Monthly Archives: December 2012

Azul Tapas Lounge, Shanghai

Less than two years ago, during my first stay in Shanghai, (Oh Lord, time is flying so fast) Azul was rated one of the best brunch deal in Shanghai and I have to say that while the food was quite good (especially the burgers) the place was not.

Since Azul was “re-pimped” and treated itself with a brand new venue on the posh & trendy Ferguson lane alongside Franck Restaurant & Co, I decided to give it a second try.

First, the venue is beyond comparison with the old one. While the previous one, was a tiny place sharing more features with a corridor than with a real restaurant, the new one boasts a luminous and spacious dining room with an amazing terrace (which I did not try, because of the temperature which approximates -1000 degrees at the moment).

Azul is supposedly a latin/peruvian/spanish tapas – restaurant so I was quite surprised to find some Maghreb/ Moroccan style dishes such as couscous or chicken Tajine. Still a bit confused.

The brunch menu (saturday and sunday) gets you one starter, one main and one beverage (smoothie,  fresh juices, etc…) for 138RMB; a real good deal.

We started with the Salmon crepes and the Banana Pancakes and moved on with the Spanish Omelet and the Curry chicken, all quite tasty. Special mention to the omelet which was one of the most original I have ever tasted, yet delicious and a good saturday hangover cure. “Adventurous” foodie  friends give it a try!
As a drink I wanted to order a smoothie but for some reasons, they were not able to provide one and finally ordered a freshly squeezed  juice.
I am a bit bewildered by how it can become quite challenging to order either a smoothie or a juice. (cf Larder post)

Regarding the dessert part, I have to say that we were quite disappointed by what was offered and decided to stop our Azul experience there. [I have to confide : Having noticed the mouth-watering Farine bakery {Post to come soon} downstairs also pressed our choice not to order dessert at Azul and to keep some space to try their delicious french delicacies]

Altogether I would say that Brunch at Azul is a great experience. The food is tasty, the place is bright and relaxing and not ruining anything, it is good-value. I would definitely go back to Azul, maybe in order to try the terrace and their dinner menu.

IMG_4693 IMG_4694  Banana pancakesIMG_4695 Salmon CrepesIMG_4696  The Spanish OmeletIMG_4697 Curry ChickenIMG_4698 IMG_4699

Ferguson Lane
8/F, 378 Wukang Lu, near Hunan Lu
武康路378号8楼, 近湖南路

Tel: 5405 2252
http://www.azultapaslounge.cn

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Shanghai Biennale/Reactivation & Tea time at the Peace Hotel, Shanghai, China

On sunday, after an astonishing and delicious brunch at Puli’s Jing’an restaurant (see post below), I decided to attend some cultural activities and headed to Shanghai’s Biennale at the Power Station of Art.

Stretched on six floors, the art exhibition displays nothing and everything; art sculptures, movies, paintings or performances from home and abroad. It took us almost two hours to get around the whole area at a quite normal pace. We are no art experts and were mostly wandering and looking around. The biggest part of the exhibition is free but for the last floor exhibition, “Electic Fields” you have to pay an entry fee.

Even if it cannot yet compete with NYC or Paris exhibitions, it is quite impressive to see such a display of art in China, especially for free. Great way to spend a sunday afternoon.
One remark though : The captions are really small and way too long, so prepare some magnifying glasses and to fight with people sticked to the captions if you want to read them all.

It is on until end of March.

 Lane 20, Huayuangang Lu, Near Miaojiang Lu, Huangpu district
黄浦区花园港路20弄, 近苗江路

Tired of strolling around, we went to the Peace Hotel for a well-deserved tea break. Still stuffed from the Brunch, we just had tea and no high tea, despite the fact that it was looking mighty good.
Savoring my Ginger Springer cup of tea in such a soothing atmosphere was everything we needed. The place is set in the golden era of Shanghai and the waitresses are wearing typical qipaos. You really do feel relaxed and lost in time.

One and only remark : For this kind of high-end hotel, one will expect every single detail to be perfect. Well, the hand towels in paper in the majestic bathrooms were a big miss.

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Peace Hotel Shanghai
Nanjing East Road 20, Zhongshan East one Road
上海市黄浦区南京东路20号,中山东一路

 

Shintori, Shanghai, China

Japanese anyone?

Well, Shintori is supposed to be one of the best in town (if not THE best) so no other reason needed to investigate.

The entry itself tells everything. With bamboo trees and white stones alleys, your expectations are already booming.

The restaurant is set on two floors in an old factory, and they kept the design simple and bare. There is an open kitchen where you can freely admire how they prepare their sushi rolls. They carry the dishes for the second floor-guests throughout a “lift”. The subdued lishts, building an intimate and trendy atmosphere, were a bit bothersome to read the menu and to see what we were eating.
The menu is really extensive which can prove difficult when choosing what to order even if you are not usually hesitant.

