Tuesday, February 12, 2008
An area in Shanghai popular with tourists and mostly the expat crowd is Xintiandi.
Located south of Huangpi South Road, it's part of the French Concession, where old European buildings were renovated to house modern and sleek restaurants and shops.
I first saw the development almost completed in 2001 and now it's extended another block and has a boutique hotel attached to it.
Beijing has nothing like it which makes me wish there was something like that in the capital.
Hong Kong developer Shui On put money and care into the project and the results are evident with the numbers of people who go through the area everyday.
There's everything from Starbucks to Hong Kong Italian restaurants Va Bene and Ye Shanghai; there's also boutiques selling tastefully chosen antiques and souvenirs.
And one of the restaurants there is very elegant, but for some reason always has more staff than diners.
It's called SOAHC, but I don't know what those letters stand for. Perhaps it should be called Dragonfly since the insect is used in the logo.
Inside it's like walking into an early 20th century European parlour, with dark wood antique chairs covered with fabric cushions, lavish place settings are different colours, thick drapes and western oil paintings on the walls.
This setting probably makes it difficult for Chinese people to understand or appreciate this fine dining restaurant.
The menu features Shanghainese food and it's very delicately presented.
For appetizers, we had pork cubes and minced spinach that was wrapped in bean curd skin and then sliced into bite-sized rolls.
Then we each had a bowl of soup featuring finely sliced tofu like pieces of thread. The thick soup also had strands of vegetable and it came piping hot and delicious.
We also had sliced pepper beef cooked in a lotus leaf that was very flavourful and a touch spicy, stir-fried morning glory vegetables and braised yellow fish in a thick sauce with giant cloves of garlic.
To finish the dinner, we had ground walnut pudding which had a roasted taste, and flour rice balls in a sweet soup of rice wine and osmanthus.
Throughout our meal, a singer sang mostly Teresa Teng songs accompanied by a pianist on a baby grand.
She sang very well, but only got applause from us -- the only diners in the entire restaurant.
123 Xing Ye Road
(86 21) 6385 7777