While there is much dim sum to be had in Shanghai, it’s hard to find some place that’s both easy on the wallet and still pretty enough to impress. While Yue 1525 (not to be confused with the multitude of other Yues out there) may have some service issues, it’s come the closest of any Cantonese restaurant so far to having a perfect balance of good price and good atmosphere.
The dim sum “deal” is only good for lunch, but they do it every day of the week from 11am to 2pm. Yue’s ads tend to focus on how they have 8rmb dishes, but in truth, there’s maybe five or six of them on the actual menu. This isn’t to say your meal will be expensive, however. In fact, some of their pricier dim sum options are a steal.
At the start of your dim sum meal, you’re given a paper menu for you to mark off the dishes you would like. Instead of putting actual rmb values next to each dish, Yue has confusingly marked it by category. 8rmb dishes are called 小 (small). The next level is 中 (medium – 12rmb), followed by 大 (big – 16rmb), 特 (special – 18rmb) and 顶 (top – 22rmb). Even more confusing: dishes aren’t put in order of price, so that ordering cheaply requires some concentration.
But once you get past that aspect, the food itself is quite good. A favorite 小 dish was their vegetable dumplings, which had been wrapped in a crystal clear, slightly gelatinous skin. The 中 price point had more of the traditional dim sum dishes – bbq pork buns, shrimp dumplings and the like. I recommend the deep-fried curry pastries, which were savory and crispy without feeling too oily.
Funnily enough, the 顶 category had the best deals. One of the best dishes of the day was the cheong fan (rice noodle rolls) with scallops, a chef specialty according to the menu. A plate of crispy pork – juicy cubes of pork belly with their skin expertly fried – was a steal at 22rmb. On the dinner menu, the same portion is about twice the price.
You enjoy your food in much more relaxing digs than traditional yum cha dining spots. Located in the Pentahotel near Zhongshan Park, Yue’s eschewed cart-pushers and giant tables for immaculately dressed waiters and more intimate table settings. The decor reminded me of a toned down, tamer Shanghai Tang – modern twists on art deco, but with beige replacing black and pastels replacing neon. It’s quite nice.
Not as nice is the service. While food came out quick and accurate (props to their kitchen), every other step along the way was an involved process of waiving down somebody, anybody, to help us. Our table had to ask for the dim sum menu. We had to ask to have it taken away once we ordered. We had to ask to order drinks, and then ask again when the first waiter only managed to record and bring out half the drinks we ordered. We asked three of the wait-staff for the check before someone finally came to tally it up for us. Trying to get the original receipt (one showing the exact dishes we ordered) took another five minutes as a waitress tried to argue that she couldn’t print us one.
Hopefully, it’s just because Yue is still relatively new and the labor shortage has made training up staff harder. Until they sort it out, we recommend going on their less busy days – Monday through Friday – rather than on the weekend.
Yue 1525 is located at 2/F, 1525 Dingxi Lu (定西路1525号2楼). Telephone: 6225-8665.