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Special Night in Shanghai - Help!

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I'm going to be spending my 5th wedding anniversary in Shanghai with my wife, and was hoping to get some restaurant recommendations?

What I'm after is something classy, memorable and a bit special. It must serve up Chinese fare (while we're in China we both want to eat _Chinese_ food!).

Possible restaurants my searching has turned up so far are:

Fu 1088
Yongfoo Elite
South Beauty

From what I've read so far, Fu 1088 is at the top of my list. Is this a good choice?

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  1. Fu 1088 is located in a large turn-of-the-century mansion & consisted of a collection of private dining rooms only.

    Personally, I'd still go for Whampoa Club at the Bund. It's got the ambience, the view & the style for a special occasion. And Jereme Leung's modern take on Shanghainese cuisine is fabulous.

    9 Replies
    1. re: klyeoh

      I've read other people complaing that Whampoa Club is all style and no substance (that is, it looks good, but the food isn't anything special). Certainly from the pictures I've seen it does look like an impressive space. You obviously disagree about the quality of the food, but what are the prices like?

      Fair point about Fu 1088 though - I'm not 100% sold on the private room idea.

      Have you ever tried Fu 1088, Yongfoo Elite or South Beauty?

      1. re: GordonS

        Yes, in fact I managed to try all 3 restaurants in May during one of my visits to Shanghai - but it was my first time to Fu1088 (restaurant's quite new) and it was also for a special occasion: dinner treat for a close Beijingese friend & his Shanghainese fiancee. They both loved the food there.

        I've been to Yongfoo Elite a few times, too, in the past years - very nice, atmospheric place but basicaly catering to Western expats & businessmen. But its main dining room is quite grand.

        South Beauty is more "localised", with a fair share of Shanghainese middle-class clientele & overseas Chinese. It's cheaper than Yongfoo Elite & Whampoa Club by half. If you want to try South Beauty, go to its 881 Yan'an Lu outlet - much nicer than the other 3 outlets in Hongqiao (behind Parkson Supermarket), Shanghai Times Square and in the SuperBrand Mall, Pudong. I found the food in all 4 outlets to be exactly the same.

        I've always gone back to Whampoa Club whenever I'm in Shanghai, eventhough I also dine in many local restaurants which my relatives in Shanghai brought me to - some not accessible to non-Chinese speaking folks. Whampoa Club will cost around US$60-US$70 per head without drinks. Try the foie gras with stuffed red dates, and the drunken chicken topped with shaven Shaoxing wine sorbet.

        Whampoa Club's food may not exactly strike some people as being truly "authentic" Shanghainese but, for me, having tried over a hundred Chinese restaurants in Shanghai in the past 2 years alone, from budget eateries to mid-range/family restaurants to grand dining establishments, I'd still go back to Whampoa Club if I want a celebratory dinner. Nothing beats its Bund location, and its views of the glittering skyscrapers & giant TV billboards in Pudong over the Huangpu. To me, Whampoa Club and M on the Bund are must-visits whenever I'm in town.

        BTW, Chef Jereme Leung also brought a taste of Whampoa Club to China House, the Oriental Hotel, Bangkok. My dinner there when visiting my Thai relatives last July was simply the BEST Chinese meal I've had in Bangkok, ever:

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/540773

        1. re: klyeoh

          klyeoh certainly makes a compelling case for Whampoa Club. :o)

          Does anyone else have any recommendations or comments for Whampoa Club?

          1. re: GordonS

            I went to Whampoa Club once about 2 years ago, meeting up with my friend who flew in from NYC. We did have a table by the window with a view. He was flying in with his Chinese finacee for the first time, I think he was pretty happy.

            I thought the chef was reasonably creative in terms of trying to create "fusion", although at the time I wasn't wowed by his execution. Things may have changed. It's not a bad meal considering the food + view.

            I grew up with mom's Shanghainese, so sometimes it's tough for me to want to go to fancy schmancy places for Shanghainese... I stick to the traditional places w/o decor most of the time.

            1. re: Peech

              I agree absolutely with the comment made by Peech: if you are looking for really seriously good authentic Shanghainese food, then forget about the decor. Those with great ambiance tend to cater more for corporates and tourists rather than serious foodies.

              1. re: FourSeasons

                We'll be eating at less 'posh' establishments for the remainder of our stay in Shanghai :o)

                It's just that I wanted something a bit special for my wedding anniversary (and 'special' includes the decor for such a night)

                1. re: GordonS

                  Just sharing - some of the dishes I ordered during my last trip to Whampoa Club: pan-fried foie gras with kumquat confit; Braised Pork (dong po rou) & Sweet-sour Mandarin Fish (songsu guyu); cheesecake with red bean sauce & Shaoxing wine sorbet.

