I have been reviewing Chinese restaurants for quite a long time that it doesn’t take too long to find out if the place is more of a glamorized version of your local Chinese takeaway or if really the place the befits an emperor. Nevertheless, since this was the Shangri-la hotel in Pudong, I was hoping to have my eyes set on something a far more grand than would be on offer. So here I was at the beautifully decorated Gui Hua Lou
Even though the hotel has been open since 1998, the 160-seat Gui Hua Lou only came into existence in 2006. The key to the success of the restaurant has to be in the hands of Chef Gao Xian Sheng, who brings with him not only the 22 years of culinary experience, but a real charm to surprise even the most experienced of dinars. This place is packed, and that’s also a testament to its existence.
It’s difficult to list all the dishes that we tried, but some of the highlights were “curried prawns”, and the “Xi’an style local noodles”. It’s seems hard to believe but the smooth and ultra thin noodles are handmade to perfection. When you take each mouthful, the noodles don’t break that easily even though they are thin and are seem to appear fragile. The curried prawns are equally tantalising, both for the tongue and a feast for the eyes.
The ‘hot and spicy’ sauce served with the dishes achieved a delightful balance so perfect between the heat and the sesame that it was not so spicy after all. The only thing about the Sichuan style spicy chicken is that it came with bones. Call me spoilt, but I like my meat with bones, and without the skin. Though to balance the argument, I am aware that if the meat is not served on the bone and skin, then it ain’t the real deal! In addition, it’s not like your average chicken dish, the meat is crunchy (because of the fried spices on it), and tenderly succulent. It’s the kind of dish that you can keep eating endlessly if there was no stomach lining.
To my delight I found out that Chef Sheng is from Yangzhou, famous for the ‘Yangzhou chou fan’ (egg fried rice), and so it was with without mention that I asked him to present me an authentic dish of this traditional and simple dish. I am a huge fan of ‘Yangzhou chow fan’, and it somewhat bought a huge smile on my face when the chef told me that he will prepare the dish. ‘Please wait, I’ll be back soon’ Said Chef Sheng. He did not fail in his task, and produced one of the best ‘Yangzhou chow fan’s’ I have had in times in memorial.
This was not my first time to the Gui Hua Lou, and I am sure it won’t be my last either.
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