Originally from the UK, first arrived in China in 1989, worked in Beijing for several years, returned to China in early 1997 to Shanghai, and back again in Shanghai since 2007 have worked on four continents and opened seven hotels in Asia for hotel groups in Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, the Maldives and Malaysia.
Generally, I am not one to dine in Shopping Mall, except perhaps if it was in the USA and about to go to the cinema, then it would be fast food, however Shanghai certainly raises the bar with a number of brand-named restaurants in many of the higher end Shopping Malls, as was the case this past Friday.
W&S Dafu Yakiniku Bistro operates on the 6th floor of the recently renovated Shui On Plaza, renamed as Xintiandi Plaza, the group behind W&S Dafu Yakiniku Bistro certainly remained true to the term of a Bistro serving moderately priced meals in a modest setting with alcohol.
It is said, that Bistros likely developed out of the basement kitchens of Parisian apartments where tenants paid for both room and board. Landlords could supplement their income by opening their kitchen to the paying public.
This top floor venue was packed at 19h45 on Friday evening and pleased that I had made a reservation with my regular dining partner, for there were a number of people waiting for a table in the lobby area.
We were promptly seated, and menus presented for both food and drinks. With an order taken for a bottle of Hawkes Bay Rose, at an affordable price of just 238RMB, along with a draft beer at 58RMB.
The following dishes were ordered
Kimchi Combo – taste was fine, it was kimchi after all, but presentation not as the image portrayed on the glossy menu, the combo was just slopped on a plate so to speak.
Thick cut outside skirt – this is the only dish that you cooked yourself over the embers that were placed in the centre of the table, unsure whether it was my cooking skills or the quality of the beef, but the beef was amazingly tender and flavoursome.
Pork with Miso – this was succulent, not full of fat like the one at Zizzi, that lost their top recently.
Red wine Curry Udon – the noodles just right, enjoyed slurping through this dish.
Eel Kamameshi – great presentation with the Eel placed on top of the rice, which was then brought to life with a stock served from a small tea kettle.
I can normally sense/taste when Ajinomoto or MSG, has been added to food, and as we know somewhat customary to be used in the majority of Asian cooking, I generally tend to drink copious amounts of green tea with an Asian meal that has seen an overuse of either Ajinomoto or MSG, and have to say this was not the case in any of the dishes served at W&S Dafu Yakiniku Bistro.
The service from the waiters was excellent, efficient, smiling and friendly, the damages for two pax came to 593RMB / 296RMB per pax.
Would I return, probably not, having said that can absolutely recommend the venue if one were browsing in the Shopping Mall, a plus side is that you don’t come out smelling that you have been BBQing your dinner either.
Visited the newly opened Red Lobster this past Saturday following an event in Pudong. I've been to other Red Lobster's establishments all of which were in the USA, Roswell in Georgia, Times Square NY and Miami in Florida and they were all pretty much of a muchness in the way the operated and offering of food geared to North American tastes, deep fried food, large portions with lots of doggie bags to go, a concept I have never quite understood.
Red Lobster's recently opened incarnation in Shanghai could be viewed as the best one so far, but then again, it’s operated under a JV partnership with a company that does business in Asia that already knows the ropes somewhat.
The restaurant is tucked away down a corridor next to the Butchers Club, that had a couple of diners in at 17h30 on Saturday, whereas Red Lobster had plenty of families dining, we were seated in no time, offered the menus and away we go.
Started off with some tepid water, so no upselling of fancy waters at Red Lobster ordered two glasses of Santa Mia Sauvignon blanc, great price points and not a bad drop for your average Chilean Sauvignon blanc.
Ordered the following dishes:
Lobster Bisque: Sadly, lacked punch, to my mind just a creamy soup with bits of lobster inside.
New England Clam Chowder: what can be said actually not a bad drop of soup, I have had better and worse, despite the image on the corporate style colourful printed menu having saltines crackers these were not served as a worldwide standard accompaniment.
Golden Calamari: I am glutton for punishment, and on a continual quest for the holy grail of deep-fried calamari, there are only a couple of places in the world that my travels have taken me that I have actually had consistently good calamari, and Red Lobster Shanghai was not one of them, it seemed as if the remnants of the deep fat fryer were shovelled up onto the dish.
