Shanghai: Taian Table

Chef Jeno Racz

Taian Table | Chef Jeno Racz

It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten really excited about the restaurant scene in Shanghai. Recently, I had dinner at Taian Table and it was definitely one of the most memorable meals I’ve had here. Headed by Chef Stefan Stiller and Chef de Cuisine, Jeno Racz, Taian Table is a private dining restaurant with 20 counter seats and two small tables that can set up to 4. The location is a secret and only revealed after you’ve made a reservation. There is only one menu, which is completely based off the seasonal produce. You can choose from a 14-course (1,288 RMB) or 10-course (988 RMB) meal.

Taian Table | Amuse Bouches

Amuse Bouches

My AMAZING gin and tonic with a vegetable salad

My AMAZING gin and tonic with a vegetable salad

I’d definitely recommend sitting at the counter because it’s fun to be right in the middle of all the action. We started our meal with amuse bouches of mackerel with pickled pineapple relish, turbot in a pea puree with shrimp foam, and a foie gras truffle with sweet wine dressing. Next came the vegetable salad. Pickled vegetables served atop of baba ghanoush with a vanilla dressing. Probably the most intriguing bite of the trio was the tomato-shaped goat cheese. Chef freezes the goat cheese and then dips it in gazpacho, which solidifies against the cold cheese (I’m simplifying the complex process). I would also recommend the gin and tonic, which is served with Hendricks gin and freeze-dried cucumber sorbet. It’s probably the best gin and tonic I’ve ever had and so incredibly refreshing.

Scallop Ceviche

Scallop Ceviche

King Crab

King Crab

The scallop ceviche was one of my favorite dishes. Topped with an oyster and sea urchin, the ceviche was paired with a lime-coconut and chili dressing. I really liked how there is this rich contrast of the spiciness and citrus from the sauce and then a sweetness from the fresh seafood. It was a bite worth savoring. Our next dish was Alaskan king crab mixed with mayonnaise, chopped roses and wasabi tobiko. I was really astounded by the presentation and all the small details in every dish. The green sauce, which is brushed on the bottom, is actually wasabi cream!

Onsen Egg

Onsen Egg

The beautiful presentation continued with the 62 degree-cooked onsen egg, which was on top a bed of spinach and next to 42-month old Iberico ham. The “nest” was actually fried spring roll wrappers and was super delicious with the creamy egg. I forgot to take a photo of the following dish, but it was a celeriac and parmesan cream on top of a beet root custard with raspberries and pepper oil.

Sea Bass

Sea Bass

Yellow Fin Tuna

Yellow Fin Tuna

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Shanghai: Bull & Claw Brunch and Al’s Diner

Bull and Claw: Lobster Eggs Benedict

Bull and Claw: Lobster Eggs Benedict

It’s hard to get excited for brunch in Shanghai. I know, total #firstworldproblem if there ever was one. Ever since Madison closed, there’s been a hole in my life because brunch just doesn’t compare elsewhere. Also, I don’t want to pay an arm and a leg just to eat brunch on the Bund. I’m really happy to report that Bull & Claw (466 Xikang Lu; 西康路466号) in Jing’an was one of the most enjoyable brunches I’ve had in ages. It was warm this past weekend and they were able to open all of the sliding doors and let in the fresh air.

Bull & Claw in Shanghai

Bull & Claw in Shanghai

Bull & Claw offers a three-course set menu: 1 course for 85 RMB, 2 courses for 145 RMB and 3 courses for 165 RMB. Considering that they had cocktails and fresh juices listed as one of the courses, it’s really easy to decide to just splurge and go for all three.

Bull and Claw Brunch

Bull & Claw Brunch

I ordered the brioche French toast and lobster eggs Benedict while my friend ordered the Turkish menemen. I have to admit that the French toast was the only lackluster part of my meal. The bread was really dry and although the salted caramel sauce was delicious, it couldn’t make up for the fact that the bread was horribly dry. I want my French toast to be a custard-like consistency after soaking in beautiful creamy batter all night. This French toast didn’t really have much taste.