Overall I would say it is a great restaurant, which you will clearly enjoy around good dishes and one (or two) bottles of wine. State that is the best of Shanghai might be a bit overrated though…

One last thing, two things actually.
The kitchen staff yelled some mysterious greetings when customers get in AND out, which can show to be a bit scary. Heard it is a Japanese custom.
Second, we were a bit confused by the toilets signs, which results in getting in the wrong gender booth… twice… So if anyone has some clues about what are those signs, please shed some lights!

E.

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Brunch @ The Jing’An Puli, Shanghai, China

As everyone knows, sunday is holy day, in Shanghai it is Brunch Day. You can definitely observe that by browsing all the brunch offered  all over town.
Westin is a long time favorite and supposed to be one of the best in town. From now on,  I would give my vote for the Puli though. Without any comparison.

The Jing’An restaurant is located in the japanese-style and zen-vibes Puli Hotel. Boasting wooden furnitures and water fountains, the decor is to die for and this is indubitably the kind of place you are looking for to spend your sunday.

The restaurant is peaceful and quite, you do not even feel that there are other customers around. This is a big advantage compared to some other brunch restaurants with way too loud singers, kinky performers and 1000 people.

For 398RMB + 10%service fee, you get two A LA CARTE main dishes and one dessert  [either brunch type dishes such as Egg Benedict, Omelet or Risotto, Burgers…] AND the whole buffet. It is a total food debauchery and it is hard to refrain to eat everything and keep some spaces for the rest of the brunch.
I chose the egg Benedict with salmon and the Risotto as main dishes.

The service is also stunning and really discreet.

Althogether, Brunch at the Jing’An was a total success and I will make sure to go back, but next time I will head to the Spa right after in order to relax from a way too tiring brunch. Oh, life is hard!

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1 Changde Lu, near Yan’An Lu
上海市静安区常德路1号,延安路
+86 21 3203 9999

Fu 1039, Shanghai, China

Looking for a chinese restaurant to take some out-of-town family, I was always browsing the same results ; Din Tai Fung, South Beauty or Lost Heaven. Don’t misunderstand me here, I like those three places but I was looking for something more; a nice place yet with a real Chinese vibe and tasty traditional Shanghainese food.

Then I found Fu 1039.

First, the venue. Located in a small alley in the french concession, you enter in an magnificent old house right from Shanghai golden colonial era with a pianist entertaining guests with delicate music.
The interior setting is nice and kept simple (which might be for the best).

The service is also really good by all standards, friendly and professional. They also can speak english and provide good recommendations, which is quite helpful when seeing all the dishes they have. (And NO pictures friends!)

Now the food. Well, I don’t want to sound too ecstatic, but God that was good. It is typical shanghainese food.  The sweet and sour chicken, the beef, the xiaolongbao (Shanghai dumplings) the pork and the veggies were all super tasty and yummy.
But my biggest hit were the shrimps, HANDS DOWN. Might be the best I ever had… in my life…I have never tasted such a thing here in China because I am quite positive about the fact that the sauce was made of mustard, and since when do they use this in Chinese cuisine?

Even though we were stuffed, we were dying to try the desserts, the sago and the peanut ice cream, and they were not deceiving. Here was another surprise. As everyone knows, chinese food is not really highly recognized for its desserts (from a european point of view I mean).
On top of all, they have a quite long selection of wines, local and from abroad.

Totally recommending this place, without any hesitation, and trust me on this one : Order the shrimps!

ImagebeefImageImageImageThe clay porkImageSweet and sour chickenImage“mustard” shrimpsImageImage

1039 Yuyuan Lu, near Jiangsu Lu / 愚园路1039号, 近江苏路
+86 21 5237 1878

8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Shanghai, China

Umberto Bombana, the “White Truffle King” is the chef to thank for this terrifying italian restaurant. After Hong-Kong’s 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo (a Fellini movie’s name) – a three Michelin stars, the Chef decided to open its twin restaurant here in Shanghai, in the new high-end Rockbund complex (right across the Peninsula Hotel).

First we headed to the bar, which quickly gives you the impression of entering a secret and well-hidden place. There is no cocktails list so the bartender basically will be keen to concoct you a customized cocktail.

The atmosphere is cosy and intimate, there is no noise; almost having the impression of being the only one savoring the food, making you lose track of time and stay late… (or maybe you just never want to leave this place and wait so you can order more dishes)

Now let’s be serious and talk about the food, which is almost impossible to do with words. You will have to try if you want to understand. The food is exquisite from the starters to the desserts, could not have enough. And on top of all, it was the Truffle weekend for my greatest pleasure. So U. Bombana, himself, came to prepare the truffle dish.
As for the dessert, the Millefeuille was one of the most delicate and delicious I have ever tasted.

