Right now, a handful of restaurants around Shanghai are putting on seasonal white asparagus menus. White asparagus is picked before the sprouts break through the topsoil so they never develop the chlorophyll for photosynthesis that makes plants green.
Apart from being white it also means that the asparagus is sweeter and more tender. The window of time in which you can pick white asparagus is only about two weeks long, making the vegetable prized. It’s an especially big deal in Germany where they even have a name for the time of year – spargelzeit.
Shanghai’s most famous German restaurant chain will be adding white asparagus to their menus at all locations, until the season ends. Don’t forget, it’s a short season so you’ll want to get in there soon. They’ve got white asparagus cream soup to start and sticks of said veggie also appear as a side on dishes of schnitzel Vienna style, cooked ham, and grilled salmon with herb-cream sauce. You can find a list of all their locations here
If you fancy something a little more up-market, Käfer by The Binjiang One has a seasonal menu that lists an asparagus quiche, and salmon with white asparagus for starters. On the mains page, they will have a white asparagus with young potatoes and bearnaise sauce alongside a choice of fresh fish, cooked hams, Vienna schnitzel or beef tenderloin. All this comes with fine-dining service and riverside views of Shanghai’s skyline.
The Chophouse has a reputation for serving farm-to-table fresh ingredients, so even though it isn’t a German restaurant, they’re not going to miss an opportunity to prepare some highly seasonal veg. Their menu focusses more on the arrival of spring and includes things like a green asparagus velouté, purple asparagus ‘mouclade’ (muscles), and a dish of grilled white asparagus over scallops. The dishes start from 98rmb.
Jing’an’s more neighborhoody option for spargelzeit is Zeitgeist. They’ve got a menu of traditional German dinner specials that include white asparagus with ham and butter potatoes (128rmb), white asparagus ‘baden-baden’ herb pancakes with ham, roast potatoes and hollandaise sauce (138rmb). Alternatively, you can get the usual schnitzels, grilled salmon, roasted chicken breast, tenderloin steaks, or tiger prawns with a side of the weißer spargel (white asparagus) for between 138-200rmb. They’ll also have a promotion on German and Austrian wines.
You can eat asparagus 30 floors up with what’s got to be one of the most mind-bending views of the Bund at VUE. They’ve got a four-course menu built around the seasonal vegetable. It includes an appetizer of chargrilled white asparagus with crispy quail egg, Iberian ham and affilia cress, a white asparagus soup, and a dessert (no asparagus in that). 300g of white asparagus is also served on the entrée where you’ll have a choice cured cooked ham, grilled or graved salmon, or the classic German weiner schnitzel. It will set you back 682rmb (without drinks) if you opt for every course. That view though…
Fusion bistro seul&SEUL haven’t taken the whole spargelzeit thing as seriously as everyone else on this list but they have just launched a new spring set menu that includes White Asparagus Soup with Iberian Ham Mint. Other notable dishes in the set are Foie Gras Passion Fruit Hazelnut, French Oyster Apple Vinegar Fennel, Sous-vide New Zealand Langoustine Roasted Capsicum Caviar, Australian M5 Wagyu Beef Sirloin and more. The 598rmb set will be available all season alongside their menu of expertly crafted cocktails.
Abbey Road are putting on a seasonal asparagus menu to mark the arrival of spring. There is a white asparagus soup (48rmb) and mains of white asparagus with prosciutto, whole baby potatoes and German green sauce (128rmb), or grilled chicken with their original tomato-mango salsa served with green asparagus (88rmb). Should you be feeling extra hungry that day the grilled beef escalope with mushroom-bacon sauce and tender white asparagus with fried new potatoes (198rmb) might be for you. They’ve got plenty of patio space so you might even be able to enjoy the arrival of springtime with a meal in the sun.
Abbey Road’s sister bar in Changning have thrown their hat in the ring too. They’re doing a similar menu, except instead of the chicken, they’ll be doing an asparagus quiche with a side of green salad. A Salmon Muselina, a dish of grilled salmon on a bed of white asparagus with a garlicy sauce and roasted cherry tomatoes (148rmb) also makes the menu. Of all the palaces on the list Geneva has the most family vibes, so if you’re thinking of introducing the young’uns to the pleasures of asparagus season, this one might be for you.
Mr Willis is a loved culinary destination in the heart of Shanghai’s former French Concession. For spring a salad featuring Chunks of steamed white asparagus, Iberico ham, mulberries, gooey boiled quail eggs, red endive, shallots, and mustard dressing. Call for reservations on 5404 0200.
Aching for some bratwurst, or maybe even a schnitzel? Go check out what Shanghai has to offer on SmartShanghai's German Restaurant Venue Listing.