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May 8, 2014 08:21 AM

A week at the Shangri-la Hotel. .

Looking to go late fall and wondering how the food is at the hotel?
Anyone been?

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  1. L'Abeille is supposed to be good. but so are many, many other restaurants in Paris.

    I hope you do not want to eat only at the hotel ?

    (I just looked at the special caviar menu !! I wished I have 680E + 600E for air transport!!)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Maximilien

      Oh boy, am l with you on the caviar menu.
      l am here already but past my meager budget.

    2. One of my favorite posters from Vegas and San Diego.....looking forward to your research/feedback in this forum....VG

      1. Been there for obliged expense-account meals in both L'Abeille and La Bauhinia (but not Shang Palace)... excellent nosh but big BIG bucks and not much fun.

        1. Ms. L. and I had probably the finest Cantonese meal of our lives at the Shang Palace last Oct.with impeccable service (our tea cups never went empty) in beautiful surroundings. We started with pork stuffed dim sum then ordered family style so we could share, mix and match style; fried rice, spicy shrimp with asparagus and a trio of roasted meats, strips of duck, pork and chicken.

          Dessert was a refreshing platter of exotic fruits. here is a photo of our main course, family style and the fruit platter.

          15 Replies
          1. re: Laidback

            The Shang Palace is indeed very good albeit pricey (for me).

            1. re: John Talbott

              Not worth the money, but that's just me.

              1. re: John Talbott

                Pricey indeed but anyone spending a week at the Shangri-la is probably not too worried about price, and indeed the setting, service, presentation and quality were of the highest order.

                1. re: Laidback

                  I absolutely agree with that, though I have a problem with the setting (totally windowless).

                  My preference for more down-to-earth versions of Cantonese cooking explains my opinion. I often hear: good Cantonese food doesn't have to be cheap, but my reaction is to think the other way round; "since it can be excellent while not being pricey, then why should it have to be pricey?"
                  I admit that both in Hong Kong and in Guangzhou I've had "haute Cantonese food" for a high price. I understand why the price is high, but that is not my favorite form of Cantonese cooking. And here, at Shang Palace, I do think the price is over the top.

                  1. re: Ptipois

                    I certainly agree that it is expensive and like you I know why.

                    1. re: Ptipois

                      "...since it can be excellent while not being pricey, then why should it have to be pricey?".

                      Can't it be both? We accept that European based food can be good across the price spectrum so why do we expect "ethnic" foods to be cheap, why don't we expect the grand or complex dishes of non-western cuisines to also be expensive?

                      So why is some Cantonese food expensive, to start: Cantonese food is one of the more refined and subtle Chinese cuisines often requiring high quality ingredients and very skilled chefs. For example you can certainly you can get cheap and tasty Char Siu if you use cheap lower quality pork etc. But really good Char Sui needs good pork carefully selected for the number of layers of fat. it is then cooked to achieve exactly the right balance between fat and meat to achieve the ideal texture. Therefore it gets pretty expensive.

                      Next Cantonese food also has a lot of shellfish/fish and this in invariably expensive. Certainly mass produced prawn won tons mean you can get a bowl of soup for a few dollars, but great Har Gau need really high quality, fresh prawns and they are not cheap. Add in the cost of live fish and shellfish to ensure simple steam dishes are absolutely fresh and the costs spiral.

                      Dim Sum is recognised as one of the cornerstones of Cantonese food, yet it is a style of food that requires a lot of skill to make small intricate parcels of food and again the skill and amount of labour required to make refined dim sum means it won't be cheap.

                      So a few reasons why Cantonese cuisine spans a range of price points.

                      Most Shangri-la hotels have Shang Palace Cantonese restaurants and even in China they have strong reputations for good food so I assume the Paris property is the same.

                      1. re: PhilD

                        Agreed. In general, the higher-end Cantonese restaurants are using higher-quality ingredients, which means higher prices. If you're having some bird nest, it isn't going to be cheap.

                        There's also delicious food at under-the-tracks-guy-smoking-a-cigarette-over-the-wok wok hay stalls.

                        In Hong Kong, prices can be astronomical. In Toronto, prices can be, but high-end Cantonese food tends to be more economically priced than high-end Western food because of the serving style. Similarly, when you have dim sum places serving carefully hand-elaborated, house-made dishes using expensive ingredients versus industrially-produced stuff with bargain-basement product, of course there will be a difference.

                        Good food doesn't have to be expensive. That being said, there's also good food that is expensive. If you prefer one style over the other, wonderful, but many can see the enjoyment in both styles.

                        That being said, my one visit to Shang Palace in Paris was not worth it, likely because I've experienced similar meals elsewhere that blew it out of the water in terms of value. If you don't have access to exceptional high-end Cantonese food normally, though, it may be worth a visit.

                        1. re: PhilD

                          Great post, Phil, captured my thoughts far more eloquently that I could have done.

                          Because labour is quite cheap and widely available in Asia, I think Cantonese food (thinking of Dim Sum as a particular case in point) is an absolute bargain for the quality of craftsmanship and ingredient. Ironically, that introduces some distortion on how the pricing is perceived outside of Asia.

                          And I am just as guilty as a victim of that distortion. I was in Paris when Shang Palace first opened its doors, and when I learned that the banquet menu was in the order of 90+ euros a head, my first reaction was "forget it". But this is because excellent Cantonese food is available far cheaper elsewhere, even at the "haute cuisine" level. I'm here in Singapore and I would be hard-pressed to spend that much on a Cantonese meal unless I went crazy on sharks' fins, abalone and the like.

