JW Marriott's lush Shanghai Restaurant offers practically every Shanghainese dish you'd ever want, though its claim-to-fame is to that it serves the best Shanghainese "xiao long bao" (苏浙苑精品小笼包) in KL - yes, better than the ones served at one of the Crystal Jade's KL outlets as well as Din Tai Fung KL, both located in the upmarket Pavilion Mall, just across the road from JW Marriott KL.
My dinner there was a case of hits-and-misses though:
- Smoked duck's eggs - beautifully done here, the bright orange yolks molten-soft, and I liked the way the eggs were served with cashews, seaweed and crisps;
- "Xiao long bao" - delicate & translucent-skinned but, perhaps after my recent meal in HK's Shanghai Fraternity Association restaurant, the ones here paled in comparison. The flavors were one-dimensional and lacked the subtlety & taste-sensory pleasure which good "xiao long baos" provide one's palate;
- Crisp-fried eels with spicy salt-pepper - yech, didn't like this at all. I much preferred the type with glossy caramelly-vinegary coating that's de rigeur in Shanghainese restaurants elsewhere;
- Xiao bai cai braised vegetables in chicken stock and garlic were good - in fact, the best dish for the evening;
- Braised lion's head dumpling (獅子頭). The ones served here were the red variety (红烧), braised with a soy-based, unctuous sauce and contained Chinese white cabbage, fresh bamboo shoots & mushrooms. The sauce was tasty enough but, here again, the meatballs (though light & well-textured) came across as pretty bland, and lacked the "umami" taste sensation I was looking for.
For dessert, we ordered some steamed layer cake with custard and duck's yolks, which were lovely and the best-tasting morsels we had all evening.
Service at the Shanghai Restaurant was the best I'd ever encountered in KL - definitely Michelin-star standard. The food is perhaps the best Shanghainese in KL (restaurant patrons this evening were a mix of Chinese-Malaysians and Mainland Chinese visitors/tourists, with at least a couple of tables filled with Shanghainese-speaking businessmen) - the standard of cooking is definitely better than those I get in Singapore's Shanghainese spots (e.g. Crystal Jade Shanghai) but way behind the standards of Shanghainese dining options you'd find in Hong Kong, Taiwan and in China itself.
One brickbat - over-priced drinks: imagine charging RM18 (US$6) for a Pepsi Light, when a basket of 10 steamed "xiao long bao" costed only RM30 - that's daylight robbery in any city!
Shanghai Restaurant (上海苏浙苑)
1st Floor, JW Marriott Hotel Kuala Lumpur
183 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-2715 9000