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Apr 3, 2008 11:28 AM

Shanghai - top restaurant feedback needed

I'm going to Shanghai in June and am researching options for a nice dinner - I've narrowed down to the list below but need some help with the final decision. Food needs to be great, but I'm also taking into consideration atmosphere and views:

3 on the Bund restaurants:
- Laris
- Jean Georges
- Whampoa Club
- New Heights

M on the Bund

Any feedback or additional suggestions would be much appreciated.
Thanks in advance!

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  1. I've only been to Whampoa Club. I was not bowled over by the food, or the service, but the view of the river and Pudong is certainly lovely if you are seated next to the window. There are only a few tables along the window, so make sure to ask for one in advance. I wrote a report about my meal there which you can find, I hope, with a search.

    1. I haven't been to Shanghai for over a year (and in fast-moving Shanghai, things could've changed beyond recognition), so my comments, based on my experiences there last year in January & March should be taken with a time caveat. Actually, my personal choice if it's only going to be only one dinner would be M on the Bund!

      Here are my takes on the restaurants you mentioned:

      1. M on the Bund is my all-time favorite restaurant in Shanghai - why, because I've been an ardent fan of Michelle Garnaud, that feisty Aussie restaurateur who defied critics & naysayers to open the first independent French restaurant in Hong Kong, M on the Fringe, back in the 1990s. M on the Fringe was a legend in its own right, but when Michelle took her sense of adventurism & devil-may-care attitude to Shanghai and opened M on the Bund at a time when NO foreign restaurateur had attempted such feat, it became a veritable temple of gastronomy for me when I visited Shanghai. Its location (No. 5 on the Bund) was also fabulous, and afforded a beautiful, panoramic view of the Huangpu River, dividing the classical facades of old Puxi from the Flash Gordonesque towers of Pudong. My favorite time to eat at M on the Bund is during weekend brunch. Their Eggs Benedict was supreme, and their divine, light, fruit-laden Pavlova transforms you back to Sydney with every bite. Feedback from other Chowhounds on M on the Bund had been mixed - some good, some bad (more leaning towards the latter in recent years). Bur for me, it'll always be my first & last stop on any trip to Shanghai.

      2. T8 is probably the most under-rated restaurant at Xintiandi, where people go to Din Tai Fung for the "best xiao long bao in the world" (as per last Nov's International Herald Tribune), Ye Shanghai (refined Shanghainese, by way of Hong Kong), Crystal Jade Restaurant (HK-Cantonese food, by way of Singapore), Luna (Italiano, by way of Malaysia) or Simply Thai (I preferred their branch in the French Concession, where visiting Thai royalty dine at). Recently, Singapore's Justin Quek (a minor celebrity-chef in his home country) also opened Le Platane French restaurant, to add to the mind-boggling food choices there. But T8 is my personal favorite in Xintiandi - the last time I dined there, I had perfectly poached eggs on sauteed mushrooms for starters. A simple dish, but when executed with aplomb at T8's open kitchen, was truly orgasmic in the pleasures it imparted on my palate. T8's star entree then was the Sichuanese high-pie, a kind of Chinese Melton Mowbray pie which, when you cut through the rich, buttery crust, yielded an aromatic filling of delicately-spiced shredded lamb. It's the kind of dish which haunts you after your first taste, and which gently but forcefully make you want to go back the very next day for a second helping. And then the next day, and the next...

      3. Sens & Bund - extremely disappointing and shockingly inept when I dined there last year (dry overcooked food, tasting like Chinese stir-fries than French fine-dining). Also, shockingly high prices - US$300 for two, plus wine. I had high regard for Jacques & Laurent Pourcel, but their Shanghainese venture (with inadequately-trained Chinese chefs) was sooooo bad, it took a trip to their excellent sister-restaurant, D'Sens in Bangkok's Dusit Thani Hotel last Christmas, to restore a bit of my faith in their reputation.

      4. Laris was THE place to see & be seen last year. Excellent service and nice choice of entrees. I was dining with a fussy Japanese foodie-friend (he prefers to be called a food connoisseur, I call him a glutton) and the marvellous menu degustation provided a beautiful & substantial repast, filled with a variety of interesting tastes & textures. Me, I only remembered my dessert platter which was square and displayed a collection of cakes, ices & mousse.

      5. Jean Georges - another classic example of a good brand name gone bad in Shanghai. Inexplicably, they served EVERY dish using gigantic, cavernous bowls. Very uncomfortable when you use knife & fork over a washbasin-like vessel, trying to get to your miniscule steak lying at its base. My only memory of Jean Georges Shanghai (besides the beautiful view) was the extra-hard bread roll! But my cousin in New York tells me it's the same in its Manhattan counterpart (?!).

      6. Whampoa Club - again, another restaurant that has been getting more than its fair share of brickbats. But (no jeers, please), it's my personal favorite Chinese restaurant in Shanghai. I liked Jereme Leung's cooking since he was executive chef at Four Seasons Hotel Singapore's Jiang Nan-Chun. His inventive, modern-interpretation of Shanghainese cuisine was fun - e.g. take the boring but traditional drunken chicken - Jereme turns the Shaoxing wine into a sorbet and use this as topping for the chicken slices. For me, Whampoa Club is another must-try at the Bund.

