For us, the luxurious Shanghai Club at ITC Grand Central Mumbai has always been a standout when it comes to eating best quality Chinese food in Mumbai. This month, we have slowly started visiting our favourite restaurants in Mumbai, but given the circumstances that we all are in, we are choosy. We were indeed happy to know that Shanghai Club reopened around 10 days ago. As all ITC hotels follow strict safety and hygiene standards (#WeAssure), we were quite sure that Shanghai Club at ITC Grand Central will be very safe even in Corona times. And as we guessed, right from the moment we stepped in, we were very impressed with the safety protocols that are followed by the chefs and the whole staff there.
And of course, the ambience of Shanghai Club is something to experience for. With soft, relaxing Asian music playing in the backdrop, the dramatic lighting makes the luxurious Shanghai Club a perfect place to chill out and enjoy your Chinese meal at leisure. A comfortable setting to unwind with hot Jasmine tea by your side, you might feel that the place is therapeutically calming. Yes, every time we visit Shanghai Club, before or after Corona time, we felt this. And when you are relaxed and happy, your overall food experience at a restaurant goes to the next level even before tasing the food. By the way, Chef Swanand Thipsay will ensure that you get the best Chinese food experience ever. You will be spoilt for choices, as there is a wide variety of authentic Chinese dishes to choose from various provinces of China. Choose from the dishes from Sichuan, Beijing, Hunan, Canton and Shanghai. Good portions and fresh ingredients do make a lot of difference.
Here, each crockery undergoes sanitization two times before it gets packed in neat paper bags and placed on a sanitized table. Even the table napkins are sanitized and wrapped in paper. There is a sanitizer on each table and the chefs and servers ensure contactless delivery as much as possible. So, the hygiene standards are bound to assure even the most finicky diner like me. That’s what ITC Hotels’ promise called #WeAssure is all about!
We started off with the mocktails. The drink called Twisted was a medley of orange juice, apple juice, cranberry juice and lime. The colour was that of the setting sun and the flavour was refreshing enough to look forward to a wonderful meal ahead.
Next came Passionfruit Collins: another enchanting non-alcoholic drink with passion fruit, apple juice and lime. It was very good, but I was expecting a bit more of sourness in this.
The Huang You Tang (Chilli Butter Soup with crabs) was comforting and just the right thing to start the meal with. Tiny pieces of zucchini, onions, carrots, mushrooms and crabs makes this sour and bit spicy soup just right for the Indian palate as well. If you don’t like crabs, then the chef will do it with meat, other seafood or vegetables.
The appetizers at Shanghai Club are mind-blowing. Every time I taste the appetizers here, I feel like I should visit them more often. There were three kinds of appetizers served to us from three different provinces of China. Each one had a distinct flavour due to distinct use of sauces and techniques. The Hunan dish called Guiyang Xia (Crispy Prawns in Guiyang Style sauce, cooked with chillies, coriander and onions) is gorgeous. Not only is the quantity enough for two, but the plump prawns married in a finger-licking, deep-coloured Guiyang sauce are a pleasure to eat.
Then came Pork Chops with BBQ Sauce, called Char Sui Rou Pai. Both AN and I are a big fan of these Cantonese-style pork chops: so, we really liked this dish. The BBQ sauce was on the sweeter side, the flavour common in Chinese and Hong Kong restaurants. Generously smeared with the brown BBQ sauce, the flavour also worked as a palate cleanser to the “bomb” that followed next. The dish of the day was the third appetizer. Sliced Pork with Chilli Bean Sauce was just perfect. Readers, please do try this dish and thank me later!
The Shanghai Club served us a very satisfying rice dish that day. This Cantonese dish called Caijiao Jinsuan Chao Fan (Burnt Garlic Rice with Chilli and Capsicum) was yum in itself. I could eat it just like that, as I specially liked the crunchy surprise of burnt garlic in each morsel. So good!
Hongshao Yangrou (Beijing Style Braised Diced Lamb in Chilli Sauce) had a sweet and spicy sauce to die for: no words to describe how well it went with the Burnt Garlic Rice! The occasional presence of mushrooms in the dish was such a great ingredient to add on to the umami factor! The portion was more than enough for two people.
Both AN and I loved the Hunan dish called Luole Hongzunyu (Red Snapper in Hot Basil Sauce), which can be had both as an appetizer as well as a main course dish. The fish fillets were firm and juicy and the seafood quality was of the prime level. The Sauce was exactly how we expected it to be: well-balanced and rich in flavour. Oozing with the perfect combination of sweet, sour and spicy notes, we totally loved it.
We skipped the desserts this time, although there were some very interesting options.
Overall, it was a fantastic experience at Shanghai Club at ITC Grand Central. Each dish was made with care and expertise. Shanghai Club is definitely a restaurant which didn’t lose its charm even in these tough times of pandemic. In fact, the flavour and the safety standards have improved even more!