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A birds eye view on the Bund and fine French dining from the 36th Floor of the Shangri La Hotel

I think we might be addicted to multi-course degustation menus. You might think this is lazy, to let the chef pick for you. But in reality it is the diner’s best opportunity to see what the chef can really do – his highlight reel in a way. And as the keen observers of culinary trends that our readers no doubt are, you will notice this is all the rage. Maybe it has something to do with the new “rock star” or “celebrity chef” culture, maybe it is diners’ increasing demand for the best quality…whatever it is, this is what we tend to order when it is available. And so on a recent visit to Jade on 36 in Shanghai at the Shangri La Hotel, we decided to give their 5 course tasting menu a run through.

There were actually 2 gastronomic tasting menus on offer – the Acqua and the Firma. The Acqua inspired by all things sea (538 RMB / $ USD / S$) and the Firma (688 RMB / $ USD / S$) inspired by all things land or meat. There were 4 of us dining that night and we split evenly down the middle – 2 ordering the Acqua and 2 ordering the Firma. How convenient! 😉

The Acqua menu consisted of:

  • L’Ormeau– lightly pan seared abalone with tomato compote & eggplant dressing
  • Les Moules – creamy mussel soup with vegetables julienne
  • Darne de Turbot – turbot fish with capers, lemon, potato & chicken jus
  • Citron – lemon meringue tart with basil syrup
  • Petit fours – with coffee or tea

The Firma menu consisted of:

  • Foie Gras D’oie – goose liver terrine with truffles, Muscat jelly & raspberry dressing
  • St Germain – yellow split pea soup with croutons & bacon
  • Escargots – pan fried snails vineyard style & French toast with sweet spices
  • Boeuf Wagyu – wagyu beef sirloin with seasonal vegetables, shallots & pepper sauce
  • Macaroon – chestnut macaroon & vanilla poached pears with coffee or tea

As is customary these days, we started with a surprise amuse bouche from the chef – a pea soup with coconut foam and cheese cracker. It was a classic rendition of pea soup slightly modernized. I used to be a foam cynic, thinking that they were a bit pretentious and typically superfluous, but I must admit I am coming around… the burst of coconut added an unexpected twist that was appreciated. The cheese cracker, however, was a really a taste afterthought.

In general while both gastronomic menus read as quite innovative and tempting, I will say we were a bit let down in some cases by the execution on a few dishes. Somehow the concepts were more impressive than the actual dishes. For example, the pan fried snails and french toast which should have been an intriguing juxtaposition of flavour profiles but instead was, in a word, bland. Also the abalone which should have been a delicacy exalted to the next level, was instead rather ordinary.

Interior a mix of modern and Chinese styles