      Haven't tried New Heights but, if your list of restaurants above is any indication of your dining preferences, you should also try Jade on 36 at the Pudong Shangri-La Hotel for its molecular cuisine; Shintori Null for its industrial-chic Blade Runner-type decor & cutting-edge Japanese cuisine; the beautiful La Villa Rouge (French-Japanese fusion in a building which used to house the Pathe recording company, and where the Chinese national anthem was composed); Sasha's (Viet-Mediterranean at a house which used to belong to one of the Soong Sisters); and Yongfoo Elite, a luxurious turn-of-the-century manor which transforms you to Shanghai of the Roaring 20s when you step over the threshold.

      5 Replies
      1. re: klyeoh

        -- that lamb pie dish at T8 sounds great...i shall try it

        -- i've only been to the bar at new Heights...nice view, can't comment on the food...

        -- i'd also recommend adding Lost Heaven to the list...heavily atmospheric Yunnan/Burmese/tribal dishes...i did a mini-review of it on another thread...

        -- and i've visited Yongfoo Elite: the interior is stunning...haven't eaten there yet but plan to try it soon...

        -- i've been pretty unhappy w/ all Thai food i've had in Shanghai...Simply Thai in the Fr.Concession is maybe the best of the bunch, but only mediocre by Thailand standards...imo, ok for a lunch if you happen to be craving Thai in the area but not a destination place

        1. re: klyeoh

          hi klyeoh, i stopped by the simply thai (in the area with all the shikumen-style buildings, which housed lots of european-style restaurants) for a light, early dinner, tonight. just wanted to report back and thank you for the heads up.

          i found the food sort of chinese-ified, but enjoyable, overall. we had the spicy beef salad (good), authentically spicy green papaya salad, and a stirfry of chicken with basil, which i didn't really find distinguishable from chinese stirfries. with a glass of wine and a margarita, the total came to about 260 RMB.

          i don't know the scene for thai food in shanghai very well at all and have never been to thailand (though I've eaten homemade thai food made by friends). by NYC standards, the food was not bad and thankfully not overly sweet.

          'preciate the tip!

          1. re: cimui

            It's always a pleasure to hear feedback from a fellow CH, cimui. Well, Simply Thai is as good as it can get in Shanghai though, as you've said, it's very much adjusted to local tastes.

            A place which is recommended by some relatives who've lived in Shanghai the last couple of years is Thai House at Wuding Lu. There's been conflicting reviews about the place by folks I know - some loved it, some don't. I wished I'd tried it myself to draw my own conclusion. It's simple but more authentic than Simply Thai - forget the ambience, and this place is cash-only. You can read more from this blog:


            P.S. - I was supposed to fly to Bangkok this weekend for a couple of weeks, but the current political unrest/violence has put paid to that. You have to taste the food in restaurants which cater to local Thais to know what you've been missing!

            1. re: klyeoh

              klyeoh, it really is a shame about the recent political unrest in thailand. i was hoping to take a weekend there, as well, this trip. (thailand is very, very high on my list of foodie destinations to visit.) i hope, when you end up going, you go and return safely.... and i can't wait to read about your great chowhound adventures, there!

              1. re: klyeoh

                Thai House is the only place i'll eat Thai food in SH...i've had many very good meals there...however, their second location in Xuhui is nowhere near as good as the Wuding Lu location (at least that's how it was last June, the second location might have become more consistent since then)

                i'm not a fan of Simply Thai...not truly bad, but very westernized...

          2. Fu 1088 is THE place - food and atmos are both great - it's in a converted old mansion. there was a thread about it on this board recently.
            I'd go there over Whampoa - I find it a bit pretentious and uptight.
            Yongfoo elite is another I'd take over Whampoa, all three are similar in style (both food & decor)

            Jean Georges is a no brainer for a big night out in SH, and Laris is good too. Haven't been to New Heights and hadn't actually considered it before - the fact that you have it in your list makes me want to try it out...

            M is fine, (the Glamour Bar is great by the way), but for food I'd stick with JG and Laris. by the way, JG's decor beats Laris by a mile (Laris, apart from the marble entrance, is characterless)

            1 Reply
            1. re: e_ting

              Thanks for the heads-up on Fu 1088 (it's only 7 months old) - I'm always very excited when there's a new restaurant to discover.

              I'm flying into Shanghai tomorrow to attend a friend's wedding. In fact, I've already booked a table at Fu 1088, and invited the "about-to-wed" couple (both local Shanghainese) plus some relatives for a special dinner treat at Fu 1088 tomorrow evening.

            2. Haven't been to all, but ate at Sens & Bund last year, agree totally with kyleoh's post below - and can add switcheroo on wine to the list of woes (higher-priced wine substituted forthe one ordered and charged at full price).
              Fu 1088 wins hands down in my opinion...see my post below

              1. Have deliberately stayed away from JG and Laris for fear of them being overhyped. Whampoa Club did not impress. New Heights doesn't look like it would impress me, but the private room in the dome looks like a nice location. Haven't been to M on the Bund for ages, but I would expect quality to be high.

                Loved Le Platane - Justin can take simple dishes and execute them flawlessly. The cote de boeuf and the crackling suckling pig are both excellent...

                1 Reply
                1. re: Peech

                  i peeked into the private room at New Heights when i was there for drinks: pretty romantic and great little place for a super-special, but i can't vouch for the food because i only drank there...