I have recently returned from a trip to Shanghai which is to me, a culinary mecca. In previous visits I have dined at some outstanding restaurants which exemplify the best in Shanghainese cuisine.
The purpose of this visit was to sample some of the best of the historical tradition of sophisticated European dining, part of Shanghai’s fascinating heritage from the economic dominance of European commerce in the early 20th century.
The Bund is one of the most well known sights in central Shanghai, an embankment where the modern financial district of Pudong faces the grandeur of art deco buildings across the Huangpu River. These buildings once housed numerous banks and trading houses from western countries.
Today many of these buildings have been transformed into high end dining venues, which showcase some of the best European food in the world.
I was fascinated, visiting these restaurants, by the architectural transformation of large internal commercial spaces into sophisticated industrial chic, designs which reflect the clever and at times transformational food concepts on the menus.
Here is a brief impression of some unique dining experiences on the Bund.
Mr and Mrs Bund
Bund 18, 6/F, 18 Zhongshan
Dong Yi Road, Shanghai 200002
+86 21 6323 9898
A “playful haute French bistro headed by chef Paul Pairet” as described by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants (and ranked Number 43), was my favourite dining experience of this trip. My second visit confirmed my first: innovation meets tradition, sophistication meets funky, culinary artifice meets simplicity of flavours.
The website will give you a much better idea of the food of this establishment than this writer can produce in one short review.
Here is what I ate on Saturday 14 December 2013:
Escalivada – charred-grilled eggplant, capsicum, zucchini and tomatoes
Orange and Orange Tart – candied whole orange, orange sorbet and curd, vanilla chantilly and crumbs
The theatricks of this dish made it the epitome of the dining experience: a simple whole orange on a plate, which, when cut open, reveals layer upon layer of flavour, colour and texture.
The Westin Bund Centre Shanghai
88 Henan Middle Rd, Huangpu, Shanghai, China +86 21 6335 1888
The Sunday Veuve Clicquot Brunch at the Westin Hotel is legendary. I experienced this on Sunday 15 December 2013.
Two floors of sumptuous food encompassing all major cuisines. Ice-cream, chocolate and desserts feature strongly, which was very well received by this writer with a sweet tooth!
And of course the free flowing Veuve Clicquot!
M on the Bund
20 Guangdong Rd, Huangpu, Shanghai, China +86 21 6350 9988
This restaurant has a more intimate feel than other restaurants on the Bund. Its rooftop terrace and low ceilings create a warm and inviting atmosphere. The views from the paned windows and terrace are stunning, day or night.
While I enjoyed the food I found it it a little un-adventurous. Mood won out over food for me.
The highlight of my meal on Monday 16 December 2013 was dessert:
Baked raspberry Bombe – Raspberry-icecream, sponge cake and Italian meringue.
6F, Three on the Bund, No. 3
Zhong Shan Dong Yi Road
Shanghai, 200002 China
+ 86 21 6323 3355
This Italian restaurant from three Michelin star Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is situated on the Bund in close proximity to Mr and Mrs Bund and M on the Bund.
I was very impressed with the raw industrial concept of the architectural design. The dining space feels like an abandoned commercial space has been superimposed with the makings of a restaurant.
Huge concrete pillars, rusting steel frames and a rough hewn wooden floor create a perfect backdrop for the no-nonsense rustic Italian food.
You can see from the photos the beautiful art deco windows overlooking the Bund which somehow do not seem at odds with the exposed industrial structures within the restaurant.
On Tuesday 17 December I ate a simple meal of:
Rigatoni and Meatballs, Smoked Chili-Tomato Ragu – House Made Pasta
Daily Selection of House-Made Gelati or Sorbetti – chocolate, pistachio and vanilla gelato
My dining companion ordered a Dark Chocolate Tart with gelato.
This was my last dining experience on this trip, and it was made even more enjoyable as I had broken my ankle the night before, and determined to go to Mercato, I had made it to the restaurant on a cold and rainy night on crutches!