Best of the Best … Shanghai

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At the iconic Peace on the Bund, Chinese masterchef Ma, George Wee and Jessica Zhang

Here, in the high-octane “Paris of the East”, Shanghai I’m thinking of Mumbai’s very own Sassoon docks and Sassoon library. Would you believe that Shanghai’s most exquisite and legendary  landmark (1929) The clàssic  grand art deco històric  Fairmont Peace on the Bund has an Indian connection? It’s founder Victor Sassoon and family made a lot of their wealth in Mumbai. Old world elegance and modern luxury here… It has a beautiful Indian suite  which Charlie Chaplin stayed in.

Here, I lunch at the city’s oldest Shanghainese cuisine restaurant. Chinese Masterchef Ma coaxes the most vibrant flavors and textures The dynamic George Wee — who helms this landmark and the everhelpful Jessica Zhang translate  his explanations. I dine at the worlds only multi-sensory, ten seater Ultraviolet to the hole in the wall, Jia Jia Tang Bao. Trip out on the most fabulous pure vegetarian Fu hu wei, Wujei. Godly …but thats a long story.

P.S Thanks for hundreds of your superb  vegetarian restaurant recommendations for Shanghai (on Instagram and email).…am off to Hangzhou, Chengdou and Beijing…please send more…xeixei!

Review: Jia – The Oriental Kitchen & Bar

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My review of Jia, Mumbai’s hottest new Oriental restaurant follows. Its been packed ever since it opened. In order to evaluate consistency I dined here thrice (therefore the three photos). Each time we came away delighted as did the guests there.

Read my detailed review on https://whatshot.in/mumbai

The Diverse Flavors of Shanghai

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Today I serve up a taste of the glamorous, vibrant “Paris of the East” I write from shiny Shanghai. Its the most modern, cosmopolitan city of China and it seems to be on steroids. Yet there is a core of history and the grace and elegance of it’s heyday in the thirties that still lives on. So I serve up a flavor  of two of the most icònic landmarks… the històric grand Fairmont Peace on the Bund (it’s founder Victor Sassoon and family made a lot of their wealth in Mumbai and India)  and the very modern Urban resort, The Puli.

LEGENDARY LANDMARK

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AT THE OLDEST SHANGHAINESE RESTAURANT IN THE PEACE ON THE BUND. CHEF MA, GEORGE WEE, JESSICA ZHANG

I not only soak in the luxury of this exquisite classical masterpiece but also lunch at the oldest Shanghainese cuisine restaurant of Shanghai here. The clàssic grand art deco històric Peace on the Bund (it s the only hotel in the world which has it’s own museum was the toast of the Far East in the 30s. It is located on the Bund (overlooking the HuangPo river) which is a centennial epitome of Shanghai itself. This classical architectural masterpiece started off as Sassoon House in 1929 and rich history tangos with modern luxury here. And whoa! Chinese Masterchef Ma coaxes the most vibrant flavors and textures using the traditional caramelised sweetness with soy sauce and more. Sweet and sour, the typical Shanghai taste  shines through and yet the original flavors of the raw ingredients are also preserved. Interestingly while he serves the most classical Shanghainese dishes he also adds contemporary interpretations and plates them artfully. The dynamic George Wee — who helms this landmark along with the ever helpful Jessica Zhang translate Chef Ma’s explanations. I revel in the most amazing bamboo shoots lacquered with soy, the crazily addictive, crunchy skinned Peace Duck , the creamy sago mango dessert to the crunchy marinated cucumbers (Masterchef ma generously shares the rècipe). All the while soaking in the històric rich red and gold details of the restaurant and the serene river view from the large Windows.

MARINATED CUCUMBER

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Cucumber:  500 g /Soya sauce: 80g

Sugar: 160g /Vinegar: 60g

Salt: 5g /Garlic (sliced): 10g

Ginger: 10g /Chili: 10g

Slice the cucumber and marinate with the above sauces for 24 hours and plate it.

