Considering our proximity to Hong Kong, mediocre Cantonese cuisine seems to be the rule of thumb around here. 茶餐厅 (“tea canteens”) in the true Hong Kong fashion are few and far between while the better of dim sum restaurants are so crowded that by the time you secure a table, the Shanghai Expo would have come and gone.
In our selfless aim to find good dim sum, at least on this side of the Huangpu, we’ve pounded the pavements but didn’t get very far due to sheer laziness. That, and we found two such convenient restaurants in the newly opened Shanghai Bay.
First off, Shanghai Bay is an open air-concept mall located along Zhangyang Lu, occupying a whole block between Pudong Nan Lu and Pucheng Lu. It has a large sweeping roof that curves upwards, and at night, pillars that line the building on one side, are lit up with twinkling blue lights.
Queen MudanTing (“Peony Pavilion”) is a welcoming, modern-looking restaurant which serves, in our opinion, consistently authentic Cantonese dishes. The interior is bright and cheerful; one side is a long mosaic-tiled wall of pink peonies (reflecting its theme), the other is top-to-bottom glass giving you a glimpse of shopper traffic. The al fresco dining space will be highly coveted once the weather cools.
Thanks to a great Guangdong chef, dim sum classics are all present and as we’ve eaten about 80% of the menu, we can assure you, most dishes are very palatable. What we enjoy are their traditional Cantonese double-boiled soups (nutritious and rich), comforting wonton noodles, especially paired with BBQ Roast Pork (gleaming and fatty), and even small platters of Suckling Pig (only available on weekends).
The only complaint we have is the chili sauce they use. This vital condiment can make or break a meal, and in our case, we’ve debated this with the seriousness of a PhD dissertation. Verdict: Acceptable but if the restaurant manager is reading this; my advice is to stick to the traditional chili oils they use in Hong Kong.
Accompany your meal with a carafe of refreshing brown sugarcane juice and you may live to bake in the sun yet another day. Expect to pay between RMB80 to 100 a head, and even more if you’re hungry.
On the more casual end of the culinary spectrum, is the dining section of Cashbox Party World, the 24 hour karaoke entertainment outfit, located in the basement of Shanghai Bay. The diner does brisk business, offering cheap, cheerful and rather tasty Cantonese cuisine (menu similar to those mentioned above) as well as other Shanghai snack favorites. The BBQ Roast Pork is a crowd-pleaser apparently, a reason why many are willing to put up with the garish Versailles mini-fountain and pianist playing Celine Dion music. Be warned, there are some duds buried in the menu, one being the Crispy Seafood noodles which taste like strips of rubber, accented by elastic cuttlefish. According to our incredibly scientific poll amongst friends who live to eat, the quality of Cashbox food differs by locations. If you find our claims false, email us and we won’t send you a refund. Order RMB50 and more, and delivery (within a reasonable distance) is free.
No. 1138 South Pudong Road
Queen Mudanting, No. 133
Tel: 5877 7297
Cashbox Party World, Basement
Tel: 6859 8333