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Shanghai - Fu 1088 - long review

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Restaurants & Bars

Shanghai - Fu 1088 - long review

buttertart | Mar 26, 2008 07:28 AM

Thanks natalexander for tipping us off to this place in your recent post: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/496186 (although I disagree strongly with you in regard to food in Suzhou, on which more later).
(See also http://www.shmag.cn/review/privilege_0 for general description of the place - this review did not prepare me for one of my best restaurant experiences ever).
We booked a table for 2 at 8 pm last Thursday, the second-to-last day of our trip of 9 days. We were informed upon booking that the minimum charge per person is RMB 300 (USD 43.00).
The restaurant is in an old mansion in the former French Concession (old, lowrise Shanghai).
After being greeted at the door we were shown upstairs and into a private room - this was a complete and utterly delightful surprise.
It had apparently been a boudoir, had rose-sprigged wallpaper, an original art deco overhead light fixture, dressing table with mirror, blue velvet upholstered side and dining chairs, etc.
A long table awaited, set with white linens, blue and white flowered china, crystal wineglasses.
Bilingual menus were presented by charming young waiters with functional English (we are not Chinese although we speak and read it, so were addressed initially in English).
Dishes all sounded intriguing...after considerable thought ordered the following (fairly conservative choices, given what was on offer, looking forward to another stab at the menu next time):
Appetizers:
Tofu skin with walnuts - chilled thin slices of a compressed loaf of tofu skin - not strips of bai ye as expected - in which walnuts had been embedded, and which had been presumably braised in a savory liquid including soy and something a bit marine - dried shrimp? scallops?. Delicious and unusual.
Braised beef shank in spicy sauce - warm thin slices of fairly chewy - in a good way -beef shank, in a sauce of hot pepper, soy, and sesame paste. Also delicious.
Main courses:
Their version of shizitou (lion's head) - large and very light pork meatballs with a high proportion of water chestnuts in tiny cubes in them, in a clear and very flavorful stock with a slice of cabbage stem, served individually in covered soup bowls. A knockout dish.
Sliced chicken with sour apples - stirfried strips of marinated chicken thigh with thin slices of Granny Smith apple, with ginger/garlic/scallion, sprinkled with sesame seeds. Great combination of flavors and textures.
Deepfried yellow fish fingers with seaweed (tai tiao yu tiao) - a favorite of long standing, this was perfectly executed, crisp outside, meltingly tender inside.
Spring bamboo shoots braised in dark soy, with small Shanghai cabbages (cai xin) - delightful to have fresh bamboo shoots in one's mouth again.
Were unfortunately too full for dessert (although the dessert menu was also very tempting and unusual) - slices of watermelon accompanied by enormous and utterly wonderful black grapes were provided at the end of the meal.
Service was excellent throughout the meal - dishes presented individually, the door being kept closed and the waiters knocking discreetly prior to entering...
This, with a bottle of Australian Shiraz (RMB 380) and 2 Perriers, came to RMB 760 - appx USD 109.00. An astonishing value.

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