【Shanghai】Rebirth Of a French Contemporary Cuisine Restaurant On The Bund

Author / Photo Credit:Jocelyn Chen

Philippe Huser, the owner of NAPA(left)

Francisco Javier Araya, chef of NAPA Wine Bar & Kitchen(right)

NAPA Wine Bar & Kitchen, a wine-themed restaurant, has been open for 12 years and moved from Jiangyin Road to No.22 Bund in 2013.

No. 22 Bund, formerly the underground treasury of Butterfield & Swire Co, has become the winery of NAPA. Be honestly, their wine list is thick as  as a dictionary! After this year’s renovation, the whole space of the restaurant is more spacious and more cozy.

Philippe Huser, the owner of NAPA, has extensive working experience in the catering management of luxury hotel industry. He has worked in many luxury hotels including Bangkok Peninsula Hotel and Mandarin Oriental Macau.

Philippe Huser, Owner of NAPA

At the end of 2006, Philippe wanted to open a high-end western restaurant with wine theme, and soon he opened a wine cellar restaurant at the end of 2007. NAPA moved to Bund No.22 in April 2013. Philippe said it took effort to name the restaurant at the beginning. His original intention is to offer patrons good dining experience with NAPA’s nice food, wine and cozy atmosphere.

He also mentioned that it took several months to apply for the business license and he almost gave up at that time. Through many people’s great support and efforts, it finally worked in the end. After that, NAPA moved from Jiangyin road to No. 22 Bund, which also met the expectation of frequent customers.

The South American chef cultivated by multinational cuisine

Every chef of NAPA in the past 12 years owns excellent profile. During Jiangyin road period, the first chef was Shanghai’s famous chef Stefan Stiller.

The current chef is Francisco Javier Araya. His cooking style is influenced by Spain, Japan, China and his hometown Chile. He used to work in El Bulli, Mugaritz and Boragó, the best restaurants in the world. He has been in Shanghai for four years till now.

Chef Francisco Javier Araya

After graduating from the culinary school in Chile, Francisco worked in Alma, San Diego, and then went to Mugaritz, world’s top 10 ranking restaurants in Spain for training.

In 2008, under the guidance of Ferran Adrià, he spent a year in the legendary El Bulli. The basis of Francisco’s avant-garde cuisine has been established here, and through his unremitting efforts, he has built his own unique cooking style.

After returning to Santiago, Francisco served as executive chef of Spanish Cultural Center. In 2012, he opened 81 Restaurant with his two former El Bulli colleagues in Tokyo, where they integrated Japanese seasonal ingredients into Latin American cuisine. With only eight seats, the restaurant received glowing reviews, and soon it became a popular destination in Tokyo. It received the first Michelin star in December 2013.

Gathering of food and wine

Working for a wine themed restaurant, Francisco is just like ducks to water. In Philippe’s opinion,  he believes that if the chef loves wine, he can surely design a more collaborative menu, which can add more fine dining elements into the restaurant. It also meets the customers’ preference of having dinner in a fine dining restaurant with gorgeous wine pairing.

What kind of cuisine does NAPA serve?

Francisco majored in French cuisine at culinary school, then trained in El Bulli and Mugaritz in Spain for two years. During this period, he learned cooking philosophy of masters, self-management and the ability to work with colleagues from different countries.He modifies the menu very often. His cuisine is a combination of French cuisine and his Chilean background. It is more like a French contemporary  cuisine, which is shaped by his experiences in Spain and Asia. Nowadays, more and more customers prefer beef as main course. However,  chef Francisco tended to focus more on seafood and game ingredients in his past cuisine. To adjust measures to local conditions,  Chef Francisco adopts more local ingredients. For now, NAPA offers omakase menu which is based on seasonal ingredients and it varies from day to day. The menu will be changed about 4-5 times a year according to different seasons.

NAPA’s dishes

amuse bouche

scallop ceviche cilantro | ginger

Ceviche is a common dish in the coastal areas of Latin America.  It is usually served with lime or lemon juice and seasoned with a variety of Capsicum species.  Chef Francisco hopes to add some Japanese elements so he replaced sashimi with scallops of Hokkaido.  It may not pick up the flavor as sashimi, but could unfurl the sweetness and crispy flavors altogether, and perfectly mix with spicy sauce.

beetroot herb salad | vanilla vinaigrette

Sorbet made of  beetroot and vanilla vinegar presents their acidity soothed by sweetness, it’s a very refreshing and pleasant one, also a nice choice to be as a pre-dessert.

lobster honey dressing | oloroso | radish

The most oxidized Spanish sherry vinegar is oloroso, with  dark brown color and tastes like rice wine. After mixing it with lobster and honey, it delivers a special fragrance. It’s more a Chinese – Western like integration, a taste of memory. The flavor is very balanced.

rougie foie gras iberico dashi | smoked eel

The foie gras is cooked slowly and then sautéed so it become more refreshing. The chewy smoked eel and stock soup give this dish more layers and rich umami.

green peas lardo | sweet potato

The seasonal green beans remind me of the  dining experience in Azurmendi, a three-star restaurant in northern Spain. The pork back fat locks the sweetness of  beans, with the South American style sweet potatoes, it becomes a home-style dish.

celeriac“pappardelle” cremini mushroom | sabayon

Celeriac is a common food in Chile and Argentina. Chef Francisco put slices of cremini mushroom and sabayon of sherry together, creating a South American style. It’s rich but not greasy.

5J iberico pork presa | jamón | truffle 100%

a line offine cheeses

Dessert is another bright spot here. The pastry chef Fernanda Guerrero, has worked here for a long time as well. She and chef Francisco is a perfect gourmet couple!

Chef Fernanda and Chef Francisco

“crystal ball ”3.0

cassis sorbet | vanilla custard foam | almond

It’s a combination of refreshing sorbet and vanilla custard foam, the palate and taste are full of layers. Even a guest once asked the chef to put a ring in the sugar ball for propose!

chocolate Paisley| mousse | meringue

The Michelin Guide Snub

People may agree that NAPA is a snub of Shanghai Michelin Guide, they only get the recommendation of Michelin plate for years. However the menu is very comprehensive, with excellent cooking techniques  and creativity. In NAPA, delicious cuisine is regarded as the highest principle. Francisco said his goal in NAPA is to make every guests feel satisfied and happy.

The owner, Philippe Huser, took us to the wine cellar where stores amazing amount of Super Tuscan wine, Ornellaia. There are about one thousand kinds, and in total 18000 bottles of wine here.

The service of the restaurant is great, and the food is full of Chef Francisco’s personal style, no wonder the restaurant can be so outstanding in Shanghai for many years. It is really unreasonable that Francisco can get one Michelin star in highly competitive Tokyo but none in Shanghai!

NAPA has a very spacious space after the renovation. It’s a nice choice where you can enjoy the unparalleled scenery of Huangpu River and Oriental Pearl Tower with delicious food and best selected wine paring!

NAPA Wine Bar & Kitchen

Address:2nd floor, no. 22, bund, second shandong road, Shanghai

Telephone:+86 (0)2163180057

Business hours:Monday to Sunday 18:00-00:30

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Allen Li
Allen Li
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