                   
                   
                   
      2. re: klyeoh

        Any ideas on whether a single diner can enjoy a meal at Fu 1088?
        Thanks,
        Mark

        1. re: Markcron

          Oh no! Unless you fancy being esconced alone in a large private room. I'd rather have a bar counter seat at T8 (Xintiandi) if I'm eating alone.

      3. You didn't say when you were planning this dinner, but if it's during the upcoming dazha (hairy) crab season, you owe yourselves a crab feast. You can pay upwards of 800¥pp at Xin Guang, but dianping.com users give an equaly high rating to Ling Long Ge for half that price. It's on my own list for my October trip. Unfortunately, it's one of the new-style restuarants with all private rooms, but that might suit your purpose.

        http://www.bestfoodinchina.net/node/202

        7 Replies
        1. re: Xiao Yang

          It won't be until the beginning of next year (we'll be visiting 6 other cities in the same trip, and I like to plan ahead :)

          While I love crab, my wife isn't too keen. When does the crab season run from and to?

          1. re: GordonS

            It usually begins in September (though I heard it started early this year) and runs through February, though the peak season is October-November.

            1. re: GordonS

              The best time for hairy crab is October till November. I think the quality in Jan or Feb would not be as good.

              But Xin Guang serves crab all year round, and does not just specialize in just hairy crab. However, if your wife is not too keen on crab, then I will not recommend a crab feast as the whole dinner from the first to last dish is about crab. And Xin Guang, though expensive, is not really a classy place, you go there for the crab but not the ambiance.

              1. re: FourSeasons

                I agree that it wouldn't make a lot of sense to spring for the full crab feast if one partner isn't fond of crab; there are plenty of a la carte opportunities to try it.

                1. re: Xiao Yang

                  Hairy crab for one is it then :o)

                  Thanks for the tip, I'll be sure to try it while in Shanghai!

                  1. re: GordonS

                    BTW, the Shanghainese somehow believe that October is the best time to consume the female hairy crab - its roe will be the richest during that period; and November is the best time to consume the male hairy crab (don't ask).

                    1. re: klyeoh

                      It's not a belief, it's a biological fact.

          2. We loved Fu 1088 when we were there in March. The food was wonderful and the private room thing very special indeed. It's very intimate for a couple, not a scene. The bill with a bottle of wine and several courses was around USD 110.00, well worth it. (I posted in full on Fu 1088 on this board in April.)

            8 Replies
            1. re: buttertart

              Damn, while klyeoh makes a compelling case for Whampoa Club, you make a compelling case for Fu 1088 (I read your full review)..!

              But what's your opinion on a private room in Fu 1088 vs a table with a view in Whampoa Club?

              1. re: GordonS

                Depends on whether you like quiet, very intimate settings (the waiter always knocks before entering) or scene restaurants - a table with a view could also be wonderful, the Shanghai skyline is a sight to behold. Haven't eaten at the Whampoa Club so can't compare the food. If this is a first visit, you might want to go there. Bear in mind that the neon lights on the skyscrapers and along the Bund are only illuminated on weekends (at least when we were there, locals can better advise on this point) and only to (?) 10 pm - the riverfront is not quite as snazzy unilluminated. Old Shanghai (Fu 1088) or new Shanghai (Whampoa Club) - both enticing, purely a matter of taste. You could have a drink on the terrace at New Heights and bask in the view, and have dinner at Fu 1088...

                1. re: buttertart

                  Then I think I've decided - Fu 1088 for dinner, then New Heights for a couple of beverages :D

                  We'll be eating at Hutong in Hong Kong a week beforehand, so I suppose we'll have had a "table with a view" already, and Fu 1088 sounds a bit different from the norm. I'm also loving the "Old Shanghai" look!

                  Thanks for your help in aiding in the battle against my chronic indecisiveness :)

                  1. re: GordonS

                    Happy to have helped. This place is really special. You can get views and scene resaturants anywhere, this you will not find except in Shanghai. Look forward to hearing about it after your visit.

                    1. re: GordonS

                      Since you've decided on Fu1088, thought I'd share with you some pics of my favorite dishes when I dined there in April this year: Lotus-root stuffed with glutinous rice, red-Cooked pork (their house speciality) and a selection of desserts which included panna-cotta, cheescake & parfait.

                       
                       
                       
                       
                      1. re: klyeoh

                        I'm now salivating onto my keyboard, but thanks :D

                      2. re: GordonS

                        Hutong has a pretty view but food reviews have been mixed at best -- you may want to read some chowish reviews before committing to it...i've never eaten there, but i stopped in at 10pm once and found the staff/hosts to be rude and clueless...

                        1. re: Simon

                          A friend of mine went recently and came back giving it rave reviews, so I guess I'll trust his judgement :)

                          Even if the food isn't all it's cracked up to be, every review I can find says the restaurant and its views are stunning, so I guess I won't be too dissapointed.

                          I did check out some reviews on Chowhound tho, and it's a mixed bag between good and mediocre reviews.

                          I'll report back once I've been :D