8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana opened in Shanghai in February 2012 and it is one of the hottest restaurants in town. I had to call three times before I could make a reservation and I finally succeeded when I made reservations over a week in advance. Originally hailing from Hong Kong, 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana is the only Italian restaurant outside of Italy that has Three Michelin Stars. Although Michelin has yet to produce a guide for Shanghai, I eagerly anticipate the day when the Shanghai location receives the same accolade.
8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana was one of the most sublime meals of my life. My friend started her meal the warm scallops, which were melt-in-your-mouth perfect. I could not pass up the goose liver duet– pan seared foie gras on one side and a terrine with smoke eel on the other side. I have never seen foie gras with smoked eel before and the combination is a stroke of pure genius. Both the goose liver and the eel are richer ingredients, but they complemented each other really well. For my main course, I had to order the burrata cheese ravioli with black olives, fresh aubergine and tomatoes. Honestly, how can you ever say “no” to burrata cheese? Even though the dish was simple, everything was so flavorful. The ravioli pasta was paper thin and the cheese was so smooth. I was loving the tomato sauce and felt like I was eating sun-kissed tomatoes straight from vine. My friend’s tagliolini pasta with fresh clams was light and refreshing with tomatoes and celery sprinkled throughout the sauce.
I didn’t really think anything could make our meal any better, but the desserts were fantastical and even more impressive. I ordered the strawberry rice bavarois, which was a vanilla and cardamon rice pudding with strawberry sauce and chamomile ice cream. I loved how it was served with a crispy sugary shell that was meant to be broken in and mixed with the rest of the bavarois. That extra “crunch” made eating the dessert more fun and unique. My friend’s dessert was truly the pièce de résistance of the night. A hollowed chocolate egg was filled with mousse and served on top of crème brûlée with a chocolate and sherry layer. The presentation was absolutely gorgeous with gold leaf, decorating the dessert.
My friend and I met Executive Chef Alan Yu, who was born in Shanghai and raised in the U.S. He told us how he’s been able to have real creative direction with the menu and make it different from Hong Kong’s menu. I raved about his foie gras terrine with eel (his creation) and lamented on the foie gras ban in California (he feels my pain). The restaurant is also planning on opening a rooftop bar, which would have stunning views of Pudong and amazing drinks to match.
If you’re looking to celebrate a special occasion or if you’re in the mood to treat yourself, 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana is the place to go. It’s exciting to see such a high-caliber restaurant open in Shanghai and I can only imagine the success Chef Yu and the rest of the team will bring. Until then, I hope the Michelin Guide will change its mind soon and finally review restaurants in Shanghai because I can’t think of anywhere else that is more deserving.