Friday, November 16, 2007

Splashing Out at Blu Lobster



With a milestone birthday coming up and a colleague leaving, I thought it was apt to celebrate in style.

I'd read some rave reviews about Blu Lobster at the Shangri-La and had to try it.

And it definitely was a meal to remember.

The restaurant is on the ground floor, but for a Friday night it was quiet. Once you walk in, the stunning cascade of hanging glass pieces lit by blue and yellow lights is impressive.

We sat pretty much in the middle of the restaurant with a dining table inside the wine cellar and private room off to the side.

Once we sat down, we were offered Veuve Cliquot Champagne to start.

The six-course tasting menu (700 RMB or US$94.30) is definitely worth trying. And once we ordered, the culinary journey began.

It started with an amuse bouche trio of watermelon gazpacho in a test tube, with hints of garlic and onion; a cracker with a sculpted dollop of foie gras topped with chopped nuts; and raw oyster with a passion fruit mousse.

We were also served a basket of bread - white, wheat and spice bread, which was dark brown. The bread could be dipped in olive oil, rock salt, an aubergine paste in olive oil, and a pumpkin spread. The spice bread was on the crumbly side, and had a subtle spiced flavour.

Our first course was a salad that the server explained was made with 42 ingredients. I don't know what all of them were, but it definitely included mixed greens, edible flowers, cubes of aspic, watermelon, tomato, and beet. The salad also had an egg that was poached perfectly -- just slightly runny.

The next course spiced things up with a lobster risotto with fresh chilli, a spoonful of avocado ice cream and coconut bubbles. Really! We had to mix the frothy white and light sauce with everything in the bowl. There was also a piece of lobster tempura. For me, the risotto was on the spicy side, and our server should have asked us if we had any dietary concerns. Nevertheless it was still an intriguing combination.

This followed with a plate that consisted of a slab of fresh foie gras, braised eel and three thin slices of toast. It was a strange mix and we ended up eating the eel separately from the foie gras.

We were now half way through our meal, and to cleanse our palates, we were served martini glasses filled with star anise rum jelly cubes with dried and iced pineapple covered in coconut milk. The small rum cubes were delicious and the dried pineapple was a wonderful contrast to the smooth jelly and coconut milk.

New Zealand lamb was next and unfortunately was slightly overcooked. But the meat was tender and filling, along with the ravioli -- more like a pastry, filled with spinach and a Spanish egg yolk.

And if that wasn't enough to fill you up, two desserts followed. The first was visually stimulating. The server filled a glass of dry ice with coconut milk (there's a theme here), which bubbled over onto a dollop of white pepper ice cream and a frozen square of ripe mango covered in pastry. The pepper ice cream was delicious, not sweet and a toned down pepper flavour.

The other dessert was a playful finish that literally burst in your mouth. A small slab of chocolate mousse made with a coffee blend was accompanied by shavings of chocolate and frizzy candy. When you put the candy in your mouth it was literally tingling inside and made fizzy noises. So not only was there a play on textures, the smooth chocolate mousse and the crunchy candy, but also sound too. It made us feel like kids again, eating candy we'd just bought from the grocery store.

The staff also prepared a birthday cake for me and came over to sing Happy Birthday in Chinese.

And time flew by -- our dinner was three and a half hours long, but it didn't feel like it at all. The amazing food, engaging conversation and sophisticated atmosphere were the perfect ingredients for a memorable meal.

Blu Lobster
Shangri-La
29 Zizhuyuan Road
Beijing
6841 2211

1 comment:

ks said...

i remember it was reported that the monthly salary of chairman deng xiao -ping a couple of decades ago was $600. this meal is surely quite memorable, it makes my mouth water. any back ground music in the restaurant? any walk around singers to serenade you?