Spring cooking is all about bringing out the flavors of fresh seasonal ingredients. Compared to the heavier, richer dishes that many crave in winter, spring menus are on the lighter side and emphasize natural flavors to ignite the taste buds. From bamboo shoots to sweet peas, the gifts that spring brings to the dining table are not to be missed.
Xindalu – China Kitchen, Hyatt on the Bund
The acclaimed Chinese restaurant Xindalu is offering a spring menu oriented around fresh seasonal ingredients. One must-try appetizer is the refreshing threelayer “cake” with fresh bean curd, Chinese toon sprouts and crab meat. The unique aroma of the sprouts is complimented by the soft tofu and sweet crab meat.
Chef de cuisine Du Caiqing uses salt to cure the sprouts and minimize the ordinarily sharp taste of the vegetable. Shredded zucchini marinated in sesame oil, vinegar and soy sauce is a perfect dish to go with the spicy bass and bean curd dish flavored with fresh Sichuan pepper. Bamboo shoots sautéed with sweet peas and prawn roe as well as wok-fried bamboo shoots, preserved salted pork belly and fiddlehead sprout are two dishes that use the umami taste from meat ingredients to bring unique flavors to seasonal vegetables.
The egg omelet with Chinese toon sprout and shrimp is also recommended. For dessert, the steamed rice cake with raisin is a good way to finish a meal along with a pot of Chinese tea.
Tel: 6393-1234 ext 6318
Address: 199 Huangpu Rd
Si Ji Xuan Restaurant – Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai
This April, the Chinese restaurant Si Ji Xuan is taking guests on a gastronomical journey along the Yangtze River with fresh herring, catfish and wild crucian carp paired with seasonal vegetables.
“The fish in April are getting rich and meaty. It’s the best time to eat fresh fish. We cook in a simple way to keep the original flavors,” said chef Wayne Wang, “and we have specially selected some wild seasonal green vegetables to pair with the fresh fish from the Yangtze River.” The spring menu is available until April 30.
Address: 500 Weihai Rd
Spectrum Chinese Restaurant – Grand Millennium Shanghai Hongqiao
Chef Louis Lui has prepared a spring menu that highlights lobster, an ingredient that can be prepared in both rich and light ways.
This menu features dishes such as matsutake lobster soup, Thai curry lobster, garlic lobster, cheese butter lobster and Sichuan spicy lobster. The lobster is 78 yuan (US$12) per half, while the set menu for two is 348 yuan plus service charge.
Tel: 6208-5888 ext 72203
Address: 2588 Yan’an Rd W.
Hai Pai – Andaz Xintiandi, Shanghai
This spring, Hai Pai restaurant is greeting the season with a menu of Shanghainese favorites made with fresh seasonal ingredients. Chef de cuisine Eric Gao has put the focus on local produce, incorporating ingredients into traditional home-style dishes with new twists.
This limited time offering includes dishes such as pork shank jelly with soybean, sweet and sour Chinese yam with preserved plum, spicy beef shank, beef stripe and ox tongue as well as wok-fried bean curd with salted pork, soybean pancake and dried shrimp.
Double-boiled salted pork, egg dumpling, dried bean curd pottage is a delicious soup that will both delight first time diners and rekindle memories for local Shanghainese.
“Many of these dishes are based on green vegetables, so there are a lot of lively and fresh flavors in the dishes,” said Jacqueline Qiu, executive chef at the Andaz Xintiandi Shanghai. Dishes start from 48 yuan (US$7.41) and are available all day long.
Address: 88 Songshan Rd
Twelve Hengshan – Twelve at Hengshan, a Luxury Collection Hotel Executive
Executive Chinese chef James Peng recommends two spring dishes from the seasonal menu at Twelve Hengshan. The first is sweetened bird’s nest soup with boiled shrimp and honeydew melon. This satisfying treat makes a sweet start to any meal.
Second is braised carrots, mushrooms, bamboo fungus and asparagus. This fresh seasonal medley brings together the tastiest seasonal produce into a single light dish. The Chinese restaurant Twelve Hengshan features a hand-painted mural across the length of the main dining room that depicts a traditional Suzhou garden scene.
Rose-glass screens and porcelain chandeliers add a touch of the Orient. There are also eight private dining suites, each with their own layout and seating for between eight and 16 people.
Address: 12 Hengshan Rd
Nadaman – Pudong Shangri-La, East Shanghai
The restaurant led by chef Tsuyoshi Motoyama is offering a new tasting menu that puts an exciting contemporary twist on traditional Japanese cuisine. The nine-course menu features seasonal ingredients prepared according to the Kaiseki tradition, but with a modern Tokyo touch.
The menu is 688 yuan (US$106.30) per person. The price is subject to a 15 percent service charge and any government taxes and value-added tax (where applicable) payable on the price together with the service charge.
Tel: 6882-8888 ext 6888
Address: 33 Fucheng Rd
Dragon Phoenix – Fairmont Peace Hotel
In honor of spring, Shanghainese master chef Ma Haocheng has created a menu of special dishes that diners can enjoy until May.
Taste the city’s culinary history with deep-fried shrimps with soy sauce and minced garlic, steamed coilia fish with premier soy sauce, and Shanghai style hot pot soup with salty pork belly, tofu and spring bamboo — just to name a few.
Shanghainese spring dishes are perfect for sharing, with family and friends traditionally coming together over a meal to celebrate the return of warmer weather.