MODERN MAJESTY

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MICHELIN STARRED PHENIX, AT THE PULI…Chef MICHAEL WILSON and KELLY KUO

What a super surprising contrast. Glimmering, shiny hoardings of the globe’s leading cosmopolitan brands festoon the gleaming buildings. And in the midst of this crazy cacophonic area in the throbbing heart of Shanghai is located a relaxed, zen like zone of Peace.  Handcrafted textures, the finest of natural materials weave a charming relaxed ambiance in the most modern icon The Puli.  Its been justifiably hailed as a “modern urban luxurious  resort”,  “a seductive sanctuary that guarantees a relaxing escape from the heart Racing city”. And in keeping with it’s sophisticated cosmpolitian essence, it’s French restaurant Phenix is not only hugely popular but has also been awarded a Michelin star. And further in keeping with it’s cosmopolitan essence, the Australian chef Michael Wilson creates light and delightful French masterpieces, which I enjoy with Kelly Kuo in the modren elegant restaurant overlooking the lush green park. Be it the Cod, the yoghurt compressed strawberry desert, violet ice cream.. Even the humble potato is elevated to luxurious creaminess. Its  a very simple rècipe, but its the ratio of the butter to the potato that is important as is the addition of the hot milk. The nutmeg gives it that special festive touch.

Pomme puree

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1kg  potatoes /Good quality butter

Nutmeg /Salt /Fresh truffles (optional)

Peel and cut potatoes into equal size pieces

Boil in salted water till tender

Strain and leave for 3 mins for residual water to evaporate

Mash potato by pushing through a fine sieve. For every 500g of potato add 200g butter.Mix the butter into the potato and add some hot milk to thin the mix

Season with salt and nutmeg

When availaible shave fresh truffles on top just before serving

Mumbai Dazzles in Dubai

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Mumbai shining: Faarah Mehta Shewakramani, Rita Karanjia Mehta and Liza Mehta Vyas at Coya.

Delicious news! Mumbai is trailblazing and showing the way to Dubai. In more ways than one. Our very own revered and feared, media baron (Blitz)  the late Russy Karanjia’s grand-daughter Faarah Mehta Shewakramani’s pioneering  and fully booked up elective educational academy is  the talk of the town. It is infusing culture, art and even  gourmet (love that)  knowledge  . High profile editor Rita Mehta Karanjia makes time from her hectic  media and celebrity management work,  to be the supportive mother.  Who would’ve thought that a dinner at  a world famous Peruvian restaurant in Dubai would be all about shining the spotlight on Mumbai and India? Over the vibrant, fragrant and colourful dishes, I discover that Lilavati hospital in Mumbai is named after my other guest, the talented Liza Mehta Vyas’s philanthropic mother. And as though all these Mumbai connections were not enough, not only is Coya owned by the Indian Waney brothers but even the executive chef is Indian. Jai ho!

Review: Candy & Green

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The two month old Candy & Green brings vegetarian carbon free dining. It promises “fit fresh and fun”.

Read my detailed review on https://whatshot.in/mumbai/candy-and-green-is-all-about-fresh-and-fun-food-r-9759

Luxurious Vegetarian

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Superstylish Palazzo Versace’s Jasmine Webb and Chef Dayan Hartell_Law.

My mission to sniff out the finest vegetarian food around the world continues. And even here, in “the worlds most stylish restaurant” in Palazzo Versace, (the worlds first fashion branded hotel,)  I’m dazzled by the parade of  sophisticated and delicious vegetarian dishes. I love the transcendence of Italian design which shines through the marbles and mosaics, vaulted ceilings hand-detailed in gold. And equally amazing is chef Dayan hartell-Law’s mastery over flavors and textures.  Including that over  our very own Madras Onion and curry powder which is elevated to stratospheric heights Finedining gets redefined. Juicy watermelon, crunchy radish and fingerlime morph in the most refreshing ceviche. The humble potato is elevated to a gourmet status as it is paired with kombu, the fleshy  portobello  and the flavorpacked porcini. As does the vivacious and beautiful Jasmine Webb. We raise a toast to Versace serving up style as well as substance…and we do it with  a sorbet, in a Versace cup of course!

P.S Should you want Palazzo versace’s  Madras onion dish recipe please email rashmiudaysingh2016@gmail.com  

Review: Stables

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Whoa! This brand new equestrian themed British gastropub has just galloped into Marol from Dubai.

Read my detailed review on https://whatshot.in/mumbai/critics-review-does-this-dubai-stable-has-hit-the-jackpot-r-9754

Luxurious Veggie Wow

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Luxury gets redefined, Claire Huang, Jasmine Webb with Chef Dayan Hartill-Law at Vanitas

I’m in “the worlds most stylish restaurant” . And what am I getting most dazzled by? I am not only amazed at how vegetables parade in their classical, sophisticated swagger yet burst with flavour and freshness, but also with the flavours of our very own Madras Onion and curry powder which is elevated to stratospheric heights (please see photo and recipe) .  Can vegetarian dishes be so luxurious? Or wow with their masterly balance of  textures and flavours? Be art on a plate and a seduction of the palate? For sure. And where else except in Vanita’s, which the internationally acknowledged Harpers magazine justifiably declared  the worlds most stylish restaurant.

