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The Brunch List: April '15

We've got pleb food turned fancy at 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo, meat sweats at the Kerry, binge-eating Peruvian at Chala and cartoon dim sum at Super Star Seafood.
Apr 1, 2015 | 08:13 Wed

8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana

Good for: Homestyle Italian, classed-up

8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana is an unmistakably fancy spot, but it's currently doing a rotating "Regional Italian Brunch" that's, well, not so fancy. The idea is this: every four to six weeks, 8 1/2's Sunday brunch menu will feature some of the most widely-loved dishes of a specific region's cuisine, such as those of Piedmont, Sicily and Tuscany. The most widely-loved dishes throughout Italy, of course, are homestyle, hearty and markedly lacking in expensive ingredients. So why on God's earth would anyone spend 458rmb on a meal that mama can make? Maybe because mama doesn't live in Shanghai. Or pay rent on the Bund.

Anyway, 8 1/2 does, admittedly, use noticeably high quality ingredients for their classed-up versions of these traditional dishes. Take, for instance, the current menu, which is based on the deliciously fatty, meaty, buttery food of Lombardy. 8 1/2's take includes tender eel cooked sous vide glazed in balsamico and wrapped around blanched spring vegetables, house-cured duck breast prosciutto and a side of sciat, or traditional cheese fritters using grano saraceno, a buckwheat flour. Lombardy is perhaps best known for its freshly made, stuffed pastas, however, and 8 1/2's pumpkin and mascarpone cappellacci (typical of Mantova city) pan-fried in butter, sage and topped with parmesan, is beautifully done — al dente, airy, deeply savory and silky. The chef at 8 1/2 says that it takes 42 yolks per kilo of flour to get the pasta sheets just right.

Purists of authentic Italian food (read: all Italians) may balk at the kitchen's twist on certain classics, though those who might not otherwise get to try these homestyle dishes that receive little to no representation elsewhere in Shanghai may appreciate that 8 1/2 does them at all. It'll cost you a pretty penny, though — 458rmb plus a 10% service charge, for four courses and a cup of coffee or tea.

Sunday: 11.30am-2.30pm
For a full brunch listing, click here.


Good for: Cold brews and the meat sweats

Brunch at Kerry Hotel steakhouse The Meat is a big draw for families and the otherwise carnivorously inclined. It's a semi-buffet. This means you order a main from a menu of hearty eats like a hazelnut-crusted rack of lamb, barbecue pork ribs, or even an Aussie Wagyu sirloin steak. For the faint of heart, they also offer angel hair pasta with vegetables. But really? You're going to order that? In a steakhouse?

While you wait for your main, you graze among their spread of starters. You've got choices like lobster bisque, raw oysters on the half shell, foie gras terrines, sushi rolls and salads. Yes, it's all-you-can-eat. No, that doesn't mean you should eat all you can. Main course portions are quite huge, and they come with a choice of side, and servers push a trolley about the dining room, periodically carving up juicy, medium rare slices of their signature dry-aged Tomahawk steak, a bone-in Aussie rib-eye weighing in at one kilo. To drink, they've got a D.I.Y. bloody Mary station, unlimited pours on red and white wine, and free flow draft beer from The BREW, Kerry's on-premise craft brewery. Once you've cleaned your plate — or better yet, if you've cleaned your plate — you can go back to the buffet for dessert.

It's also great for those with kids in tow. The staff are remarkably patient with restless kids. They entertain them with balloon animal artist, and they're even permitted to burn off some calories in the Kerry Hotel's "Adventure Zone," an indoor playground with all kinds of crazy stuff to climb on, jump off of, and slide down. Brunch is 350rmb+15% per adult. Kids under 12 eat for 128rmb+15%.

Sun: 11.30am–3pm
For a full brunch listing click here.


Good for: Peruvian eats in the sun

Peruvian restaurant Chala came out with a new brunch menu last month, and it looks like they're out to woo all varieties of diners with an expanded weekend menu offering. Into "ethnic food"? Seafood paella or roasted chicken cilantro rice for you. A little bit vanilla? "Norwegian Eggs Benedict" or grilled lamb rack with potatoes for you. American? Beef sandwich for you.

Jokes aside, when you consider the price, level of quality, and location, Chala actually has one of the best brunch deals in town at the moment. There are three sections of the menu: Starters & Egg Dishes, Sandwiches & Mains, and Desserts. Choose two courses from separate sections at 128rmb, or three courses at 148rmb. This price includes a drink — including sangria, house wine, soda or smoothies — and an additional cup of coffee or tea. The portions are generous, too, so if you order strategically with that three course option, you'd end up with two drinks, two full entrees and a dessert to finish. It's a lot of food, and Chala's kitchen is absolutely on point. Scrambled eggs may sound boring, but the version here is excellent — fluffy yet rich and creamy at the same time, and nicely supplemented with a side of pan-fried chorizo and potatoes. Same for that beef sandwich. It's tender, well-marinated, and topped with sauteed porcini mushrooms, gruyere cheese and avocado slices. If it's your first visit, then you'd do well to try that cilantro chicken rice.

Right now Chala isn't getting as much love as nearby Bistro Burger or Citron, either, so it's a great spot to people-watch and lounge outdoors in plain sight.

Sat & Sun: 9am-4.30pm
For a full brunch listing, click here.

Super Star Seafood

Good for: Decent dim sum, solid service

This Cantonese restaurant in K11 Art Mall has been the darling of many an Instagram feed because of the steamed dumplings that they fashion into cutesy animal shapes. Some are shaped like tiny stonefish and stuffed with stonefish. Some are little Bambi heads stuffed with sweet potatoes. Others are tigers (pictured above) stuffed with shrimp and cabbage. They even play a looped video of the chefs making the edible menagerie. Unfortunately, what you see on the video doesn't quite look like what comes to your table, which is why the dumplings in the picture look like tigers being attacked by spiders. Regardless, it's what's inside that counts, and they do a fair job.

Other dim sum options run a wide gamut, however. Turnip cakes in XO sauce, for instance, come out dripping in grease, and they skimp on the XO. Their signature spring rolls stuffed with shrimp, however, are well worth ordering. They're enormous — like the size of an American egg roll — with a beautifully brittle, crispy skin. If the menu is uneven, Super Star Seafood makes up for its shortcomings with polite and attentive service, and seeing as how they ask for a 10% service charge, they had damn well better. The dim sum dishes range from 12-38rmb, with the bulk of them, like the kawaii dumplings, averaging at 25rmb each.

Sat-Sun: 10.30am-3pm
For a full brunch listing click here.

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