness of the beetroot contrasted really nicely with the slightly salty and mineral 2016 Donnhoff Riesling from Germany.
The Lobster was served with honey dressing, Spanish sherry and fine slices of radish. The following course was green peas on a bed of sweet potato puree, topped with a savoury layer of lardo. The accompanying wine was amazing, a full-bodied Meursault 'Les Chevalières' 2016 from Domaine Remi Jobard in Burgundy.
The Celeriac “Pappardelle” was a colourful dish of thick celeriac ribbons with cremini mushrooms and creamy sabayon – like summer on a plate. This was paired with our first red - the light and acidic Domaine Joseph Voillot Vieilles Vignes Pommard 2013.
Next we had the Spanish Carabinero, which sat upon a layer of yuba and was lightly garnished with caramelized onion and dill sauce. The dish that followed was my favourite of the night – the 5J Iberico Pork Presa, a highly coveted oval-shaped cut situated between the top of the shoulder and beginning of the loin. The pork (with a melting texture akin to wagyu) was wrapped with slices of premium Iberico ham for an indulgent bite. The Rougie Foie Gras features the smooth and tender liver of Moulard duck, with the most incredible Iberico dashi and crunchy smoked eel.
The cheese trolley was laden with an impressive array of French cheeses, a welcome way to cut up the courses. To conclude our meal, we had Napa’s signature “Crystal Ball” 3.0 for dessert. An extravagant candied dome encases a homemade cassis sorbet, which is surrounded by vanilla custard foam and almonds. The cassis gave the dish a nice kick of freshness. Thank you to the team at Napa for making my first trip in Shanghai so memorable!
Napa Wine Bar & Kitchen Tel: (+86) 21 6318 0057 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Opening hours: Daily from 6pm-12:30am Address: 2/F South Bund, 22 Zhongshan Dong Er Road, Shanghai 200002, China Website: www.napawinebarandkitchen.com