The Four Seasons in Pudong‘s Chinese restaurant is unusual for a hotel restaurant in China. With food of the quality served at Shang Xi, however, there is little to criticise here.
The most striking aspect of Shang Xi at the Four Seasons in Pudong is its intimacy. Of course, there are the obligatory private dining rooms, but the main dining room itself is tiny by Chinese standards. No more than a couple dozen of diners can eat in this beautiful room at any given time. The décor adds to the feeling of sophistication, and intimacy making this one of the more beautiful dining rooms in Shanghai.
The food here offers a combination of local classics, and some Cantonese dishes. Whilst the cooking here is mostly classically minded, the brigade occasionally serves modernised versions of dishes. Braised pork belly for instance is served in slices, sitting atop thin sheets of deep-fried tofu skin. On the side caviar and set egg whites complement the meat. Whilst this is a lighter way of eating this rather rich meat-dish, the caviar and egg white combination seems a little bizarre.
A lot better are abalone tarts. Delicate pastry shells are topped with an entire abalone that is glazed in a rich, complex braising sauce. The pastry is so fragile that it is both crunchy, and melting, whilst the abalone and its sauce are perfectly cooked and seasoned. This is simply delightful.
One dish that really shows the kitchen‘s technical dexterity is roast suckling pig. The skin has that texture that you find in the very best restaurants in Hong Kong-light, crispy, without being hard at all. Combined with its sauce, and a thin bun this is one dish that you simply cannot get enough of.
Being in Shanghai, Shang Xi is almost obliged to offer Xiao Long Bao. Luckily enough, the soup dumplings served here are beautiful. Delicate pastry, rich, complex soup, and very tasty filling all come together to produce a very sophisticated version of these culinary marvels.
In a city that has a proud culinary tradition, opening a restaurant that is as beautiful, sophisticated and good as this is something we hope to see more. Given its intimate size, and very good food it should be one of the restaurants to look out for in the near future.