World Travel Guide catches up with celebrity chef and man about town, Paul Pairet, for a culinary tour of Shanghai.
For the discerning foodie, Shanghai is a joy. The city, China’s largest, has more restaurants than you can shake a wonton at; from world-class international eateries to authentic street food, it has a flavour to suit every palate and budget.
But with so much choice, it can be difficult to unearth the very best restaurants. So to help us get the measure of the city’s culinary offerings, we caught up with celebrity chef, Paul Pairet.
The Frenchman has established himself as one of the city’s leading chefs and is the mastermind behind two of the best restaurants in Shanghai; Mr & Mrs Bund and Ultraviolet. They were ranked seventh and eighth respectively in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013, and both regularly top the city’s culinary charts.
What’s the concept behind your restaurants?
They have widely different natures; Mr & Mrs Bund (Bund 18, 6/F, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu) is a modern French eatery and Ultravioletis an avant-garde, experimental restaurant. It is the first restaurant of its kind and attempts to unite food with multi-sensorial technologies to create a fully immersive dining experience.
Sounds exciting, tell us more?
The location of Ultraviolet is a secret; guests are picked up from a pre-determined location in a van with tinted windows and driven to the restaurant. There are only 10 seats in the restaurant and diners all sit together on one table and eat the same 20 courses. Why? Because, technically, 10 is the perfect number for a single plating by the kitchen and the best number to share a bottle of wine.
Aside from your own eateries, what are your favourite restaurants in Shanghai?
Mercato (Bund 3, 6/F, 3 Zhong Shan Dong Yi Lu) by Jean Georges is like a home away from home – it serves Italian cuisine in a contemporary yet vintage space. And Capo (5/F, Yifeng Galleria, 99 Beijing East Road) is the place to go for good pizza and glamour.
Money no object, where should foodies dine in Shanghai?
What, apart from Ultraviolet? Fook Lam Moon (33 Fucheng Road) serves excellent Cantonese food and has great views. Standout dishes include suckling pig. Jean Georges (Bund 3, 4/F, 3 Zhong Shan Dong Yi Lu), a French restaurant with an Asian twist, is particularly good for brunch. It represents great value for the taste it has to offer.
What are the best places for authentic, cheap eats?
Crystal Jade, a Chinese/Cantonese chain with over 100 outlets, is good for roasted pork and Xiao Long Bao, which is a traditional steamed bun from Shanghai. Din Tai Fung, a Taiwanese chain, is also a popular place to try Xiao Long Bao. Kabb (Xintiandi North Block, 181 Taicang Lu) is a good value bistro bar with a large menu and casual atmosphere. It is located in a shikumen, which is a traditional Shanghai townhouse (most of which have been demolished to make way for new developments).
What are the must-eat dishes in Shanghai?
You have to try Xiao Long Bao and roasted pork, which is a traditional dish in Shanghai. And, of course, for an unforgettable dining experience, you must eat at Ultraviolet.