Most hotel restaurants in China’s capital either serve Cantonese or Beijing cuisines. Finding one that does something very different is not easy. And yet, the Shangri La’s Shang Palace now also started serving South-East Asian influenced dishes.
Chef Kam joined the hotel in August 2013, and immediately began changing the menu. Apart from the Cantonese dishes that it continues to feature, guests now have the possibility to eat completely different ones, inspired by Kam’s Malaysian roots.
Take for instance suckling pig with shrimp paste: the skin has been crisped up beautifull; it is crunchy, and soft at the same time. Instead of having it with the meat, which can be a bit heavy, at Shang Palace, the skin is served with shrimp paste that adds a delicate crustacean flavour to the dish, and provides a perfect textural contrast.
Equally tasty are prawns that are battered with salted egg yolk and served with a mixed salad and a sweet chilli sauce. This is not particularly elaborate cuisine, but very well executed, delicious food. The contrast between the crunchy meat of the prawns and intensely flavoured, slightly salty egg-yolk batter brings out the sweetness of the crustaceans. The chilli sauce adds a kick to it that makes this a tasty dish.
To show that the kitchen here is perfectly capable of serving more delicately flavoured dishes, a mushroom and chicken soup is the perfect example. The clear broth has an incredibly potent, deep, and complex flavour. What is remarkable is how natural the flavour is. There is very little seasoning in it, and yet you have an intense impact from the various wild mushrooms. This is in some ways the perfect dish to demonstrate that the kitchen brigade is perfectly capable of serving both food that is comforting, and dishes that are much more elaborate and complex.
Shang Palace is the only luxury hotel-restaurant in Beijing to serve South-East Asian influenced dishes. That these are executed faultlessly, makes it a place well worth seeking out.