On May 31, 2014, Austrian chocolate makers, Zotter, opened their own chocolate theater in Shanghai. Although I had never heard of Zotter chocolate before, I read about the chocolate tasting tour and knew that I had to check it out. Zotter Chocolate Theater (Shanghai International Fashion Center, Bldg 9, 2866 Yangshupu Lu; 杨树浦路2866号9号楼) is definitely a bit of a trek and in the middle of nowhere. I recommend that you take a cab so that you don’t get lost.
The tour starts with a 20-minute video where you learn more about the Zotter family and their chocolate roots. The company prides itself in being the only manufacturer in Europe who produces chocolates starting from the bean (bean-to-bar) exclusively in organic and fair quality. In the video, you see some of the cocoa bean farmers he works with and where he sources his raw materials from.
Our tour was led by a lovely woman who spoke Mandarin, Shanghainese, English and German. I was literally in awe of her language abilities. Everyone get a cute porcelain spoon to try the different chocolates. You first taste raw cocoa mass with absolutely no sugar or milk added. It’s extremely bitter. With each passing room, you get close and closer to the final product.
There are seriously so many different flavor combinations and it does feel little bit like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. They had combinations ranging from yoghurt and strawberries to even bacon. Zotter sell a lot of different chocolates and you basically get to try ALL the flavors, which is handy so you know what to buy afterward.
I think my favorite part of the tour was the drinking chocolate bar. Each member gets a small glass of hot milk and also picks a small chocolate bar. You set the chocolate in the milk for a few minutes and then mix it all in. I went with a simple flavor and picked vanilla bean, but they had flavors like banana and coffee too. Even though it was simple, I really liked my drinking chocolate because it had a rich vanilla bean flavor (you could even see the vanilla bean flecks) and then you could control the sweetness by adding more milk.
At the end of the tour, you enter the chocolate store. It’s honestly a little bit overwhelming since there are so many choices. In case you see something you don’t want, you can still customize your own combination on laptops at the mixing bar.
This truly is a tasting tour. I was expecting to see more of the manufacturing action and wanted to see the factory churning out chocolate bars. But, you don’t see that (unless it’s because I visited on a Sunday), and it’s really more of an opportunity to taste all their offerings. The tour is interesting and I did learn new things. I think it’s worth the 180 RMB/person. If you’re a chocolate fanatic, you’ll have a good time. I definitely recommend bringing a bottle of water or even a couple of crackers to try and break up all the sweetness and cleanse your palate.