DJ and Producer Yu Su Brings a Food Pop-up to Shanghai

The Canada-based dumpling aficionado is collaborating with Shanghai restaurant Bastard for a special dinner pairing food and music

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Simon Frank
2:46 PM HKT, Thu December 7, 2023 1 mins read

If you follow any touring musicians on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed that one of their favorite things — besides playing music — is eating and drinking in a new town. Kaifeng-born, Vancouver-based DJ and producer Yu Su takes this gastronomic obsession further than most, having cooked pop-up dinners in London, Vancouver, Tokyo — and now Shanghai.

Yu Su has been touring almost non-stop since releasing her debut album Yellow River Blue in 2021. Like her DJ sets, it’s full of buoyant dance music that can rapidly shift into more ambient and psychedelic forms. But she has also run a food Instagram, yusucooks, since 2019. That was around the time she joked online that she was quitting music to open a restaurant in Paris — and the fact that people actually fell for the prank got her thinking about sharing her cooking more widely.

“It’s so similar to DJing a party, but different. It’s almost like I like it better,” she laughs. “It’s so personal, so direct. It feels more humble… In the whole DJ industry, you’re really mentally removed from the environment and actual people,” she explains, noting that working with chefs can provide a chance to collaborate and learn.

RADII caught up with Yu Su as she tested recipes for a dinner happening on December 7 at Bastard, a Shanghai restaurant from chef Michael Janczewski and Jiro H that has garnered acclaim for its inventive, ‘bastardized,’ re-interpretations of Chinese cuisine as well as its hip, casual atmosphere and the special care that goes into its playlists — not always a given at restaurants in China. Considering that Yu Su first connected with Bastard’s Dongwei Su at her shows during previous tours to China, it’s clear that the restaurant’s team shares her passion for music.

Yu Su Bastard Recipe Testing

Bastard’s Jiro and Michael taste-testing with Yu Su (left to right).

Discussing how chefs in cities like Tokyo are often “obsessed with music,” Yu Su comments that in Shanghai, you can have a “good restaurant, good wine bar, but immediately, it feels like there’s not much thought put into the music.”

Guests at her events can therefore expect a more considered approach, pairing dishes with music and her own field recordings reflecting the regions that inspired them. Music from the Middle East and South Asia might accompany a Silk Road-inflected lamb dumpling, while another dumpling filled with pumpkin and salted egg yolk will go with sounds from Southern China.

Scroll down for a look at Yu Su and Bastard’s team fine-tuning the aforementioned pumpkin dumpling and a dessert featuring poached pear, goji berries, and sake ice cream.

Photos by Wu Zhiyao. Follow Yu Su and Bastard on Instagram for more info.

Pumpkin dumpling

A mixture of pumpkin and polenta forms the base for the dumplings’ filling.

Salted egg yolk wok

Pumpkin dumplings

The chefs experimented with two approaches for the pumpkin dumplings: a quick stir-fry in salted egg yolk, and a more ravioli-esque finish of sage and brown butter.

Plating dessert

Yu Su plates up dessert.

Dongwei Su behind the bar

Dongwei prepares one of the event’s drinks, a gin and pear-based cocktail.

Gin pear cocktail

Yu Su and Michael discuss ingredient orders.

Yu Su eating dessert

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