Date of Visit: August 24 2013
On the occasion of mom’s birthday, we went to Yé Shanghai, a 2 Michelin Stars establishment located on level 6 of Marco Polo Hotel, TST for a Shanghainese lunch. There are 3 hotels along the Canton Road all within the same complex (Harbour City and Ocean Terminal – and these are the only shopping mall you need to know/ visit in Hong Kong if you are short of time).
Upon entry to the restaurant, there is a very nice bar area dressed in eclectically moody dark timber, it was rather chic, no doubt making an ideal place for pre-dinner drinks. I would love to take out my camera to start taking pictures to show my readers, but since the restaurant was starting to get busy, I did not fancy to make a nuisance of myself.
We were seated at the main dining area at round tables instead of the timber-framed booth seatings. With french-windows on one side of the restaurant we got plenty of natural lights and views looking out to Hullet House (one have to look beyond the balcony area).
Once seated, the waiter gave me a baby stool for my handbag! This is what I call Michelin service!
Condiments on our table
In Chinese restaurants there are usually condiments ready on the table which are added on to the bill. They are also available in bottles for sale at the door.
XO Chilli Sauce: Lots of baby shrimps and very spicy. There is no stopping me digging spoonfuls out of the container to pick at the tiny shrimps one-by-one
Dried turnip: Spicy and sweet. Love the crunchiness of the turnips dressed in fragrant sesame oil
There is a dim sum menu but we decided to rise to the occasion by ordering our favourites from the proper lunch menu.
We started with Typical Shanghainese Cold Appetisers.
Tea Leaf Smoked Flavoured Eggs: Most delicious. The orangey yolks were perfectly custardy surrounded by sweet smoky egg whites. We tend to order these every time we see them on the menu.
Huadiao Wine Marinated ‘Drunken’ Chicken. Another customary dish for us. The tender chicken came intact with skin and fat. The fat literally melted away when I chewed on the chicken. The wine was very strong and fragrant, it was too delicious to leave it alone… I drank by the spoonful!
Shredded Jelly fish with Cucumber: Crunchy and charred, the jelly fish was dressed in sesame oil. The cucumber was refreshing and for those needing a spicy kick, there is a badass mustard sauce for you to dunk your jelly fish in!
The Mains that we ordered…
Deep-fried Sweet and Sour Yellowfish with Pine Nuts: It was already deboned when it came to our table. While I liked the deep-fried fish very much – dense meaty fish yet not oily – I did not care for the thick tomato gravy at all because they were overly sweet and starchy. I don’t need extra carbs.
My tale of the ‘fishy Yellowfish’:
Yellow-fish or Croaker is very scarce nowadays and reminds me of the trip to Putuo Shan (a sacred mountain near Ningbo, China) that I took with Mom and her BFFs nearly 10 years ago. While my aunts were checking out the fish to order for lunch, one of them pointed at a fish in a plastic basin to enquire the whether it is a yellowfish and the market price – immediately – the fish-monger grabbed the fish and knocked it out! WHACK with the butt of a chopper! KAPOW! 7-0-0- Ren-Min-Bi! Gone and poof! The most expensive fish we have ever eaten and up to this day, we still laugh about it whenever we order Yellowfish. Moral of the story? Never point, keep finger to self! Another gaff was that yellowfish is never caught alive, they die as soon as they are out of the water -duh!
If you are interested to visit Putuo Shan, here’s a link, but mind you EVERYTHING there is newly built! The Red Guards had destroyed all the statues during the Cultural Revolution. The Chinese were in a hurry to get the UNESCO cultural heritage grant when they started rebuilding the site- however, I don’t think it was approved because it was more of a theme park with ghastly golden statues without originality about it, thus did not comply with ICOMOS guide lines.
Back to food…
Braised Shanghai Cabbage with Beancurd Sheets: Simple dish of wholesome goodness. Fresh baby bakchoy in chicken essence.
Pork Belly with Steamed Bun. Now this is a ‘deconstructed’ pork belly bun which easily beats Momofuku’s and Ippudo‘s famous pork belly buns hands down! A cute steamed white bun perching on the sweet, gingery pork belly which was warpped by a piece of pandanus leaf. The tender pork belly literally melted in my mouth. I used the white bun to mop up the delicious soy sauce.
Noodles with spring onions and soy: Since it’s Mom’s birthday, we ordered a Shanghainese street food, the simple noodles cooked in soy sauce with baby river shrimps and the ‘prized’ spring onions. The springy noodles were delectable. The soy sauce left a sweet lingering aftertaste.
Typically Chinese desserts consist of boring sweet bean soups, puddings or to make things a little more interesting, deep-fried egg whites or bananas fritters! However, I must say that I am very impressed with Yé Shanghai’s Western fusion.
Tofu pudding with basil seeds, mango and nato de coco and pomelo: A very ordinary looking pudding with pomelo on top corrugating in a sea of mango sauce, dotted with translucent nato de coco. Lo-behold, a surprise awaits when we dug in, it was filled with basil seeds and mango! This was a yummy dessert with the clean refreshing tofu taste.
Black Sesame Crème Brûlée with Roasted Peanut Butter Ice Cream: Not pretty to look at, but surprisingly tasty. The addition of grinded black sesame made the brûlée grainy, but gave a strong nuttiness and sesame aroma, pairing black well with the salty roasted peanut butter ice-cream. A modern Chinese-take on the French classic.
Ginger Panna Cotta: A very simple Chinese ginger pud with bits of ginger in it. Personally, I think the strawberries and mango sauce are more for presentation.
The waiter knowing that we are Shanghainese, recommended that we buy a box of their home-made Black Dates and Walnut Mooncakes ( $160 per box of 6). We regretted that we only bought 2 boxes because it was really well-made with smooth black dates paste, which is very rare nowadays. It take s a lot of work to get a smooth paste. Moreover, this is an acquired taste for non-Shanghainese since it is ‘tartishly-sour’, slightly bitter with a hint of charcoal.
Finally for our dinner at home which we celebrated again with Gran, Lucy (our helper) prepared Abalone Chicken Soup Longevity Noodles and a hard-boiled egg for each of us.