Chesapeake Crab Cake: Blue swimming crab cakes, never knew crab cakes could swim, these non-swimming crab cakes lacked depth, not golden enough nor crisp either rather bland in flavour.
New England Roll: Warm, sweet live lobster meat served in a toasted brioche bun, made from live Maine lobsters. The dish was actually decorated with the carcass of a Spiny lobster part of the Palinuridae family, nothing to do with a clawed lobster species that frequent the waters off of Maine.
Overall the food ticked the boxes off the cookie cutter style of menu, however, if this food review were a school report three dishes definitely require work and remedial attention needed.
The service from the waiters that served the food was friendly and efficient even if the dishes were served out of ordering sequence from the initial order that was placed, the corn biscuits (soda bread) were served the same time as the New England Roll, surely, they should have been served with the soup.
The background music was a little too loud for what was supposed to be background music, and certainly the wrong mix of music for the venue and time of the evening.
Damages for the evening for two pax with four glasses of very reasonably priced wines by the glass came to 632RMB in total
Would I return, definitely not, would I recommend I would have to say yes, just to say you have been to a Red Lobster restaurant, even on the Dark Side of the city, and in a basement shopping mall?
I was at a loss where to eat and what to eat this past Lantern festival evening, and being in the neighbourhood of Tai'an Lu, stopped by at Aloe as the lights were on. Aloe is in the old Daga Cafe and Brewpub location on Tai'an Lu, same owners I believe, frankly speaking, they should just have just kept the Brewpub going, for the food sampled on this Lantern festival evening was dreadful. The menu is somewhat limited, as is their range of wines by the glass.
I was the sole diner in the place for the time that I managed to dissect the dishes until I left, I can assure you it certainly felt that I was dissecting the dishes set before me.
When is a Scotch Egg not a Scotch Egg? Well you can order one at Aloe, the meat surrounding the egg was beef and what tasted like overcooked chicken livers ground together with the beef, I was led to believe this was foie gras, the breadcrumbs surrounding this ball of mush were dark and unlike any breadcrumbs I had seen before, this was served upon a puree of carrot, with dots of mint sauce. From the time of placing the order to the time, it arrived at the table was 25 minutes, obviously, the restaurant had not heard of the phrase, here’s one I made earlier or had mise en place to hand.
I must say there was not much else on the menu that took my fancy and chose the daily special of Pork Shank Confit & Teriyaki sauce, which sounded pleasant enough. I have eaten Duck Confit before, but never Pork Shank Confit, Confit comes from the French word confire which means literally "to preserve," a confit being any type of food that is cooked slowly over a long period of time as a method of preservation.
I have eaten traditional Schweinshaxe or Pork knuckle, so expecting somewhat similar without the crisp skin. What I actually received was a full-on shank full of fat, no taste whatsoever, the dish surrounded by a selection of field mushrooms, a sprig of rosemary, dollop of Dijon mustard and some sort of mashed potato, I picked my way through this, and have got to say this is one of the most unappetising dishes that I have eaten in Shanghai in a long time.
I could not finish the dish, and if fact left the majority of it to be taken away, not by me. I paid up and left the restaurant after spending just over an hour and twenty minutes in the place was offered a dessert which I declined, damages for a table of one 344RMB. I don’t know how they have the nerve to concoct or think that the dishes on the menu blend together, the only saving grace was the decent glass of Malbec at 58RMB for a standard pour.
The word Aloe is a noun, a succulent plant with a rosette of thick tapering leaves and bell-shaped or tubular flowers on long stems, native to the Old World…. There was nothing succulent about my dining experience at Aloe, lastly, there is a very large painting which hangs upon a wall, the smell from the painting permeates throughout the restaurant and rather off-putting.
I was talked into dining at a shopping mall again!!! At a venue called Honey on the 4th floor of Raffles City Changning, there were no Bears present nor an actual menu per se, everything was conducted via a QR code, and in Chinese, I was at the mercy of my learned dining partners for the evening.
The style of dining is akin to a hotpot, for those that know me, will know how much I loathe this form of dining, and for so many reasons which I shan’t go into here. Having said that I must confess that this was a whole new experience, one is seated at a table for four, with large looking ceramic font, this Globaltraveller was about to be baptised into another Chinese culinary dining adventure.
The following dishes were ordered.
