Part of the Hakkasan global group known for its restaurant, lounge and nightlife brands, Hakkasan Shanghai has carved out its own identity and culinary taste with a superb menu that perfects taste and presentation, capturing the spirit of London’s contemporary culinary scene while integrating a modern approach to authentic Cantonese cuisine.
While most would want to categorize Hakkasan Shanghai as ‘another fine dining restaurant’, the restaurant delights guests by taking them through a multi-sensorial dining experience.
With a total seating capacity of 224 guests, Hakkasan Shanghai segments its 19,000 square feet into three different dining spaces.
The Ling Ling Lounge sits at the front of the restaurant’s impressive skyline and offers diners a relaxed lounge setting for cocktails or dinner. The main dining area is known as the “Cage”, beautifully defined by latticed woodwork to create intimate dining spaces. Surrounding the periphery of the restaurant are five luxurious private dining rooms complete with its own sofa seating areas and large, circular dining table to encourage conversation over group dinners.
Capturing the late night scene along the infamous Bund in Shanghai, the restaurant features two bars with resident DJs and weekly live instrumental performances. Guests can gaze out at the bustling activity and crowds meandering along The Bund and at the numerous skyscapers across the water, including the iconic Oriental Pearl Radio and TV Tower.
The interior designers have integrated intricate design details to highlight the oriental influence, from the latticed woodwork in the dining room to the engravings in the pillars and armchairs embroidered with majestic dragons; lighting also plays an important role, with a progression from natural light in the Ling Ling Lounge to the use of under-lighting and spot lighting to create a more intimate dining environment in the main dining room.
The menu carries a strong, authentic Cantonese influence, with Hakkasan’s international flair adding a modern twist. While most Hakkasan restaurants would split the menu to be 70% international and 30% local, the Shanghai menu offers 40% of its menu with a tailored, local taste.
A perfect example would be their Luxurious Dim Sum Platter, which adds elegance and sophistication to the traditional small bites, with ingredients such as bird’s nest, abalone and caviar and foie gras.
Another of their locally created dishes is the Sous-vide Australian beef rib. Words can hardly describe the scrumptious flavours of this delightful creation. The marbled texture of the beef ensures each bite melts in your mouth, with the slightly blackened layer of fat on top giving off the delicious aroma of the beef’s natural oils. As a self-proclaimed carnivore, this was the highlight of my visit. The natural flavours and juices are in perfect equilibrium, so even though the dish is accompanied by extra sauces and spices, the ideal way to consume this dish is to have it as is, to fully explore the texture and flavour of the beef.
We have to say that the kitchen served up one surprise after another, as their Champagne Cod was buttery and soft, which we easily cut with a fork. You can taste the flavour of the champagne infused into each bite of the cod, which earns a notable mention, as most restaurants would simply add the Champagne into the sauce, but this cod was marinated for 10-12 hours to ensure the flavour can be experienced with each bite.
As if the preceding dishes didn’t already offer enough of a visual feast, we were treated to a performance by the bartender as they created the signature Zongzi Cha cocktail with gin, black cherry, sake, cranberry, lemon juice, rose syrup, and original bitters. Even after the mist settled the swirl of the cloud inside the glass continued to captivate our attention.
The Smoked Crispy Chicken was a spectacle to behold as it was served at our table, with the smoke tightly captive inside of the vessel. Once the lid was lifted, the heavy smoke escaped along with the wondrous scent of the smoked poultry. The skin of the chicken was crispy and infused with a delicate smokey aroma, delivering on the multi-sensorial experience as promised in Hakkasan’s mandate.
Hakkasan Shanghai is open daily for dinner as well as for Dim Sum Brunch and Afternoon Tea on the weekend.
If you are looking for a venue for fine dining during your visit to Shanghai, we promise that Hakkasan Shanghai will be a culinary highlight. You may even want to stay later to enjoy the night scene and delicious cocktails.
Nanjing East Road, Huangpu, China 200002
Photos by Florence Leung