                          That said, I don't think you and Ptipois' views are mutually exclusive. While I enjoy birds' nest and wok-fried lobster just as much as the next person, this is also the food of my childhood so I very much empathise with her views also.

                          1. re: Julian Teoh

                            Also relevant in our comparisons are the costs of service and ambiance. I can, within two blocks of my house, source quality dim sum for pennies. Literally. It's impossible to spend $10 on two people. But that is take-out or formica table service. One can also, in town, spend 20 times that for luxury ingredients and formal service.

                            1. re: mangeur

                              I can also source dim sum (recognising dim sum is a whole range of dishes not just steamed dumplings) for a low price few blocks from my house (I live in Hong Kong so I should be able to) and I agree the trappings of a place add to the cost.

                              However, my fundamental issue with this view is that good to great dim sum can be produced for pennies. Isn't it more accurate to say very "enjoyable" dim sum can be sourced a low price point, but then to recognise quality does come at a price?

                              I often wonder if those that argue they can eat great "ethnic" foods at low prices have experiences really great quality examples of the cooking. For example I used to be happy with much sushi and sashimi until I had it in a small back street place in Tokyo. It was a revelation that made all the others pale in comparison.....and whilst it was an unpretentious place it was far from cheap.

                              1. re: PhilD

                                "Isn't it more accurate to say very "enjoyable" dim sum can be sourced a low price point, but then to recognise quality does come at a price? "

                                Of course. Only a fool would argue that the product is the same. But one can put a cost on the various components: ingredients, technique, service and ambiance to arrive at a value ratio.

                            2. re: Julian Teoh

                              Don't get me wrong I love a plate of steaming pea shoot Beijing dumplings from a food stall as well.

                              1. re: Julian Teoh

                                "But this is because excellent Cantonese food is available far cheaper elsewhere, even at the "haute cuisine" level. I'm here in Singapore and I would be hard-pressed to spend that much on a Cantonese meal unless I went crazy on sharks' fins, abalone and the like."

                                My point exactly. The problem for me is that the overall quality of the Cantonese food at Shang Palace is definitely inferior to its would-be equivalent in Guangdong, Hong Kong, S'pore, etc. — thus the price is not justified for the customer, even if it socially makes sense. All price questions left aside, you comparatively eat far better Cantonese food at Likafo than at Shang Palace.

                                The food at Shang Palace is not bad, it is quite good indeed, but remains very far from reaching the high quality that is reachable in China. So I don't see the point of the price tag if it is only justified by the setting, the staff, the economy of a palace hotel, and of course by the very real efforts that the chef and the staff took right from the start to locate local ingredients of the same quality as the ones they'd find in South China.

                                A task at which, I must say, however hard and earnest they tried, they were not very successful, for there is a deep difference between good Southern Chinese ingredients and good French ingredients. They may be on an equal level of quality but they don't have the same taste, texture, fat content, they cook differently, etc. And South Chinese food was designed for Asian ingredients. Hence that feeling of approximation that I get whenever I eat at Shang Palace.

                                (In that case, I much prefer to go to a place that serves reasonably-priced dim sum/Cantonese food, like Tricotin, Impérial Choisy, Likafo, Mandarin de Choisy, because in that range of price the quality is much closer to what I find in the best Guangzhou dim sum institutions. I don't know why it is so, but it is.)

                                I believe the "quality gap" between cheap-yummy food cooked the right way in Guangdong and Cantonese haute cuisine as it is served in palace hotels and the like is not very significant. Not significant enough at least to justify the leap in price in some places (Shang Palace for instance).

                                Comparisons with French food are difficult since it is easy to be happy with expensive food (and by "expensive" I also mean the 50€ neobistrot price range, which remains unaffordable for most French people), while the quality of cheap/everyday French restaurant food has really gone down the drain between the 1980s and our times. This is not the case in Asia.

                                I also strongly disagree with Shang Palace's policy to "lighten" the food in general to please the French calorie-conscious obsessions. It is so wrong. Cantonese food needs a little fattiness to be good. Not tons of it, but the right proportion. I find the food at Shang Palace to be overly dry. That is OK with the raw fish salad but really bad for, say, the siu mai.

                                1. re: Ptipois

                                  Totally agree that the prices here seem extreme. Especially agree with the comment about cooking regional foods with ingredients from another region. It rarely works well especially at the top end when ingredient quality (and dare I say authenticity) really matters.

                                  I have often postulated that the reason why a lot of Asian food, and Thai in particular is less good in Europe is access to the correct ingredients. And I hear David Thompson moved his Nahm restaurant from London tho Bangkok because the supply chain was so erratic.

                                  Sometimes its just better to eat food where it comes from and recognise food from far away when eaten at home will inevitably be a pastiche of the real thing.

                                  I face that where I live we have lots of French restaurants (I am convinced we have more French in HK now than live in France) but few are good, and fewer are cheap. The rare/expensive ingredients like foie gras, pintarde, truffles, cheese etc are flown in but when paired with sub-standard local basics like tomatoes, potatoes etc the food just miss the mark. Its so much better to head to France and enjoy the real thing.

                                  1. re: PhilD

                                    'I have often postulated that the reason why a lot of Asian food, and Thai in particular is less good in Europe is access to the correct ingredients.'

                                    l agree wholeheartedly and find the two cuisines that suffer the most in uprooting them are Thai and Vietnamese. In the US especially they become like Tex-Mex their own cuisine, popular, fatty, sweet and invariably too cheaply made.

                    2. I always get a kick at how replies to straightforward, simple questions morph into philosophical discourses. Perhaps a straightforward, simple answer would be that the food is above average but very expensive and yes a few of us have been there recently.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Laidback

                        Love all the responses and look forward to dining there.