You’d be remiss to leave Shanghai without eating xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) and hongshao rou (red braised pork), but sometimes you need a break from traditional meats, stir-fried vegetables and noodles. When you do, here’s where to go for Shanghai’s best Western food.
Taking over the space formerly occupied by his mother’s Vietnamese restaurant, banker-turned-restaurateur John Liu has opened a top-notch French eatery in an unassuming location, just 15 minutes south of Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Langham, Xintiandi, Shanghai. With a mother-of-pearl black and white floor, marble and dark wood tables, and mixed bistro chairs, Coquille hits the right mark on simple décor. When it comes to the menu, the escargot, imported from France, gets the fusion treatment, dripping as they are in a rich broth of red curry, lemongrass-ginger butter, lime and coriander. More classic fare includes a moreish duck confit — over butterbean cassoulet and with a side of chili pork crackling — crispy frog legs and all manner of seafood, so gently prepared that you can still taste the brine.
The Commune Social
The second of British chef Jason Atherton’s Shanghai restaurants, The Commune Social is tucked inside a 1920s British police station, which underwent a major makeover at the hands of starchitects Neri & Hu. Scott Melvin, who mans the kitchen, produces lovingly plated tapas such as the miso-grilled mackerel with wasabi avocado and cucumber chutney, pork and foie gras sliders with avocado, pickled cucumber and salt-baked beetroot with burrata. For those with a sweet tooth, pastry chef Kim Melvin steps in, presiding over the dessert bar like a surgeon. There are amuse-bouches of tiny red sangria popsicles and frozen caramel popcorn that tease before you have to make the tough decision about dessert. Will it be chocolate ganache with pistachios, sea salt and olive oil brioche, or perhaps the goat’s cheese, yogurt sorbet, honeycomb and sweet walnuts?
This contemporary Italian restaurant from Jean-Georges Vongerichten is in the same building as the chef’s eponymous Four-Star French restaurant. Like The Commune Social, this space also got an overhaul from Neri & Hu, and the result is on-trend — white subway tile, reclaimed and rough-hewn wood, exposed concrete, glass, steel and Edison-style bulbs. That the restaurant has a bar from which come the requisite aperitifs and digestifs, and it’s open until 1 a.m., has made it a favorite of Bund bar- and club-goers and anyone looking for a late-night bite. The ricotta with seasonal fruit is among the most popular starters and will certainly be ravaged by those at the table. From the wood-fired oven come crispy thin-crust pizzas like the buttery broccolini, spicy salami, and ricotta. The restaurant also serves pasta, but its pizzas and smaller dishes (grilled octopus and the spicy crackling cheese polenta) are the real stars.
Its location on the 13th floor of Five-Star The Peninsula Shanghai affords Sir Elly’s sweeping views of the curve of the Huangpu River, the Bund’s stately buildings and the Pudong skyline. These vistas can be enjoyed from the dining room and 14th-floor terrace. Equally as impressive as the scene is a menu that skews contemporary European while the décor — as it is throughout the hotel — hews Shanghai Art Deco. Classically trained chef David Chauveau and his culinary team utilize seasonal ingredients to prepare the standard fine dining mains — lobster, top cuts of steak — as well as dishes such as juicy lamb cutlets with gnocchi, tender baked cod with confit potato and warming chestnut soup with pheasant. For dessert, nibble on the noir — a sweet trifecta of chocolate mousse, a caramel ball and espresso ice cream.