All in all, it was a total feast and my mouth is already watering by the simple thought of going there again…Please take me back!

ImageImageImageImageSalmon appetizerImageImageImageImageJamon IbericoImageTruffle RaviolisImageSalmon and vegetablesImageImageImageImageSweet tooth much?ImageTHE Millefeuille

6-7/F, 169 Yuanminguan lu, near Beijing Lu 上海市黄浦区圆明园路协进大楼

Tel : 021-60872890

Mercato, Shanghai, China

A newcomer at the ever-buzzing Three On The Bund Mercato is an italian restaurant owned by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who also owns Nougatine and Jean-Georges on the 4th floor of the same building.

The restaurant is built as a big open space, which aim is to give a farm / countryside atmosphere. There is a pizza bar where you can seat and appreciate pizzaïolos performances, preparing their exquisite pizzas or you can go for more intimacy, with private tables and a stunning view on the Bund and the Lujiazui skyscrapers.

The restaurant was designed by Neri & Hu, whom also did Table N1 and Capo (Mercato’s competitor? ). The result is a cosy and modern atmosphere.

The downside of large spaces’ conviviality is the noise, it is quite loud; making it a bit inconvenient to talk. Maybe it is a trick so you shut up, eat and savor the food. Smarty pants they are!

Talking about the food, you will enjoy it for sure, especially if you are one of those expats craving for some European food that is tasty and not only overpriced but it won’t blow your mind though.

We were also quite lost regarding the Menu, not really understanding the differences between Crudo, Appetizers and the Entrees. So just a hint : the Entrees are actually the main courses ( yes, if you speak French you will understand my confusion here).

One last advice : if you decide to go for the beef ribs and you are hungry (and I don’t mean starving, like you haven’t had real piece of meat for months, just regular hungry), don’t share it (it is supposed to be a serving for two) as it is quite small.

Overall, this is a good bet for italian food at a decent price (especially for a restaurant on the Bund in this high-end foodie building that is Three On the Bund) in a really nice setting. You won’t be deceived but the best Italian is yet to come (on my next post!)

Highly recommending the Crusted Eggplant Parmesan and the desserts. Sweet Tooth there you go!

E.

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IMG_4538 Bread & ChilliIMG_4539 IMG_4541 Tuna saladIMG_4542 Seafood SaladIMG_4545  Beef ribs and PolentaIMG_4547   Crusted Eggplants ParmesanIMG_4548

Mercato at Three On the Bund, 6th Floor, Guangdong Lu 17, Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu

外滩三号6楼, 广东路17号,近中山东一路

Le Saleya, Shanghai, China

Craving for some french food and a nice “brasserie” atmosphere, I headed to Le Saleya with some friends.
I went there almost two years ago and was satisfied with the experience, so I decided to give it a second try.

First I was disappointed to find out that their dinner deal (starter & Main / Main & Dessert) for less than 200 RMB had disappeared.

Second, I was really surprised when the waiter just left the bottle of wine on the table and did not pour the wine on our glasses. Except for the “wine pouring issue”, the atmosphere was nice and cosy, and yes really French also; which you will define good or not, according to your tastes.

The food was tasty and the Chocolate Fondant definitely fueled my sweet tooth… for one night…

E.

Image Tartare and mashed potatoesImagePumpkin SoupImageDuck BreastImageImageProfiterollesImageChocolate Fondant

Le Saleya, 570 Changle Road, Xiangyang Road, Shanghai  Phone Number : 54036957

上海市静安区长乐路长乐路570弄1-1

Sweet tooth in Taipei

Taipei is a foodie paradise. I rapidly got obsessed by the night markets, endless alleys of stalls displaying exquisite food. I was not brave enough to try the infamous stinky tofu or the grilled earthworm though.

My favorite discovery? Definitely the curry dumplings, a real must-try. And I am BIG on dumplings and tried thousands different kinds. Those are to die for,

On top of all the delicious food I sampled, I headed to JiaoShi 尖石 to experience the Hot Springs, a traditional health and beauty ritual; where you pamper yourself, first by burning bathing in a 42 degrees water followed by a mind-numbing 0 degree bath, and YES you do feel good afterwards.

Also ranking high in my list, the Taipei Huashan 1914 Creative Park 華山1914文創園區 and The Red House Theater 萬華區, where you can have a taste of the innovative and young vibe that characterizes Taipei.

Except the terrible weather (it was pouring rain non-stop), Taipei is a vibrant city inhabited by kind-hearted people and a pleasant place to live. Next destination to call “home” for a while? Who knows, but with the curry dumplings and the freshly-squeezed fruit juices I could see myself there.

E.

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