Shanghai: Brunch at Hakkasan and Café Sambal

Hakkasan Brunch: Crispy Duck Salad and Assorted Dim Sum

Hakkasan Brunch: Crispy Duck Salad and Assorted Dim Sum

Normally, brunch for me is classic Western food: eggs, bacon, pancakes, fresh juice, all of the above. But Shanghai has some wonderful brunch options for Asian food too. I recently experienced two great brunches in Shanghai, one at Hakkasan (5/F, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu; 中山东一路18号5楼) and the other at Café Sambal (Block A, No 37, 259 Jiashan Lu; 嘉善路259弄37号A栋).

Straight from London, Hakkasan is a Cantonese-style restaurant on the Bund. If you want a nice meal on the Bund without having to pay an arm and a leg, dim sum brunch at Hakkasan is a great option. For 298 RMB (plus a service charge), you can get the crispy duck salad, soup, assorted dim sum, main dish, sautéed vegetables, rice, dessert, mocktail and tea. That is a healthy amount of food.

The crispy duck salad is Hakkasan’s signature salad and I can definitely see why. It is a light and refreshing mix of pomelo, pine nuts, duck, chopped shallots, lotus root and watercress. I could have eaten an entire bowl of that for brunch and been perfectly content. For dim sum, you can choose three steamed or three fried pieces. My girlfriend and I ordered one of each so we could see the assortment. There were some clever twists (deep-fried pumpkin dumpling with truffle oil) and also some classics (har gau). Truthfully speaking, it is not the best dim sum I’ve ever had in my entire life. I have really high standards though since dim sum is one of my all-time favorite past times and I used to live in Hong Kong. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop us from eating it all.

Hakkasan's Sea Bass and Sirloin

Hakkasan’s Sea Bass and Sirloin

For our main dishes, I ordered the stir-fried black pepper Angus striploin cubes and my friend got the grilled Chilean seabass in Chinese honey. The beef was so incredibly tender and tasty. It had this wonderful caramelization on the outside while still being slightly spicy with the black pepper. It was some of the best beef dishes I’ve had in Shanghai. I was pleasantly surprised when the seabass arrived “char siu” way. I love BBQ honey pork and this seabass was served in the same style. I liked that the seabass wasn’t too sweet and had a nice crispy exterior.

Hakkasan Dessert

Hakkasan Dessert

Macaron Display

Macaron Display

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Celebrating my Name Day in Paris

Galerie Vivienne in Paris

Galerie Vivienne in Paris

I love this whole European concept of a “name day” and I wish I had known about it earlier. Basically, every single day of the year is associated with a specific name of a saint. The church would then have festivals for certain saints on certain days. In today’s world, it’s basically a 2nd birthday and a great excuse to treat yo self!

Technically, I had a belated name day celebration because Saint Jacqueline’s day was February 8 and my workload was too heavy to partake in any festivities. Fear not, I made up for it this weekend!

I first stopped by the Pinacothèque de Paris to check out the latest Hiroshige and Vincent Van Gogh rêves de Japon exhibit. There was two different exhibits: one focused on Hiroshige and the other focused on how Japan’s artwork influenced Van Gogh’s work. I enjoyed both a lot, but if you only have time to visit one, I’d recommend the Van Gogh exhibit. They had banners up showing Hiroshige’s art and you could directly compare it to Van Gogh’s; it was really fascinating to see the direct influence. If you don’t read French, be sure to ask for an English translation at the information desk. The two exhibits are in town until March 17, 2013.

Galerie Vivienne in Paris

Adorable Alleyway, Galerie Vivienne and a Poster from the Pinacothèque

Afterward, I decided that I was going to walk the 3+ kilometers from Madeleine to the Marais and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air in Paris. I loved stumbling upon Galerie Vivienne, an alleyway full of restaurants, cute boutique stores and even a vintage bookstore. I came really close to buying that print of a girl holding a heart. It was a still a fruitful day of shopping at Comptoir Des Cotonniers and at FrenchTrotters. FrenchTrotters is this hip store in the Marais that totally reminded me of a French Anthropologie. The store features local French designers and they also produce their own line of clothing. At FrenchTrotters, I couldn’t resist a retro, multi-colored weekend bag and I have a feeling I will be stopping by the store every time I go to the Marais.

Breizh Cafe

Cider, savory crêpe, salted caramel, banana and Chantilly cream crêpe.

I had a specific destination in the Marais– Breizh Café. Originally from Japan, Breizh Café serves the most delectable crêpes in savory and sweet forms. I already knew that the actual restaurant would be crazy and full (you have to make a reservation) so I headed next door to the L’Epicerie Breizh Café, which is a small gourmet food store. They have one communal table with six seats, but they serve the exact same crêpes! I ordered the savory crêpe with cheese, egg, ham and artichoke hearts and also a salted caramel crêpe with pears and Chantilly whipped cream (not pictured). I’ve eaten savory crêpes at many establishments and I’ve come to the conclusion that I like sweet ones much better. Don’t get me wrong, my salty crêpe was good, but I just think the dessert ones are SO much better. Straight from Brittany, the salted caramel  has that perfect smokey, acidic taste to complement the sweetness from the fruit. I like how the salted caramel wasn’t too sweet and wasn’t overwhelming. It was definitely the best crêpe I’ve had in Paris. 

Parc de Belleville

Gorgeous View from Parc de Belleville

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