After a gap of 9 months, I had the chance to go back to The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong. Every time I visit The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong, my jaw just drops like an apple falling due to the forces of gravity. Why? Simply because of the stunning architecture of the hotel’s spacious interior and the warm surroundings that make a sheer comforting place to be at. Though most of the other 5-star hotels in Shanghai are of a very good quality as well, the key aspect that distinguishes The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong from the rest is the aroma of being surrounded in a cosy outfit by the nearby beautiful buildings, such as the futuristic Pearl Tower, and the Jinmao tower. Almost every room has a beautiful view of one of the ‘pearls’ of the Pearl Tower.
This time I got to try the very best of Cantonese cuisine offered by the spacious Jin Xuan restaurant located on the 53rd floor of the hotel. Again there is that sense of warmth offered, blended in with the spectacular décor with superlative affectionate service. Total seating for main dining area is 52 seats, six private dining rooms of 64 seats, and two VIP private dining rooms of 40 seats. The dishes created by the Chinese Executive Chef, Ooi Soon Lok, are just out of this world. It has become a trademark of his to churn out the best of the east and the west in all of his dishes. Take for example dishes such as the ‘wok-fried Australian beef tenderloin, black pepper sauce’ or the ‘signature steamed assorted vegetables with brown sauce’. The former dish was the one where my first reaction was to think ‘Australian beef is wok fried?’, but the Malaysian born Chef Lok has managed it in such a neat way that one can enjoy the sweet tenderness of the beef that is western styled itself, but made using a very authentic Chinese way. It just melts as you take each bite. Lovely chunks of the beef dance in well with the green, yellow, and red peppers. Fabulous. The latter dish is just nothing short of a miracle in the plate created by Chef Lok. From a distance, one may be greatly mistaken in thinking that this dish is all made up of meat products, but in fact, it’s all vegetables! The carrots, the mushrooms, the cabbage, the lettuce, and even the tomatoes all provide a wonderful combination to please the eye and the tongue. It’s the kind of dish that would bring along a smile on your face no matter you are a vegetarian or not.
Chef Lok, who has over 20 years global experience in luxury cooking, has the charm to delight diners with his on the spot creations of culinary extreme. He recalls picking this skill of cooking quickly on the spot while he was working at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, and later at The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou (Lai Heen Restaurant). It was in South China where he learnt that chefs needed to work extra fast as compared to other places he had worked at before, such as Singapore, because the diners in places like South China don’t have much time to eat lunch or dinner because of their hectic lifestyles. He fondly recalled creating this ‘steamed assorted vegetables with brown sauce’ dish in Hong Kong, and it has been a firm favourite for many of his regular diners since then. Having tasted this particular dish myself, I must say that even I may become a member of his fan club. The food he creates has a smooth flair to it, and it goes without saying that all those that try and taste his delightful dishes at Jin Xuan would be let completely gobsmacked.
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