It is in fact National Chocolate Day today (at least in the United States,where most of our blogging brethren are based), so in the spirit of that, Shanghaiist is pitting two of Shanghai’s most famous chocolate purveyors against each other in a Chocolate Face-Off!
For the entertainment of our readers, we had to devour an endless soiree of chocolate desserts. See the sacrifices we make? Alright, alright, we were really just looking for a reason to revisit Whisk and HoF, while stuffing our faces with our favorite treats.
Whisk: 1250 Huaihai Zhong Lu near Changshu Lu, 淮海中路1250号. Open Daily 10:30am-11:30pm. Telephone is 54047770.
hOF: 30 Sinan Lu near Huaihai Zhong Lu, 思南路30号. Tue-Thu,Sun 11am-10:30pm; Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. Telephone is 60932058.
Onto the desserts!
‘Best Chocolate Cake’ goes to Whisk
Whisk’s Chocolate Therapy
HoF puts a twist on the classic chocolate cake by tucking some cereal crunch into it, which ends up making it an acquired taste. Half the table couldn’t stop shoveling their spoons into their mouths, but the other half preferred gaining their calories with other desserts. The fudge on top is thick and creamy, but there was too much of it, which ruined the topping-to-cake ratio. Their name for it, Death by Chocolate Cake (36RMB), is apt. In all honesty, we felt a little stomach pain from chocolate overdose.
Whisk sticks to a more traditional recipe and comes out with a more than decent slice of Chocolate Therapy (45RMB). But we were also enamored by its own playful twists – Both the Coco Cabana(40RMB) and the Upside Down(45RMB) were sinfully good. Coco Cabana “packs in the vitamins” with the banana. The banana taste compliments the chocolate very well. The Upside Down is a favorite at Whisk. It comes with a saucer of vanilla ice cream to pair up with the molten chocolate cake. With three great cake options, Whisk takes away the prize, hands down.
‘Best Brownie’ goes to HoF
Warning: the brownies of both entrants are very filling for a dessert. Both HoF and Whisk serves it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some nuts tucked between the crumbs.
The Whisk Brownie(40RMB) is fudgy with a thick texture. The ganache on top is really all the fudge you can expect though, so balance each spoonful well. With our brownie, it was a tad too dry for our taste buds. Whisk whips up a standard American brownie; a trite cliche that we probably won’t go back for seconds.
On the other hand, HoF’s Walnut Fudge Brownie (36RMB) is really something special. Just the look of it suggests its something more than just a typical brownie. Each crumb is just as fudgy as the chocolate ganache smeared on top of it. It’s a recipe well executed; the result is creamy and a little crispy – just the kind of flair that pulls HoF’s brownie to the winning spot.
‘Best Mousse’ Goes to HoF
HoF’s Chocolate Caramel Mousse
HoF’s Chocolate Caramel Mousse(39RMB) is delightful. HoF’s mousse managed to be both light and creamy. If we were to nag, we’d say that our tongues didn’t register the “french sea salt sprinkled caramels” they advertised. Still, we savored every last bite… as opposed to Whisk where we left the dish half untouched.
Whisk’s Envy Chocolate Mousse(45RMB) was unimpressive; desserts aren’t the same when its a chore to finish them.
HoF’s Creme Brulee
‘Best Brulee’ goes to HoF
Alright, alright, even though HoF’s Creme Brulee (26RMB) isn’t a chocolate dessert, it still deserves honorable mention here. HoF’s creme brulee is absolutely excellent. The custard retains the egg flavor without overdoing it. A small pool of light caramel sauce is there at the bottom of the dish, giving us the chance to figure out that perfect ratio on the spoon of caramel and custard. The caramelized layer on top is a little too thin for our liking.
Whisk’s Chocolate Brulee(35RMB) is another dessert that frankly brings down its menu. The chocolate brulee is a mouthful and gives the feeling one would get if trying to injest a solid block of Nutella.
‘Best Signature Specialty’ goes to Whisk
Whisk’s Warm Chocolate Pudding
Some may argue that we’ve already covered Whisk’s signature specialty with the Upside Down or the Coco Cabana, but we’re choosing to represent it with its Warm Chocolate Pudding. As for HoF, the name’s the game: their signature specialty is their Signature Orange Chocolate Mud Cake with caramel and sea salt.
Whisk’s Warm Chocolate Pudding is the closest thing to heaven. It comes with a chocolate chip cookie, which had the consistency of an oatmeal one. Cookies aside (literally, like the photo), the dessert has no flaws. It’s hot and it’s cold – there’s the vanilla ice cream on top and then the warm, spongy chocolate cake on the bottom, doused in chocolate sauce. We scraped the glass clean. Sadly, sometime in the past two months, Whisk has cut this dessert’s size down considerably. Despite still costing 40RMB, you’re getting less, and this was one thing we don’t want less of.
Everybody’s favorite at HoF seems to be the Orange Chocolate Mud Cake. One user (utensils1-977) wrote that the cake hit her “G-spot (Gastronomic Spot)”. But for us, it didn’t have the same effect. Perhaps it was over-hyped, but ours turned out slightly dry and crusty, maybe HoF stingy with their caramel? Unfortunately, HoF didn’t quite live up to our expectations, but since there seems to be an overwhelming majority ready to protest that, we’ll go back sometime for a second opinion.
So with that, we ranked Warm Chocolate Pudding over the Orange Chocolate Mud Cake.
Decor, Service and Other Fluff
Decor: It’s hard to compare the light, airy Whisk atmosphere to the romantic, candlelit HoF setting. HoF seems more geared to romantic dinners whereas Whisk serves for any function, really – though we really were baffled by their choice of lime green walls.
Service: HoF took the upper hand easily in service. Whisk is becoming notorious for its poor service, unfortunately. Whisk waiters mustered up a smile when we entered but spent the rest of the time scowling. Apparently asking for extra utensils deserves a death glare. Oops!
Water Service: Yes, it’s something that needs to be addressed individually, especially considering how much sweetness we were downing. For places that practically put you into a chocolate coma, neither was very liberal with their H2O. It’s not an uncommon complaint about Whisk that there’s no such thing as tap water. Pay 5RMB for a bottle. At HoF, you have to request for water, and even then, the waiters need a few prods to drop the question of “What brand?” and just get you the tap water.
We got your attention (and your stomachs growling) – leave a comment below on what you think of HoF versus Whisk! Warning: don’t try all these desserts at once. We can’t take responsibility if you fall into a chocolate coma.