CHOICE CUTS

An en­ter­pris­ing butcher turns his Euro­pean ‘meat va­ca­tion’ into an ap­peal­ing new shop in Shang­hai.

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE DINING - Con­tact the writer at xu­jun­qian@chi­nadaily.com.cn Xu Jun­qian

Liang Ji­a­hao is still car­ry­ing what he la­bels “new store open­ing weight”— 10 ki­los, two months after My Butch­ery was opened. It may not be a bad thing, the 25-year-old Shang­hai na­tive jokes: his weight may make his first en­tre­pre­neur­ial ven­ture more “le­git­i­mate and con­vinc­ing”. It’s solid ev­i­dence of the good­ness of the qual­ity beef he has been try­ing to show­case for Shang­hai over the past year.

“I am a meat-lover by every def­i­ni­tion,” says Liang, who pre­vi­ously worked at a wine im­port com­pany in Shang­hai. “More than that, I take great in­ter­est in see­ing and find­ing out how meat is pre­pared be­fore it ar­rives. But in Shang­hai, the lat­ter part of my hobby barely gets re­al­ized.”

He has trav­eled all over Europe and paid as much at­ten­tion — and trib­ute — as pos­si­ble to lo­cal fam­ily-vibed butcheries, “like many tourists visit mu­se­ums”.

“If I learned one les­son, it’s that butcheries don’t have to be all dirty, bloody and smelly. And I want that in Shang­hai as well,” says Liang, com­par­ing the no­to­ri­ously greasy butcheries tucked in the cor­ner of wet mar­kets in the city, and else­where in China, with what he saw in other coun­tries.

De­spite the small space, Liang got Max Trul­las Moreno, the de­signer be­hind names like Span­ish restau­rant El Willy and Nike, to recre­ate a bright and sleek shop with white tiles and black­board walls.

Be­yond the wide va­ri­ety of cuts, rang­ing from rib-eyes and ground beef to pork chops, the shop also of­fers home­made pick­les, cheese, sausages and— un­sur­pris­ingly, given Liang’s back­round, wine that is more than rea­son­ably priced.

There is also a spe­cial smell fill­ing the air of the shop: from the ro­tis­serie chicken in the oven, sparkling with a golden shine re­flected in the pota­toes be­low. It’s be­come an un­ex­pected hit that has lured in many passers-by.

There is no lack of trendy butcheries in Shang­hai. Yasmine’s Butch­ery, which has been on the Shang­hai’s car­ni­vore map for years, has re­cently ren­o­vated its space and ex­panded it into a butch­ery and steak­house. Ni­col­son’s Butcher & Seafood, just a few steps from My Butch­ery, of­fers not only what its name sug­gests but also home­made sausages and ba­cons. The Swiss Butch­ery prom­ises “a world-class meat ex­pe­ri­ence” with the rep­u­ta­tion of its owner, Swiss mas­ter butcher Markus Werme linger, and ar­guably Shang­hai’s most ex­ten­sive menu of meat.

Liang is find­ing his place in be­tween, and he’s hav­ing an im­pact much larger than his less-than-30square-me­ters shop. His tar­get mar­ket is very di­rect: young Chi­nese, or peo­ple like him.

“We grew up eat­ing red-braised pork, fried pork chops, pork ribs in soup, till one day when we stepped out and found there is a whole other world of meat: steak,” says Liang.

With the grow­ing num­ber of steak­houses in Shang­hai, Liang de­tected a ris­ing in­ter­est among his friends and peers to pan-fry a steak at home, and his shop fills the gap be­tween over­priced of­fer­ings from im­port su­per­mar­kets, which have “as a cold ser­vice as its freezer”, and the greasy mar­ket coun­ters.

“Es­sen­tially, I hope My Butch­ery could be­come a chain,” he says, “which could de­fine the word and im­age of butch­ery for our younger lo­cal gen­er­a­tion.”

If I learned one les­son, it’s that butcheries don’t have to be all dirty, bloody and smelly.” Liang Ji­a­hao, founder of My Butch­ery

PHO­TOS BY LU MINMIN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Shang­hai na­tive Liang Ji­a­hao’s My Butch­ery of­fers a wide va­ri­ety of cuts, rang­ing from rib-eyes and ground beef to pork chops, and home­made pick­les, cheese and sausages.

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