However, the rest of the food made up for the poor French toast. While you do have pay an extra 80 kuai for the lobster eggs Benedict, it is totally worth it. The English muffins were toasted well and topped with bacon, a healthy portion of spinach, beautiful pieces of lobster, perfectly poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. I loved my dish. The lobster tasted fresh with great texture (not that weird mushy consistency). The spinach and bacon made the dish felt more substantial and the whole dish is surprisingly filling. I couldn’t even finish it (and I ate this first before trying the French toast). My friend’s Turkish menemen was absolutely delicious. Similar to a shashuka, two eggs are baked in a casserole dish with tomatoes, onions, peppers, sumac, yoghurt and spices. The menemen definitely has a little bit of kick and is spicy and flavorful. You also get two toasted pieces of bread to soak up all that liquid goodness. I can’t wait to go back to Bull & Claw soon and try more of their dishes.

Milkshake at Al's Diner

Milkshake at Al’s Diner

I was really excited to try Al’s Diner (204 Xinle Lu; 新乐路204号), which offered greasy, comfort food and homemade ice cream from Gracie’s. Gracie’s started with a small ice cream cart outside of House of Lasagna, but Al’s Diner offers a full ice cream bar with a myriad of different flavors. You can make any of her ice cream flavors into a milkshake and I decided to get the Winterberry and White Chocolate one. Considering the high quality of her ice cream, this milkshake was absolutely magical. It was bursting with berry flavor and so deeply satisfying. The only thing that could have made it better would be if it was slightly thicker and also slightly cheaper (60 RMB for a shake).

Al's Diner: Honey Sriracha Chicken Wings, Patty Melt and Kimchee Fried Rice

Al’s Diner: Honey Sriracha Chicken Wings, Patty Melt and Kimchee Fried Rice

When my friend and I met up, we were starving and quickly ordered the honey sriracha chicken wings, patty melt and kimchee fried rice. The chicken wings came in 2nd after the milkshake. They were crispy, but not too greasy, and had a nice sweet and spicy flavor. The accompanying cole slaw was really meh (needed more mayo), but that just leaves more space in your stomach for chicken.

We weren’t as pleased with our main dishes. The patty melt was two Australian beef patties with caramelized onions, mushrooms and Gouda cheese. The bread was buttered and toasted perfectly and the filling was done well, but the meat had no taste. It needed some more salt and pepper and I found myself slathering ketchup all over my melt. The side of fries were definitely good with a great crisp. While the patty melt lacked flavor, the kimchee fried rice was bursting with it. Chinese sausage and mushrooms are mixed well in this rice and I liked the fried egg topping. I just found this rice to be WAY too oily and I couldn’t have more than a couple of bites.

I would love to go back to Al’s Diner, but I would try different dishes. I’ve heard really good reviews about the lemon ricotta and blueberry pancakes that I definitely want to try. While I did enjoy my milkshake, 60 RMB is a little too steep and I’d recommend going on Mondays when they have 30 RMB milkshake specials.

Thanksgiving #3 in Shanghai

Thanksgiving in Shanghai

Thanksgiving in Shanghai

It amazes me how quickly time passes and how I’m celebrating my third Thanksgiving in Shanghai. This was my 5th Thanksgiving ever spent away from my family. In some ways, you think it would get easier, but I do miss celebrating with my family in California.

Food Table Setting

Food Table Setting

I almost thought that I wouldn’t celebrate Thanksgiving this year. For the past two years, Lana has hosted Thanksgiving at Boxing Cat Brewery. But alas, Lana left Shanghai earlier this year and I didn’t really have too many American friends who could relate.

Ice Bucket for Wine

ICE BUCKET FOR WINE. I can’t believe she took the time to freeze it overnight.

