Tuesday, May 1, 2018

New Shanghainese Restaurant

Recently I was at a new restaurant called 10 Shanghai at Lee Gardens for my 3rd Shanghainese meal in a week over lunch. There’s been a few restaurant openings in this Causeway Bay neighborhood recently thanks to the series of renovation and new constructions and here’s one specializing in Shanghainese/Huaiyang cuisine, taking up the space on the ground floor of Lee Gardens Two shopping mall/office complex.

The interior resembles other high-end Shanghainese restaurant in town, trying to replicate that grandeur feel of the old Shanghai with dimmed lighting, beautiful flower arrangements and elegant table settings, and the booths and round tables in the main dining area are perfect to cater for different situations, whether you want some more privacy or comfort in sharing food and catching up over a large group. Good Chinese restaurants were somewhat a rarity in this area so the place was fairly packed during lunch hours when the office people flocked to find places to eat.

This afternoon we started with a few cold appetizers. Both the chicken and pork tripes were their signature dishes, with the chicken pieces brined with aged Shaoxing Yellow Wine (女兒紅) for the distinctive strong flavors, while I loved the tripes - marinated with rice wine lees - for the chewy texture. The smoked soft-boiled eggs were similar to the ones I am used to, but this version has a richer smoky flavor, presented in a glass dome filled with tea smoke for the theatrical effect at our table, and on top was some black truffle “pearl” to add on the taste. The crispy eel came with a gentle brush of honey glaze on top and of the right sweetness, and the crunchy cucumber showed excellent knife skills of the chef with the cucumber was cut into paper-thin slices and pickled for the crunchy texture and the slight acidity.

We had a few pork dishes as our “main course”. The “Pork Pagoda” was probably the most photogenic, with the finely-sliced braised pork belly wrapped like a pagoda tower and presented with brown gravy and the marinated cabbage at the bottom. We also have another braised pork dish, this time with a leaner cut and served with chunks of cuttlefish – most of us actually prefer this one over the pagoda for a more balanced taste. Our friend Y specifically requested the braised pork intestines as this is a dish that was labor-intensive to prepare. I am not usually a fan of intestines but I did like the texture of this one.

The Xiaolongbao appeared in the middle of our meal rather than towards the end as it’s normally done, but that mishap in serving order was quickly forgiven as those little pork buns were delicious. They were slightly different than the traditional one which was steamed in a basket and served, but rather it’s steamed than pan-fried on a sizzling plate so the bottom was crispy – think of this as a crossover with pot-sticker or guo tie.

I asked for a spring bamboo shoot dish as I had the same recently elsewhere and I was curious how they compared, plus I knew the ingredient is still pretty much in season. The bamboo shoots were cut into thicker chunk and stir-fried with a thick soy-based gravy sauce. It’s milder in flavor, though some of the bamboo shoot chunks were a bit tough and woody – probably need to take off a couple more layers from the stalk and keep only the softer bits.

I felt the crucian carp and turnip soup was best as antidote to the summer heat, with the whole fish pan-fried than made into a soup along with the julienned turnips and coriander. It was light and refreshing for those who enjoys fish broth.

Their dessert menu features some traditional choices and then a few contemporary ones. The soufflé-like meringue puff was a twist to the traditional northern Chinese dessert called Gao Li Dou Sha (高力豆沙) except this version has a filling of taro-flavored icecream mochi rather than the original banana and red bean paste. I probably enjoyed the original version more (they got that on the menu too) but sometimes it’s good for a change I suppose. I am surprised to see Grand Marnier Souffle appeared on the menu of a Shanghainese restaurant, but this one is served with osmanthus syrup commonly used in Shanghainese cuisine – it was fluffy with a mild flavor and lots of floral aroma.

There are more things I would love to try – at a glance of the menu they also served a good selection of Shanghainese dimsums – and I never grew tired of Shanghainese food, so will definitely come back later at some point to check them out.

(The meal was by invitation)

When? April 13 2018
Where? 10 Shanghai, Shop 101, Lee Garden Two, 28 Yun Ping Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Signature Steamed Xiao Long Bao
Web: www.10-shanghai.com

No comments :