A whole Catfish (Jiang Tuan fish), chopped up in the usual manner
A couple of skinned plumb Bullfrogs
Prawn, which was rather sad looking, and had seen better days
along with a Tom Yum broth, in which to poach the food, plus a whole range of condiments to mix ones’ personal dip.
There were a number of “Honeys” favourite dishes, (you just can’t make these descriptions up)
Hani fattened beef
Fish Seed bag
Hand beating fresh shrimp slippery
Pastoral vegetables served in a frame aka a tray
We decided to forego the Seven big mushroom eight bacteria selection though.
I slurped my way through the fish and frogs, and delicate Tom Yum broth, then the charming server assisted to mix the Hani fattened beef, which composed of thinly shredded beef, topped off with a raw egg yolk that's then beaten/whipped together, one then stirs this into the font and waits several minutes before the very stringy meat unfurls and ends up being cooked in the broth, seeing how simple this was I followed suit by adding the Fish Seed bag’s, and Hand beating fresh shrimp slippery, and my, the latter were indeed slippery as I lost mine in what was becoming a murky broth, and finally the vegetables were dunked and wilted before us.
Between the three of us, we had five bottles of beer, the damages came to 457RMB in total and overall must say the staff were friendly and very accommodating.
The experience, well different and would recommend just for the experience alone, but in my case, the dunking of food in a communal broth is over for this Spring festival.
The toilet facilities are located down a catacomb of corridors in the mall, and certainly left a lot to be desired, there weren’t many straight shooters using the facilities on a Sunday evening.
I was led to an alleyway by my regular dining partner that separates Panyu Lu and Fahuazhen Lu and entered into what I thought to be a Japanese restaurant, with hostesses wearing masks and dressed in Kimono’s, which I thought to be most bizarre, but hey, I am game for anything these days, this was no regular Shanghai Japanese restaurant for this was Anthologia a world of theatre style dining and when I say theatre, not like anything else I have seen before. Certainly not like the dinner theatre shows one sees in Las Vegas with scantily clad diva’s, or perhaps Studio 54 in New York when Sally Bowles was last seen playing in Cabaret.
Once inside, you are seated in pairs on tired seating facing a large screen, that has a rolling montage of nature scenes of flora and fauna, along with both animals, fish and crustaceans, I was imagining to myself and now for something completely different and half expecting to see a large foot from Monty Python come down. What I was in for, was a seven-course dinner from the land and sea, hence the images rolling on the large screen, along with less than coordinated clips of music ranging from Blues and Jazz, which didn’t quite work with the ebb and flow of the montage.
Before getting on to the food menu, I wanted to order some wine, a list is presented and in typical fashion, the words are uttered méiyŏu for this bottle and that bottle as well….As luck would have it there was another list presented and yes we have this one, and that one as well, we opted for a bottle of Sancerre, and surprisingly not costing an arm and a leg either.
Onto the menu, and the following dishes all elaborately presented
The text alone cannot fully describe the experience of the evening, and hopefully, the attached images will somewhat demonstrate the uniqueness of the venue.
Over the years in Shanghai, I have had dinner at Ultra Violet, Tai An Table and now Anthologia, all at different price points all a little theatrical, but all different, if I were to go back to any of them with a group of people, I would have to say it would be Anthologia hands down. Dinner starts promptly at 19h00, and over by about 21h30 towards the end of the evening for anyone celebrating a birthday or anniversary their names are posted on large screen, and names read out, which I found to be a bit kitsch.
The service was impeccable, really could not fault it, the food was above average for a Japanese style venue, priced at 980RMB per person excluding the wine, which came to 550RMB, there were less expensive French white wines starting from 290RMB.
I live not far from the corner of Wukang Lu and Anfu Lu and have always intrigued when I pass by and see hordes of people queuing up for a table at RAC Bar, once they have a table then they just sit posing for a selfie after selfie, fiddling with their food.
I thought I would take advantage of the Spring Festival break and pass by on the off chance after work and grab a bite to eat, I was in luck, not a gimbal to be seen on a Saturday evening.
Was able to get a seat to myself on one of the benches close to the bar, dislike “the see me in the window seating” greeted by the waiter, and promptly ordered a thirst-quenching Workers Pale Ale to start off with, whilst looking over the menu, along with a mini blackboard that is presented in French, and questioned do you understand French?
