Shanghai is one of our favourite Asian cities for French cuisine.It is, after all, home to Ultraviolet (No. 3 on Asia’s 50 Best 2015), arguably Asia’s finest French restaurant, and Mr & Mrs Bund (No. 21 on Asia’s 50 Best 2015).Strangely enough, however, Shanghai has never really appeared on the international radar for top-notch Chinese fare. Not until recently.Over the past years, a clutch of credible and decidedly upscale Chinese dining options, mostly proffering Shanghainese cuisine, has started to dot Shanghai’s vibrant dining landscape.
Most prominent amongst them are restaurants by the Fu group helmed by executive chef Tony Lu, whose name is now a byword for fine Shanghainese fare and most recently, haute vegetarian cuisine.But the Fu group is not alone. Last year, Hakkasan, a Michelin-starred modern Cantonese contender from London, joined the bandwagon to jostle for a share of the dining pie, as did Pin Yue, a locavore restaurant in Hyatt Regency located an hour’s drive from Shanghai city
Here’s what to expect at Shanghai’s best new Chinese eateries to open in the last 2 years:
Fu He Hui
After conquering the world of fine Shanghai cuisine with not one but three restaurants in the Changning district, Fang Yuan, owner of he Fu group of restaurants, decided to go vegetarian with his fourth. Fu He Hui, a zen temple of haute vegetarian cuisine, debuted last March in the same Changning District sandwiched between Fu 1015 and Fu1039. Decked in stone, wood and fabrics in neutral tones, the 90-seat restaurant offers 11 private rooms, 2 enormous VIP rooms and a main dining hall spread over 3 levels.A meal at this tasting menu-only restaurant by executive chef, Tony Lu, is a lesson in China’s rich and diverse supply of fungi, some extremely exotic. Pick from one of four set menus; the priciest of which weighs in at RMB 880 for 8 courses and included highlights like the intensely savoury Yunnan porcini smoked in a jar with a wand of grape vine and served with a dip of mushroom gel strewed with sea salt and petals of shallot. Our dinner also featured an outstanding dish of deep-fried russula stacked atop a bowl of “chawan mushi” with chanterelle and towel grourd. If you have any pre-conceived notion of vegetarian cuisine, a trip to Fu He Hui will not only change that, it will also open up your eyes to the wondrous culinary world of fine vegetarian cuisine. Just so that you know, this vegetarian restaurant landed the No. 19thspot on Asia’s 50 Best list 2015 merely a year after opening.
Fu He Hui | 1037 Yuyuan Lu, near Jiangsu Lu Changning district
An hour by car from Shanghai city, Pin Yue at 18 month-old Hyatt Regency Chongming sets itself apart from the crowd of Chinese restaurants with a locavore menu that draws on the terroir of its farmland surrounds. The birdcage themed restaurant – which accommodates 60 in the main dining room and another 44in 6 sumptuous black-bathed private rooms named after birds – reflects the idyllic nature of the resort island that is resplendent with nature and verdant farms. The menu, in particular, seeks to integrate the best of locally sourced meat produce – like black pig and freerange chicken that roams in orange fields – with seafood from the nearby Yangtze River andorganic vegetables farmed in Chongming. The cooking is Shanghainese inflected but unusually light, refreshing and hearty, with a quiet refinement that one will be hard pressed to find in city restaurants.A perfect embodiment of the restaurant’s philosophy is the humble signature dish of tomato broth, which features organic local tomatoes brewed until sweet and velvety, served with a drop of organic local egg and cubed Chongming bamboo shoots.Other highlights include the chilled orgnic chicken with a side soya dip, sautéed wood ear green vegetables (not to be confused with wood fungus) in supreme stock and the glutinous rice pancake flecked with Chongming wild vegetables.
Pin Yue | Hyatt Regency Chongming, Lane 799, Lan Hai Road, Chenjia Town, Chongming County
13 years after blazing a trail in London with its modern Cantonese fare, Hakkasan opened its 11th restaurant on the 5th floor of an art deco building by the Bund in Shanghai last March and catapulted to the 46thposition on the Asia’s 50 Best list this year. In an airy space with soaring ceiling and windows framing postcard perfect views of the Bund, this visually stunning digs proffers four distinct spaces for an appreciation of its inspired Chinese cuisine – a bar, an original Hakkasan signature dark, blue and lattice wood dining room, a more trendy dining salon with a colourful palette of olive green seats, bright orange cushion and crimson red table lamps, and a line-up of elegantly decorated private rooms. For the perfect meal, order the crispy duck with caviar, Hakkasan’s riff on Beijing duck served with a bready pancake topped with caviar, and crispy duck salad w pomelo, grapefruit, pinenuts and shallots. The dessert of sugar caramelised banana, salted caramel and peanut butter, available exclusively to this outlet, is also standout.
Hakkasan |Bund 18, 5/F, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu
Yong Yi Ting
Residing 21 feet underground in Mandarin Oriental Pudong, this subterranean restaurant with soaring ceiling of palatial proportion offers all the ostentatious trappings of a fine dining restaurant including a mish mash of designer lamps – inverted wine glass-like ceramic lanterns and crystal chandeliers – matched by an impressive array of wine labels displayed in swish, see-through wine cellars. The cuisine by consulting chef, Tony Lu of the Fu group, is Jiangnan, which eschews Shanghai’s oily, sweet and heady flavours in favour of the more delicate fare from the south of the Yangtze River covering Shanghai, Zhejiang and Jiangsu. Expect light and flavoursome dishes like deep-fried scallop on a bed of sweet peas and a Chinese ham-crowned simmered King prawn resting in a pond of sea urchin sauce. The restaurant’s signature of braised beef rib in soya sauce with hickory is also an all-time favourite.
Yong Yi Ting | Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 111 Pudong Nan Lu, near Yincheng Lu, Pudong; 86-21-2082-9978