Wednesday, May 30, 2018

TIMELESS CLASSICS RULE AT 'NEW' SHANGHAI


Marble-smooth, cool and faintly boozy from the Chinese wine-imbued chicken on the palate, the Chilled Drunken Chicken in Chinese Rice Wine (RM38) leaves us feeling a tad heady at first bite. It is indeed a stellar opening volley for our lunch at the new, refreshed Shanghai Restaurant.
Gone is the heavily art deco slanted ambience of old. Befitting the change of times and trends, the refreshed interior of Shanghai now boasts modern, understated elegance awash in muted, nude tones and linear lines.
A spacious lounge tucked away opposite the restaurant entrance is outfitted with a sleek long marble-top bar. Comfy couches and plush armchairs evoke an exclusive albeit inviting clubby feel -- a serene haven to lounge briefly over pre-dinner aperifits.
The sophisticated ambience sets a dramatic stage for Executive Chinese Chef Wong Wing Yuek to showcase his refined Shanghainese fare. Our appetiser trio exemplifies the chef's artistry perfectly; as rendered in the handpainted bird and foliage on our plates. In addition to the chicken, our tastebuds thoroughly relished the savoury Deep-fried Beancurd filled with Shredded Black Mushrooms (RM30). Clean and refreshing, the Japanese Cucumber with Minced Garlic and Soy Sauce (RM30) lends some crunch and punch to the overall equation. 
 
At the helm of this hallowed outpost is Executive Chinese Chef Wong Wing Yuek, a Shanghainese and once aspiring violinist. After government regulations in Hong Kong halted his musical dreams, the pragmatic chap channelled his then 29-year old verve to helping his uncle in the resto biz and has never looked back since.

Music world's loss is culinary world's gain as far as Chef Wong is concerned. Having chalked up a reputable track record since 1999 at Shanghai, the soft-spoken veteran chef always has a hidden ace or two up his torque. Our Fish Fillet Soup with Wild West Lake Vegetable (RM48 per person) serves as good proof.
 
Clear and delicately sweet from the slices of soon hock (marbled goby) fish fillet in it, the broth piques our interest with the inclusion of some slippery, gelatinous wild West Lake green known as shu’un choi. The stems and curled greens are sheathed in a layer of translucent gel-like substance, giving them a smooth, subtly gummy crunch.
 
That paves the way for Shanghai's signature Braised Spanish “Dong Po” Pork with Mini Buns (RM48 per piece). According to Chef Wong, the distinct fatty layered pork dish features Spanish Iberico pork "as the meat texture is smoother and richer. Also the pigs forage and feed on acorns, mushrooms and fruits resulting its meaty sweetness once cooked.

Douse generously with truffle oil, one can already detect the impending arrival of the Stir-fried Seafood Noodle with Assorted Mushrooms and Truffle Oil (RM48) before its appearance. While the varying textures and clear, intermingling nuances of the fungus, bamboo pith and seafood are palate-pleasing enough, the musky truffle oil is somewhat redundant and can be offered as an option IMHO.

No visit to this bastion of Shanghainese dining is complete without savouring xiao loong bao -- Steamed Shanghainese Meat Dumpling (RM25). Nibble the tip of the soup-filled dumpling and carefully suck up the piping hot, sweet broth before you devour the meaty morsel. A sumptuously delicious treat, I can assure you one is enough to satisfy when complemented by the resto's fabulous specialities.
Dessert treats range from the spongy, salty-sweet Steamed Shanghainese Layer Cake with Custard & Salted Egg Yolk (RM20 for 4 pcs) and Black Sesame Dumplings in Ginger Syrup (RM18). If you are partial to fragrant flavours, do try the tong yuen (glutinous rice dumplings) in floral osmanthus syrup instead to conclude your visit on a high note.
 

For reservations, call SHANGHAI RESTAURANT, tel: 03 2719 8288/8537 or 03 2715 9000. Address: 1st Floor, JW Marriott Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Bukit Bintang, KL.

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