As luck would have it, I made a brand-new friend who graciously invited me to her house for Thanksgiving meal. This girl makes EVERYTHING from scratch and spends a week prepping for the meal. I knew it was going to be epic, but I literally had no idea.

Gorgeous garlands hanging from the ceiling

Gorgeous garlands hanging from the ceiling

I felt the need to blog about Thanksgiving so that someone could showcase her beautiful meal. When I arrived in her apartment, I was stunned. It was a gorgeous table setting with so much attention to detail. All the guests were joking how Pinterest-worthy her decorations were and I couldn’t agree more. In truth, it made me feel like I’m going to be an inadequate wife/mother because I could never put any event together as beautifully as she did.

Thanksgiving Meal

Thanksgiving Meal

As if the room decoration wasn’t enough, she made: roast turkey, baked brie, peas, roasted corn, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, brussel sprout and kale salad,corn bread and cranberry sauce all from scratch. Oh, and 4 pies. Yes, 4 pies! If I had to do Thanksgiving in my house, it would take a month to prepare all that food.

4 pies!

4 pies!

Anyways, I wanted to thank my friend for inviting me to her lovely home and making this year’s Thanksgiving less lonely. Wherever you celebrate this year, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving from Shanghai!

Shanghai: Wellington Wednesday at Coquille

Coquille: Beef Wellington

Coquille: Beef Wellington

I’ve blogged about dinner at Coquille (29-31 Mengzi Road; 蒙自路29–31号)before, but I have been dying to try their beef wellington for months. Every Wednesday, you can reserve a beef wellington, which is as delicious as it is beautiful.

Face as size reference for golden beef wellington

Face as size reference for golden beef wellington

Served with au jus, mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus

Served with au jus, mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus

Coquille’s beef wellington is Australian tenderloin wrapped in foie gras, black truffle and mushroom spread, and proscuitto. All of this is wrapped in a golden pastry envelope. The wellington is served with au jus, roasted asparagus and mashed potatoes. It was nice to have a little bit of green on the plate to help cut the richness of the dish.

A sight so wonderful

A sight so wonderful

I was in awe of just how delicious this wellington was. The crust was so buttery and flaky and still slightly crispy. The beef was SO tender and one of the best pieces of red meat that I’ve had in Shanghai. I loved that it was cooked rare/medium rare. Seared foie gras is one of my favorite things in life and the combination with the beef was pure heaven. Having the mushroom and proscuitto helped add some more salt and complexity to the whole dish.

Wellington5

When you arrive at the restaurant, you still have to wait about 40 minutes before the wellington is served. Resist eating appetizers because it’ll be worth having that extra room in your stomach. It’s quite a lot of food for two people. My friend and I definitely rolled ourselves home afterward. I think it would be the perfect amount of food for 3 people.

Wellington3

Coquille’s beef wellington is about 650 RMB (including the sides) so it’s definitely a dish worth ordering for a special occasion. I would love to bring my parents sometime and it would be a great meal to celebrate Father’s Day. It was one of the best meals of my life and I can’t wait to have another “excuse” to eat it again.

Wellington6

 

Shanghai: YongFoo Elite and Han Mama

YongFoo Elite Garden

YongFoo Elite Garden

My mother was in town and she arranged a lunch with Chinese designer, Han Feng. Han Feng took us to the picturesque restaurant, YongFoo Elite (200 Yongfu Lu; 永福路200号), in the French Concession. YongFoo Elite is housed in an old historical manor, which over the years has served as the UK, Vietnam and Russia consulate. The house is surrounded by a beautiful garden that transports you to a different era.

Yong Foo Elite Food

Yong Foo Elite Food

Since Han Feng is a regular, she was in charge of the ordering. We had spring rolls filled with fish, fish filet pieces with bamboo, hong shao pork belly and stir-fried vegetables. My favorite dish was definitely the fish filet pieces with bamboo. The dish was so delicate with a simple fish sauce, but the fish was tender and practically melted in your mouth. Hong shao pork belly is a classic Shanghainese dish, but I really enjoyed this version. Sometimes hong shao pork belly can be overly sweet, but YongFoo Elite’s isn’t. The meat is braised perfectly and also very tender. While the spring rolls were very crisp and fresh, I wasn’t a fan of the fish-based filling. I prefer the pork/shrimp/vegetable variety instead. YongFoo Elite is a great Shanghainese restaurant to take out of town guests or someone you want to impress.

