Lately I have been getting to Shanghai more often for work. M on the Bund is right around the corner from the Westin Bund Center where I usually stay. Convenience is certainly a plus, but what really keeps me coming back is the fantastic menu and Bund skyline views. So I was excited this time to be able to visit with Paul (instead of the usual business dinner), and share M on the Bund with him.
While the terrace was closed this time of year due to weather, we managed to score a window front table overlooking the Bund. M has a bird’s eye view on the Bund, from their 7th floor perch of a historic building from the 1920’s. The view is stunning….and watching the sparkling lights of Pudong across the river and the boats cruise down the river is mesmerizing.
But even more mesmerizing than the view is the menu. In fact, Paul stared at the menu for a full 15 minutes and finally proclaimed, “I haven’t seen anything I don’t want.” Completely flummoxed by the conundrum of several attractive choices, Paul finally sought out the help of the gracious manager, Prue, to recommend some signature dishes.
Along with some signature dishes which have remained, the menu has evolved to a winter themed affair with lots of hearty dishes…satisfying and comforting in a way winter food should be. And that’s one of the nice things about M on the Bund. They have been around for over a decade (since 1999), but aren’t afraid to evolve and grow. And I also like that they keep it fresh with seasonal offerings. Prue recommended a few starters and some main courses (serendipitously one I was already eyeing ;)…we were still hard pressed to choose, so we ordered several dishes. New Year’s resolutions be damned!
To start, Paul chose the Soup of Onion and Almonds Spiked with Sherry and flavored with Marjoram (78RMB / S$15.80 / $11.40 USD), while I chose to start with the Prawn and Crab Bisque with Prawn and Sesame Toast (78RMB / S$17.85 / $12.84 USD). Both soups were rich and satisfying. Paul’s in particular had a unique flavour profile, and I do think he chose it out of curiosity more than anything, and it worked splendidly. In fact, it was one of his favourite dishes of the evening.
For our next course, we chose 3 different dishes. The first was Audacious Aubergines (78RMB / S$19.48 / $14 USD), a trio of aubergines or eggplant. This may have been one of my preferred dishes of the evening. The first preparation was reminiscent of a Turkish dish I love (patlican salatasi)…a smoky, grilled eggplant mashed with olive oil in garlic. M’s interpretation of this dish featured tahini and mint and was divine. The other 2 preparations were also simple and rustic, diced with olives, almonds and parsley and then also rolled with red peppers.
The second dish was Pigeon Twice Cooked with Boudin Noir and Spicy Harissa (118RMB / S$24 / $17.22 USD). Paul usually doesn’t like pigeon and I must admit, I had never tried it before (despite it being a very common Asian dish, somehow thinking about eating it always brought dirty NYC pigeons to mind.). However, I think this dish transformed both of our pigeon prejudices. It was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, a result apparently ensured by the 2x cooking process. I particularly enjoyed the spicy and smoky harissa to further add depth to the flavour of the pigeon.
Our third appetizer was one of Paul’s favourites, Seared scallops on Cauliflower Puree with Cauliflower Florets, Pine Nuts and Sultanas (108RMB / S$24 / $17.22 USD). He described it as “scallops with a kick” and felt like the chef had succeeded in elevating what can be a very common dish these days.
And finally the mains… I ordered M’s Crispy Suckling Pig with roasted root vegetables, baked apples and “a good pig sauce” (258RMB / S$52.34 / $37.65 USD). I had my eye on this since I had checked the website the day prior. This is a destination dish – go to M and have this, I implore you. The skin was indeed a mouthful of crispy goodness….crunchy and crackly and full of flavour. While the pork was supremely succulent, its tender meat nearly melted in my mouth. The carmelized onions and beets should not be overlooked as a mere side dish, but rather are an integral part of the plate. While the small, sweet apples served their role to cut the fat and add a bit of brightness. Wow.A dish so sexy it needs to be seen at various angles ;)
Paul chose the Slow Baked Salt-Encased Leg of Lamb with fondant sweet potato, sautéed spinach and fennel and parsley salad (258RMB / S$52.34 / $37.65 USD). It was perfectly cooked mid-rare and Paul remarked it was almost like a brisket…. moist and fork tender.
We really shouldn’t have, and I mean we really shouldn’t have…but we moved on to dessert. Somehow no matter how full I am there seems to be a special place in my stomach for dessert. Again lots of tough choices, so we decided not to choose at all and went with the M’s Truly Grand Dessert Platter (128RMB / S$26 / $18.68 USD). The dessert sampler is an assortment of M’s desserts including a strawberry soufflé, the famous chocolate cake covered in gold leaf, panacotta e crostoli, poppyseed galette, a mini apple tart, M’s famous Pavlova and 2 ice creams. M suggests a minimum of 2 people, and we did put a significant dent in it, but it is wildly extravagant and maybe more appropriate for 3-4 people. Paul’s favourite was the chocolate cake covered in gold leaf, super rich and fudgy, it is hard to resist. While for me, I preferred the Pavlova, its light texture and crispy meringue topped in fruit was somehow rich and yet light…heavenly and yet sinful.
As we wrapped up the meal, we agreed while the view is no doubt stunning, it is the food that will keep us coming back. And this is really refreshing, because in my opinion there are too many “restaurants with a view” that coast on their locale and serve mediocre food – but not Mon the Bund. And we are not alone in this opinion. M on the Bund has countless awards, was recently named in Miele Guide’s Top 20 restaurants of Asia yet again in 2010 (they were also on the 2008 and 2009 list)., “Most Popular Restaurant” by Shanghai Zagat readers, and many, many more.
To make a night of it, try Glamour Bar for glam cocktails before or after dining at M on the Bund. This is M’s oh so chic cousin on the 6th floor of the same building.
Also, if you are new to Shanghai, ask for M on the Bund’s complementary mini guide – a hihglights list of great shopping, gallery, nightlife and dining recommendations.
M on the Bund
Locations also in Beijing and Hong Kong
7/F, No.5 The Bund ( corner of Guangdong Lu )
Shanghai 200002 China
Telephone: +86 (21) 6350 9988