I started off with the Beef Oyster Tartare, this came with a portion of fries, which I decided to forgo, as I had ordered the Choucroute and Pork and offered instead a Shake Salad aka a side salad, which I thought was proactive by the waiter. The salad was served in a jar and tossed, hence the name Shake salad as written on the menu, it could have a little more seasoning and sauce I felt.
I had finished off the Workers Pale Ale, and decided to have a glass of Chenin Blanc from the Loire with the Beef Oyster Tartare, the young bartender emptied the remainder of a bottle into a wine glass, and then had to open another bottle to top up the glass of wine to prescribed fill, without checking to see whether the new bottle was drinkable, as the colour was looking slightly oxidised or for the common man, off colour….but, had to say it was drinkable, just.
Back to the Beef Oyster Tartare, I must say a great combination, perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, I would order again.
The Choucroute and Pork was presented with a combination of both sauerkraut and red cabbage which lay underneath the succulent tender pieces of pork belly, this had a sprinkling of sesame seed atop of the tiny cuts of pork.
I was offered a Crème brûlée by the chef, which was served on a warm dish, with berries that had been steeped in alcohol, perhaps a brandy of sorts. And a scattering of edible flowers, the caramelised sugar was rather brittle and the custard cream had started to separate.
RAC Bar has a decent wine selection, could perhaps offer a wider choice by the glass, innovative and original style of food, the service is extremely friendly and price points reasonable. Glad I went along to try, damages for one 381RMB on a Saturday evening, would certainly recommend RAC Bar, and go back, although would choose a time when the posers and gimbals are not around.
I have lost count of the number of times that I have dined at M on the Bund which was one of the few places that offered consistency back in the closing days of 1999 when M first opened, fast forward to 2019 and still going strong in my opinion.
I was invited to dine at M on the Bund just prior to the recent Spring festival, a party of eight, mainly Australian with the exception of me, the group some of whom were first timers to China, and a couple that wanted to show off the lights and sights along the Bund, always a hit with first timers I feel.
As always, one is greeted warmly by the hostess, and then shown to ones allotted table, the restaurant was not busy on this Sunday evening, we all took our seats on a round table, ever so Chinese, I took my seat and the chair collapsed underneath me, I promptly fell backwards, and thought that I had actually broken the chair leg, only to find that the chair leg had gone down one of the ventilation vents on the floor of the restaurant. Lots of fussing by the waiters who assisted in lifting the table and moved the table away from the ventilation vents, a bugbear of mine has always and forever be the height to table ration of restaurant chairs to the actual dining table, I had to request a cushion to sit on to raise my seating level.
To steady one’s nerves after such an encounter several of us promptly ordered Gin Martini's, and all was forgotten, we all looked over the menus, and started to order our individual dishes.
To start off with, I chose the Ottoman Dumplings filled with minced lamb and drizzled with spiced yoghurt, must say these parcels of finely minced lamb went down well.
As for the main course, I opted for the Beef and Lambs Kidney Pie surrounded by creamy mash, and mange tout or snow peas whichever takes your fancy, just right for a chilly night out on in Shanghai, the pie reminded me somewhat of home cooking.
To finish, I convinced the group to order M’s Very Famous Pavlova, well, after all, it is supposed to be an antipodean dessert, whether from the North or South or was it the rather large Westley Island in the antipodes, regardless of who came up with the dessert, the Pavlova was demolished in no time at all.
Throughout the meal, several bottles of Italian red were consumed, which made all in all a delightful evening.
Apart from the mishap with the chair to start with, can’t fault M on the Bund for that special occasion, as it’s always been consistently good.
Shanghai has a plethora of steakhouses, many of which will leave a serious dent in your wallet and at times I have found to be disappointing, but am pleased to say not when dining at either of the El Bodegon casual Argentinian steakhouses.
I have dined at the original El Bodegon on Changsu Lu a number of times over the years, great selection of beef cuts, always affordable, and grilled over coals to your preference, not as easy as one might think to get this spot on each time.
I went along to the new El Bodegon steakhouse on Panyu Lu, that has been open about six weeks now and took advantage of their weekly promotional specials, went for the Rump steak, which to me is by far the tastier of cuts, failing this cut, would have gone for a Sirloin steak.
Ordered the Rump steak rare, and asked for a simple side salad, which they don’t have on the menu ( hint hint if you are reading this) accompanied by a glass of the Malbec at 60RMB for a 150ml, not a bad drop of wine I must say.