Han Mama

Han Mama

For a more casual bite, Han Mama (123 Nanyang Lu; 南阳路123号) offers affordable Taiwanese dishes in a modern and clean setting. When my friend and I went, we ordered the lu rou fan (braised pork over rice), dan dan mian (spicy sesame noodles), chili oil wontons and the beef noodles.

Han Mama Food

Han Mama Food

Lu rou fan is one of my favorite dishes and is total comfort food. There is something soul-warming about having soy-braised pork with ton of sauce over rice and reminds me of a dish my mother would make. Han Mama’s version of lu rou fan definitely did not disappoint. The dan dan mian didn’t leave much of an impression on me and I probably wouldn’t order them again. The chili oil wontons were definitely tasty and had that nice spicy and garlicky sauce to accompany it. For the spicy beef noodles, you can choose to have fat or skinny noodles. I recommend getting the fat noodles, which have a perfect consistency and a heartier texture. I personally thought that the soup base was a little weak and could have packed a little more of a punch. I was happy to see that the beef pieces actually had meat and weren’t just full of fat and tendons. Overall, it was a solid meal, the portion sizes were decent and the prices were good.

Shanghai: Brunch at Table No. 1 by Jason Atherton

Table No 1- Brunch

Table No 1- Brunch

I’m always on the hunt for a good brunch in Shanghai. A few months ago, Table No. 1 (1-3 Maojiayuan Lu; 毛家园路1-3号1楼) unveiled a new brunch menu that looked absolutely delectable.

Salmon Eggs Benedict and Raisin Scones

Salmon Eggs Benedict and Raisin Scones

True to their dinner menu, the brunch menu is also very limited. There was a small selection of egg dishes with different variations of eggs benedict or poached eggs on toast. Since I felt like I could make eggs on toast at home, I opted for the Eggs Royale, two eggs poached eggs on an English muffin with smoked salmon. The eggs were cooked perfectly and I liked that the hollandaise sauce was very light with a hint of lemon.

Table No 1- Scones

Table No 1- Scones

My mother really loves scones and I think that passion has been passed on to me. Whenever I see them on the menu, I always feel the need to order them. I was very pleased with the raisin scones at Table No. 1. Too often with scones, they are way too dense and disappointing. These were lighter and not too sweet. Proper British scones should be served with clotted cream (not butter) and these scones came with a lovely jar of clotted cream and jam. I was a happy camper.

Blueberry Pancakes with Poached Apricots

Blueberry Pancakes with Poached Apricots

I unintentionally ordered a lot of sweet dishes with the blueberry pancakes and homemade yogurt. The blueberry pancakes weren’t your classic American pancakes. It didn’t have that rich buttermilk taste. Instead of coming with maple syrup, these pancakes came with poached apricots and whipped cream. For an extra 30 kuai, you could top the pancakes with pan seared foie gras. I have had the foie gras at dinner before and I think it would have been the perfect complement to these pancakes. The foie would have added some nice extra fat to the pancakes and given it an interesting sweet and savory combination.

Table No 1- Yogurt

Table No 1- Yogurt

I really enjoy homemade yogurt and do like it sour. Table No. 1’s version was just a little too sour for me. While there’s some fruit topped on it, I felt like it needed just a bit more honey to help sweeten it up a bit.

Overall, brunch was pleasant, but it’s not my top recommendation in Shanghai. Table No. 1 is also a little far since it’s out by the Cool Docks. I don’t know if I would make a special trip to go there again. However, if you’re looking for a solid brunch and are in the neighborhood, Table No. 1 is a good option for you.