Every now and then, the Queen herself (picture inset) descends from her lofty, fart-free heights to mingle with the mortals, and on the rare occasion, actually accepts an invite for a food review, and in turn, benevolently dishes out the invites the way one throws bread to the poor from a bodyguarded limousine in a starving third world nation. With the royal wave, of course.
Looking at her pose, one can almost imagine her getting ready to give the annual Christmas address, .... but yeah, to cut a long story short, her madge invited us to a special auspicious 8 event, organised by Standard Chartered Bank, for its credit card holders, in conjunction with 8 chosen restaurants...priced at RM888++ (actually should be net hor, if they really want it to be prosperous).. for 8 people..(or sometimes 10). Oh, its for Chinese New Year, in case you were wondering.
It's been awhile since I stepped into the hallowed halls of Shanghai. Mentally, I have this image of Shanghai being pork free, fine dining and expensive. Me being a more tai chow kinda person, used to squatting by the roadside, and being the Eliza Doolittle of the Culinary World, am always wary about fine dining places, for fear my lack of etiquette and manners might cause embarassment to the hostess, in this case, the queen herself.
Nevertheless, never one to turn down an opportunity for good food and company, I delightfully accepted the invitation...and was not disappointed. A very unique yee sang presented itself, it was almost the texture of coleslaw, lots of finely shredded cabbage, and not much, if any, of that shockingly dyed preserved stuff that adorn most other yee sang dishes. Which suited me fine. The sauce was also very unique, not your normal plum sauce, but more like a peanut sauce.
According to James, our new found friend, (not that new la, but he's just moved down from that lovely quiet town of Ipoh, hence his fair and smooth complexion), those chopsticks are longer than usual.
Double Boiled Superior Soup With Wantan and Bamboo Pith and Dried Scallops. A hearty broth, that has the wholesomeness of homemade goodness, but yet, might not be something you can easily replicate at home. I mean, who has the time to make wantans at home right!
Mmmm, deep fried goose liver wrapped in bean curd, AND, deep fried grouper in sweet and sour sauce. Groupers... are they like food bloggers? Hanging out in groups, hence the name, Grouper? Or maybe a Grouper is the organiser, like the queen, and we are the groupees. Anyway, I am not usually a fan of deep fried fish in this form, but this grouper was surprisingly moist and delicious. And tastes like fish. You know what I mean, when its filleted, and deep fried, it could be almost anything. But hey, we are talking about a 5 star establishment here.
Imperial fried rice with shrimp and chicken. Imperial indeed, fit for a queen. Delicious and fluffy. Reminds me of one of the old Malay folklore, where this old man, Pak Pandir bumped into a hungry tiger, (Sumatran la, must be), and implored the Tiger to let him finish eating his rice, which he did, and Pak Pandir ate grain by grain, until the Tiger fell asleep. That's how fluffy the rice was...we could eat it grain by grain.
In the remote jungles of the Andes, arising from a jungle of brocolli, an Incan/Mayan pyramid, also known as Ziggurats in Mesopotamia, made out of fat belly pork....
Top marks for presentation! First time I've ever seen such a dish. Well, if the proof of the pudding is in the eating, this porky pudding passes with perfection. Tender slices of melt in the mouth lard, with a hint of lean, (Mrs Jack Sprat would do cartwheels of joy), braised just right. A subtle sauce that complemented the gorgeous meat texture.
And what is a visit to Shanghai without a sampling of their famous Siew Loong Baos. Lovely little dumplings, filled with tasty pork and piping hot soup, that explodes in the mouth like a magical candy from Harry Potter.
The Q&A session with the Chef, who only speaketh the language of the Motherland, was quite a riot with Aly (who's british) and Thamby (who's denying her chink heritage) scrambling for translations. I did them the favour by informing them that the chef was talking about kung fu, and his days at the Shaolin temple... sigh, I amaze myself with how helpful I am.
Deep fried nian gou with sesame seeds. I am ambivalent about this chinese dessert, which was designed to seal the kitchen god's mouth shut so that he did not repeat the gossip he heard in the kitchen, but this particular dish, was not sweet and didnt caramelise your teeth, so it was rather palatable. The generous coating gave it that extra crunch. And to my horror, as I write this, I realise I had missed out one other dessert, sweetened glutinous rice cakes and dried longan.
Let me do a Julia Child, and attempt to describe something without the aid of pictures. The dessert is quite unlike anything I've had, in totality. The sum of the parts in this case was quite different from the individual parts. The glutinous rice cakes have no taste, and has the texture of ... well, glutinous rice but not as sticky. The longans impart that deep earthy smokey taste, into the sweet broth. The neutrality of the rice cakes coupled with the strong flavours of the longan, and its broth is a good match.
[pilfered from J2kfm's blog]
*The Extravagant 8 Menu is priced at RM888+ for a table of 8 pax, additional diner will have to pay RM111+ each. Subject to 10% service charge and 6% government tax.
*The Standard Chartered Extravagant 8 Menu is available for a limited time only – 20th January 2011 until 17th February 2011.
*For reservations please call Shanghai @ 603-2719 8288.
*Shanghai is located on the first floor of JW Marriott Hotel (www), sharing the same premise with Starhill Gallery on Jalan Bukit Bintang in the heart of KL city centre.
Thanks to Shanghai, JW Marriott for hosting the dinner, and to Mr & Mrs Bald Eagle, and Standard Chartered Bank, for the lovely invite.
Others who've reviewed: My Story (Ai Wei) and KgBoyCityGal and of course, J2KFM.