Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dim Sum at Shang Palace

Shang Palace is an upscale Chinese restaurant on the second floor of the Shangri-La Hotel. The Shangri-La also houses Cafe Z, which I visited last year. The hotel is also home to Mooney's, an Irish pub which is a lot of fun in the evenings when their house band is playing and is bound to be one of the main local gathering spots for World Cup games. Shang Palace is not as popular as the other two places, but when I saw they had a dim sum brunch special I had to check it out.

I was expecting buffet style, but you get a check off menu which lists all the items in simplified Chinese and English. There are over 70 choices, from several types of congee to steamed and fried dishes, local snacks like dan dan noodles, and vegetables.

Cha shao bao, the baked style, came as small tender buns filled with a tangy dark red sauce and just a little pork. Good, but would be better with more meat inside the bao.

Pork liver rice roll. The liver had that heavy metal thing happening that you always get with the liver of a large animal, and the cilantro in it emphasized the heaviness. It was tender and chewy though. Liked it a lot, but would probably try some of the other kinds of rice rolls next time.

Bok choi heart in superior soup (上汤). The veg was a little tired looking; I would ask for gai lan or something else next time. There was nothing 'shang' about the 'tang' either, unfortunately. The soup's colour was nice but the flavour was too bland and the texture was like it had been thickened with starch.

A very nice shrimp dumpling, with ten pleats. Small, crunchy pieces of bamboo shoot complemented the shrimp well.

After finishing the main dishes I waited again, for several minutes, for dessert. I actually enjoy a leisurely paced serving style, but the dishes arrived much more slowly than they do at a typical dim sum place and some of the other customers were getting antsy.

Steamed salted egg yolk layer cake with coconut. Fantastic, rich, gorgeous. I am glad I didn't just order the egg yolk buns everyone else was eating.

The servers were working hard but were a little disorganized. I was also surprised that many of them lacked English ability. (You can't expect English in Chengdu, even at nicer hotels, but other staff I'd met at this one were always eager and able to converse with customers in English. A server did come up and graciously apologize in English for the delay at one point.)

The restaurant is elegant without being stuffy, comfortable, and best of all non-smoking. Most customers were in business or street casual clothes.


Address: Shang Palace, 2nd Floor Shangri-La Hotel, 9 Binjiang Dong Road
香宫, 香格里拉大酒店 2楼, 中国成都市滨江东路9号

According to their website the dim sum special runs til the end of July: Monday to Friday from 11:30 to 2:00; weekends and holidays from 9:00. The brunch comes to 70 yuan and change per person once you include the service charge, which is decent value. Chrysanthemum tea is included.

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