It preens stylishly in the worlds first ever fashion-branded hotel, Palazzo Versace which is raising the gold standard here. Palazzo Versace  sprawls luxuriously in the Gold Coast. The transcendence of Italian design shines through the marbles and mosaics, vaulted ceilings hand-detailed in gold.

And luxury just became more unique and bespoke as the stunningly beautiful and everhelpful Jasmine Webb takes me on their unique “Glamour E Lusso“ in their custom made Rolls Royce phantom (Versace cushions et al ). We glide  to the recently revamped  and magnificent Pacific Fare. Not only does the expert stylist guide me through the amazing mall,champagne and chocolates et al  but we also stop by for the Chinese Yumcha.

And on return,  a stone and seasalt Japanese therapy gets me all rejuvenated for Chef Dayan  Hartill-Law’s gourmet dinner in the Vanitas restaurant.

Having honed his skills under the worlds best chefs, like Heston Blumenthal  and helmed many a leading restort, Chef Dayan has developed his own inimitable style. Finedining gets redefined. Dom Perignon sparkles our  winepaired degustation  dinner. Freshest of produce & vibrant flavors implode on our taste-buds. I opt for a mainly vegetarian menu. I love the Evolution of seasonal snacks  from the ceviche  (juicy watermelon, crunchy radish and fingerlime ). The humble potato is elevated to a gourmet status as it is paired with kombu, the fleshy  portobello  and the flavor packed porcini. Its the  Madras onion  that fascinates.  Of course I do try the superb Lamb made intense  with black garlic jus  but its Chef Dayan’s  vegetarian fare that suprises and seduces. The finale  dessert  of the finest French chocolate  and peppermint leaves the sweetest taste. As does my conversation with the vivacious and brilliant Claire Huang  who  helms this iconic landmark. She epitomises style as well as substance, much as the superstylish “Palazzo Versace” does.

Palazzo Versace’s Madras Onion

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Madras curry powder

2 tbsp coriander seeds 1 tbsp cumin seeds /1 tsp fenugreek

1 stick cassia bark /10 cardamom pods /1 tsp black peppercorns /5 dried red chillies /25 small curry leaves

2 tbsp ground turmeric

Toast all individually until fragrant, then grind till all smooth.

Onion

4 brown onions /4 heaped teaspoons curry powder

100ml olive oil /5g sea salt flakes

Peel onions down to the size of a small apple, leaving the top and bottom intact. Place all in sous vide bag and compress on highest setting then, cook at 68 degrees for 8 hours.

Raspberry pickle

500ml white wine vinegar / 1 punnet raspberries

Bring to a simmer and allow to infuse for 2 hours.

Carrot pickle

1 bunch baby carrots / 500ml above pickle

Peel and clean carrots. Then slice on a mandolin at 3mm thick. Then pour over warm pickle and reserve for 1 hour. Once cooled remove the carrots from the pickle and roll into cylinders.

Chef had also included Onion foam  and  carrot and botrytis in the recipe but this maybe difficult to make at home since ingredients are not available here so am not including it. It does take away from the final dish but even just the onion with the carrot and raspberry pickle tastes and looks superb,

Place the cylinders of carrot (carrot pickle)  around in a circle big enough to fit the onion on, Then cut the base of the onion off  and place on the carrots. I tried this myself and home and soft and fleshy onion tastes sublime with tangy carrots.

Divinely Delicious Dive

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Island owner and pilot Peter Gash with Chef Mitch on Lady Elliot island.

It’s a deliciously life changing experience. Above and below the waters too. I’m in this tiny (one mile long,) remote Lady Elliot Island which shimmers in the turquoise blue waters of Australia’s Great Barrier reef. Peter Gash  the gallant owner of the island, flies me in his tiny plane and the  colourful, naked beauty of nature seduces. He has been dedicatedly reforesting  this island  and preserving the pristine marine life (I snorkel and dive for the first time)and running this amazing 41 room eco resort. In the midst of  this raw nature the brilliant Chef Mitch conjures a gourmet meal from Moreton Bay Bugs in a coconut Asian sauce to handmade Salted Caramel Macarons.

We feast on the beach and right there in the azure sunset flecked waters the sea turtles, whales, dolphins dance to a divine rhythm.

P.S. I love the India connection…this remote island is named after  the Lady Elliot ship built in Calcutta. Named after the governor of India’s wife it was the ship in which the island was  discovered. Jai hind!