I was asked how the steak was, and if it was cooked to my liking, and all a firm yes, I in turn asked for additional salad and chimichurri, along with another glass of wine.
The service staff were extremely efficient in taking the order and topping up the water, no hard sell of fancy sparkling waters either which is a relief.
All in all, for a table of one, damages came to 267RMB and could highly recommend El Bodegon steakhouse on Panyu Lu for their steaks.
The only downside was the young bartender picking his trumpet (aka nose) in full view of the restaurant, not once but twice, carrying on his business, oblivious to being seen by customers.
Generally, I have always found Mexican food to be the same the world over, an offering of Nacho’s smothered in something or other, the usual fare of Tacos, Empanadas and Quesadilla filled with this or that, and a splodge of Chimichurri here or with the ubiquitous guacamole or other forms of mole on the side, and in all honesty never been a convert to Mexican food, as it never seems to have the finesse of other cuisines.
Shanghai has its fair share of Mexican style restaurants, even a Taco Bell, however, one that stands out somewhat over the other Mexican establishments in Shanghai is Maya, which is tucked away in an odd location off Julu Lu, in a clubhouse of all places. I recall going just after it first opened, have been several times since, the restaurant has gone through a number of chefs and managers over the years, and heard that the place had a new team manager the restaurant and thought I should give Maya one last try at redeeming itself, in an attempt at converting me to a mole or two.
So, for a Friday night out with the lads, we dined on the following dishes:
Fresh Seabass Caribbean Ceviche, that included a coconut passionfruit salsa, with a smattering of cashew nuts - must say a delightful dish that was paired with a Spanish Albarino wine.
Slow Roasted Pork Belly which came with a fruity house made Mole Poblano, sweet potato and corn, along with a truffle infused succotash – this dish had a considerable amount of fat on and had to leave most of the dish, paired with a Ribera del Duero.
Australian Beef Short Rib, that had been slow cooked for 48 hours, mopped up with a creamy mash and chimichurri, with black pepper & pasilla rich demi-glace type sauce paired with a Spanish Priorat Vinyes Velles.
And finished off with a Passion Fruit Crème brûlée, which was more like a flan in consistency than a traditional Crème brûlée I felt, nevertheless tasty enough, accompanied by a wonderful dessert wine simply called No.2 Victoria, again from Spain.
The service was a little slow at times, the venue is noisy with the background music, the toilets are a little rank in odour, and this is in the winter, they obviously have an issue with drainage or their noses perhaps.
Overall not a bad night out with a group of lads, damages overall 950RMB per person, I would not rush back to go down Mexico way again, mole or no mole, and we all know mole comes from.
Xiao Qian Xun 晓千寻 is Japanese BBQ restaurant located on Xing Fu Lu, the owner of the restaurant is a huge fan of Hayao Miyazaki, a Japanese animator, filmmaker, screenwriter, cartoonist, author, and manga artist, the restaurant is festooned with figurines and memorabilia from Miyazaki-san.
The restaurant also has several tatami rooms, but opted for the “BBQ Set” on this chilly Wednesday evening, that my regular dining partner had paid for, via a notable Chinese dining App, and shan’t mention by name here.
The service staff were welcoming and efficient in cranking up the brazier and lowering the exhaust hood.
Ordered a couple of Kirin beers to start off with, and the BBQ set was delivered started with Kimchi, Wasabi Octopus and a respectable Seafood salad.
The selection of raw meat was as follows: Ox Tongue / sliced Pork (almost like bacon) / Rib Eye / Short ribs, an additional order of two pre-cooked large prawns, (which were not great) the set meal came with the standard Miso soup / Egg fried rice, which can be recommended, we finished off with a further two Kirin beers.
The meat was a little on the chewy side, nothing to doing with my BBQ cooking skills, I feel that the meat could have had some marinade to accompany the selection.
Overall not an unpleasant experience and for the price of just 382RMB for two pax, could recommend for an inexpensive night out.
SmartReviews is SmartShanghai’s crack squad of amateur reviewers, eating their way around the city and writing about it. They have been chosen from a large pool of applicants and given a set of strict guidelines to follow to make sure their reviews are honest, informed and fair to both potential customers and the restaurants themselves.