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Food Hotel: The Peninsula, Shanghai

No. 32 The Bund, 32 Zhongshan Dong Yi Road, Shanghai , 200002
(86-21) 2327 2888
Cuisine: International
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The Grande Dame has returned home with the recent opening of The Peninsula, Shanghai. The first new build on the famous Bund in over 60 years and an impressive way to celebrate the Kadoorie family's reemergence in Shanghai.
 
The Grande Dame has returned home with the recent opening of The Peninsula, Shanghai. The first new build on the famous Bund in over 60 years and an impressive way to celebrate the Kadoorie family's reemergence in Shanghai.
 
The Kadoories, are the family behind the hotel's parent group, The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited, which operated four premier hotels in Shanghai pre 1949. It is a return that has been done in style, French art-deco style to be precise. The hotel has an opulent ambience, with subtle Chinese touches, and meticulous attention to detail and design. My favorite art-deco detailing is the peacock-tail style floor indicators above the lifts.
 
Such a grand return ensures that no expense has been spared, with such decadent touches as an elevator large enough to deliver a limousine to the ballroom, a custom-made 1930s Schindler cage lift, and a full-scale replica of a 1930s seaplane in the Rosemonde Aviation Lounge. The gorgeous hi-tech rooms are spacious (said to be among the city's biggest), with stunning interiors, and many have a view of the Bund.
 
Also with a commanding outlook and striking decor is Sir Elly's Restaurant, named after current chairman, Sir Michael Kadoorie's grandfather and founder of the hotel group. It is the hotel's fine-dining European restaurant and has only been open since November 2009.
 
The restaurant is situated on the top two floors of the hotel, and features floor to ceiling windows, views of Shanghai on three sides, a large bar area, the main dining room, an outdoor terrace, and four private rooms (one with its own terrace). It has quickly become the place to be seen.
 
Complementing the superb view, inside and out, is the food. At the helm is French chef, Arnaud Berthelier, who has worked in eight Michelin-starred restaurants, including Alain Ducasse's Le Louis XV, and La Tour d'Argent, and has twice been a James Beard nominee. The cuisine is modern European with French leanings and the dishes are complex. At times the combination of up to six key ingredients didn't work for me, but thankfully those dishes were in the minority.
 
The menu is sure to have gone through a period of adjustment since I visited on the night of its opening. When the dishes work, they excel, bringing stimulation to the palate and the mind. For example, "Oysters", comprising Kumamoto Oyster with Arugula Gel, Fennel Lemongrass Espuma, Pickled Granny Smith. The oyster had a substantial flavour that lingered and danced on the palate, with notes of lemongrass and rocket alternating and fleeting partners. My favorite dish, one that I can still taste, was the "Duck Breast" — "A L'unilateral, Navy Bean and Marzipan Puree, Figs, Almonds. The duck had been cooked predominately on the skin side, hence the name, and as a result took on a crispiness that one associates with Peking Duck. It also added a richness and depth to the dish and textural contrast which kept it interesting. The puree with its intense almond taste complemented the meat, with the figs providing a flavour counterpoint and sharpness to keep the dish balanced. With its creative, flavourful and accessible cuisine, combined with the location and ambience, Sir Elly's is a memorable dining experience.
 
Oh and before you even begin - start the night with the signature cocktail, The Grand Return.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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