There is something about the Bund that gives Shanghai a special feel, like catching a glimpse of the Eiffel tower in Paris or walking on the Brooklyn bridge with the Manhattan skyline in plain view.
During my stay in Shanghai, I just kept going back for a stroll on the Bund and I decided to find a place to eat on the Bund. The restaurant Jean-Georges located at No 3 in the Union Building immediately caught my attention.
Jean-Georges Shanghai is the creation of the chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten who’s New York restaurants received every honors imaginable. I’ve never been to his restaurant in New York, but I would not miss a chance to eat at his Shanghai restaurant. Eating in a French restaurant in China might sound weird, but chef Vongerichten is famous for his Asian fusion food, so why not?
I made a reservation in person for a Saturday lunch and I was impress by the look of the place. Gold, dark and mysterious. I already decided to eat the lunch tasting menu which is relatively cheap when you compare it to the dinner menu. I am a foodie, but I am not a rich foodie…
I only drank a coffee and ate a croissant for breakfast and arrived at Jean-Georges half starved. Like I said, the entrance of the restaurant is very dark, but I was led to a beautiful dinning room bathed in light.
The dinning room is located in the front of the building and I was given a table with a beautiful view of the Bund. The hostess handed me the menu and a magazine (I was eating alone). The magazine turned out to be written is Flemish, I am white, but I am not from Belgium!
Every time I eat in an expensive restaurant, I get these flashback of the horrible famine that struck Ethiopia with “We are the World” playing in the background. I guess it’s my foodie conscience giving me a kick under the table.
“We are the World” faded into some boisterous symphony as soon as my appetizer of foie gras was laid in front of me. Foie gras on brioche with cherries, pistachio and wine gel. I am not gonna make myself friends in the vegetarian community, but I really enjoy foie gras. This was my reward for eating school lunch almost everyday of the year.
After the foie gras came the asparagus to give my palate a taste of nature complemented by a rich morel sauce. Simplicity definitely has a charm in these quarter.
The sea bass with olive, corn and capers came next. Nice piece of pan fried fish with the skin perfectly crisp. Pan fried fish is not common in Japan, reminded me of my mom’s cooking. The corn was great, but I expected something else. I really appreciated the contrast between the olive and the sea bass.
The next cloche uncovered the meat course, a steak with lightly stewed tomatoes and crispy potatoes with skin. The meat was perfect and the crisp potato had a great texture.
After my last sip of wine, Jean-Georges offered me it’s coup de grace with the dessert. The dessert was actually made out of 4 tiny desserts. A cold chocolate drink, a fondant, a lemon jelly and a small cake. 4 desserts or 4 ways to quickly get fatter, I couldn’t care less at that precise moment. After eating a dessert like this, I truly worship pastry chefs for mastering the alchemy of pleasure.
I was happy to be eating a alone, discovering each taste in a quasi monastical silence. The only thing breaking the silence was the French music playing softly. I might have been the only one to get a kick listening to Boris Vian.
Jean-Georges is definitely a place to visit on a trip to Shanghai. I only have fond memories and feel sorry I didn’t have the money to splurge on one of the crazy night menu.
I can now only wish to travel back to the source of all that goodness and eat at the original Jean-Georges in New York. Who knows when I will be back in NYC?