The list of fancy restaurants in the city is growing. Delicious food delightfully presented in a glamorous venue has become basic and chefs from around the world compete to offer.
It isn’t difficult to get a great meal if cost isn’t an issue. When there is a budget, the list instantly gets much shorter and that’s when a lunch set becomes a desirable alternative.
Shanghai Daily hand-picks four venues — Italian, Chinese, Japanese and steakhouse — that are excellent lunch options in four busy areas.
Each has an attractive environment, a good wine selection, nice service that’s neither hovering nor indifferent, and a few very impressive dishes on top of a generally excellent a la carte menu.
At dinner, the ambience in all venues is striking, and at lunchtime, it’s pleasantly informal. The lunch menus offer a range of options with a lower price, while maintaining high, a la carte quality.
HYH Chinese Restaurant
This is one of a few restaurants set inside a park. The Xujiahui Park, built in 2000, was designed with the idea of combining what’s left of old houses and factory facilities with a variety of seasonal and perennial plants. Visitors are also attracted to the park by the two swans that reside in one of the ponds.
The restaurant is in a two-story house, dominated by large windows, and suggesting a crystal palace inside the park. Views are good from both indoor and outdoor seats.
The roast young pigeon, a classic Cantonese dish, is impressive with very juicy meat and utterly crispy skins. It is steamed first and soaked in sweet-and-sour sauce before getting roasted to seal in the juice.
Many other signature Cantonese dishes are delicious and often contain expensive ingredients such as shark’s fin, but the restaurant offers 50-percent discount on the dim sum menu for weekday lunches (with the exception of public holidays).
The dim sum menu offers a range of dishes and tastes. Cost is around 100 yuan per person. The fried shrimp roll with almond is a must-order with an exceptionally crispy outside. The steamed shrimp and shark’s fin dumpling is another specialty not seen elsewhere.
Address: 290 Wanping Rd
10 Corso Como
In September, the trendy Italian boutique opened its Shanghai branch, which combines fashion, culture, shopping and dining.
The top floor, the fifth, is half exhibition space and books and half restaurant and bar.
The Italian restaurant is in tune with the stylish and innovative shopping venue. Natural light from large windows complements and enhances the creative, minimalist design that plays with geometric shapes.
And the chef, Corrado Michelazzo, maintains a young person’s playfulness with the mature culinary skills. Fried calamari, a classic dish, is often overlooked, while not all Italian restaurants can deliver a good balance of juicy and tender inside and crispy outside. Micelazzo makes it just right.
And with foie gras, the chef presents a dish that contains two kinds divided beautifully with a line of bright-colored cherry mousse in the middle. A red wine sauce and jelly goes well with the cherries.
While signature dishes such as this remain on the menu, new items are continuously added in a rotation.
The lunch set menu also changes regularly and offers good value, with an appetizer and pasta/main course (drink included) for 178 yuan, and an additional of two desserts to pick from for another 38 yuan. For 298 yuan, you can get a set of starter, pasta, main course and dessert (drink included).
It is always tempting to pick the set without the cake and order a larger piece from the a la carte menu because all the cakes offer fresh, multi-layered texture and flavor, using fruits, ice creams and sauces.
The Mille-feuille Mascarpone mousse with raspberry ice cream is inspirational, balancing the sweet mousse and slightly sour raspberry.
Address: 1717 Nanjing Rd W.
Sun with Aqua Japanese Dining
The four-story No. 6 on the Bund, built in 1897, once housed the Imperial Bank of China, the first Chinese-owned modern bank. Today, its second floor has been designed with elements of Japanese gardens, including a pond with carefully arranged rocks that cast intriguing shadows.
Sun with Aqua Japanese Dining is always crowded at lunch. The 20-some choices cover almost all areas of Japanese cuisine, including sushi, sashimi, sukiyaki, teriyaki, and noodles, among others. Unlike typical Japanese offering, the portions are sizeable and most sets are just over 100 yuan.
The grilled eel and soft boiled egg on seasoned steamed rice is a favorite that contains miso soup, a small dish of salted vegetable, some steamed appetizers, two kinds of sashimi and the steamed rice inside a pot.
The pot can be open when the sand in the small hourglass on top of the cover is all gone — and diners behold the sight of large slices of dark red grilled eel on top of green bean sauce. It’s seasoned with fragrant sesame, and a soft boiled egg makes the flavors and texture more sophisticated once it is broken and mixed into the rice.
The Tokyo Komachi Bento Box is a must-order for those who wants to have a taste of everything. The bento box offers eight classics, including sashimi, tofu, mushroom, fried roll, grilled eel, and sushi, in addition to a small bowl of udon and tempura.
Address: 2/F, 6 Zhongshan Rd E1
Morton’s is always atop the to-go list of all meat lovers. The quality of the steak is consistent, while the salmon steak and bread are surprisingly tasty for a steak house.
The Pudong branch inside IFC is convenient for those who work in Lujiazui and need to fuel up before delving into hard work in the afternoon.
Almost all of the restaurant’s most-order dishes are available in the lunch menu, priced at 218 and 318 yuan, a bargain considering the size and quality of the meat.