We have always loved ITC’s restaurants, but this was my first time at Shanghai Club. It was a rainy Saturday afternoon in Mumbai, and all we craved for was authentic Chinese fare. Yes, as far as Oriental food is concerned, there are many options in Mumbai, but after tasting the food at Shanghai Club in ITC Grand Central, I can tell you that this Chinese restaurant is easily among the best. The revamped Chinese menu is planned in a very thoughtful way, where the menu is divided region-wise. The menu is classified into Sichuan, Hunan, Beijing, Shanghai and Canton cuisines, with a host of delectable dishes under each region. Wooing Shanghai Club’s patrons with a plethora of Chinese dishes, the Chinese Masterchef Yuanzhong Jia gives his homegrown cuisine a new height with his precision and panache. He explains that mostly people assume that Sichuan cuisine is the spiciest, but it is the Hunan cuisine which is even hotter than Sichuan. The food at Shanghai Club is straightforward and generous. We love it. In fact, Shanghai Club is our new Chinese favourite. For us, it isn’t the typical Indo-Chinese, but the real Chinese food that leaves a mark.
With over 24 years’ experience in China and other countries, Chef Jia has been serving of ITC Grand Central for over five years now. Chef Jia specialises in various cuisines of China. Chef Sameer Gupta, the Junior Sous Chef at Shanghai Club, compliments Chef Jia perfectly. Chef Sameer is thoroughly knowledgeable and confident as far as Chinese cuisine is concerned and explains us about the nuances of each dish, along with its province of origin. A Graduate from the Culinary Academy of India, Hyderabad, he has worked with prominent hospitality brands.
Sipping a relaxing cup of Jasmine tea, we sat by the window and glanced at the menu. Each dish is described well and there is something for every palate. The first dish to appear on the table is Xihu Tang. It is a vegetable broth from the Zhejiang province of China. Humble flavours of silken tofu come together in a light soup with vegetables.
Most dishes are generously portioned. The highlight of our meal was the Lobster. Jiaoyan Longxia is a sophisticated dish of plump lobster chunks batter-fried and served in a grand manner with Sichuan peppers. The dish is perfect for two people and thankfully, isn’t quite spicy. While you are at Seafood, do check out ITC’s “Choose Wisely” programme, for which the chef will happily give you more details there.
The Hejiao Jiding, a chicken-based dish from Beijing, is a flavourful stir-fry spiked with freshly crushed black peppers served in a sauce that just makes the dish so moreish.
The Cola Ji is rather a funny name. But the dish is outstanding in terms of flavour. Served in a claypot, succulent pieces of chicken are braised with mushrooms in a finger-licking Barbeque Sauce. This Cantonese dish is seriously class apart.
The main-course dishes came with a Shanghai-style Stir-Fried Flat Rice Noodles with Pokchoi and Vegetables and Chef Jia’s special Basil Fried Rice. We loved the Hongsaho Yu, one of the dishes from Beijing. Hongsaho Yu is a dish in which pieces of red snapper are slightly batter-fried (to retain shape) and served in a sauce of black mushrooms and Beijing-style chilli sauce. The aroma and the flavour profile of black mushrooms and bamboo shoots elevates the dish for sure.
A vegetarian Cantonese masterpiece, the Xing Xing Doufu, is just a flavour bomb! The dish has a cashew and tofu stuffing, served in a chef-secret Cantonese sauce. There are many interesting vegetarian dishes that are worth trying. For instance, the Huoguo Shisu is Chinese stir-fried greens with pickled chillies or the Ganbian Helandou is Yacai and snow beans tossed in chillies and garlic.
We also tried a Sliced-pork dish, that is made on request, as we love pork. The dish was oozing with the flavour of great-quality pork and the sauce had an all-round flavour that lingered in the mouth happily.
The Chocolate Five Spice Cake is very well made. We never had Chinese five spice paired with chocolate, and this is a welcome change. What a great way to end a Chinese meal!
At Shanghai Club, they are not trying to reinvent the wheel, but the kind of oriental dishes that these amazing chefs churn up, smells of tradition and tastes at its best. This is the place to drag your friends to! It is the best place to go with four to six people or even a bigger gang and order different kinds of dishes from each province, so that one gets to eat a portion of everything. The unpretentious atmosphere over there is a perfect place to unwind with your family, while the chefs at Shanghai Club present you a flavour heaven!
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