Blurb: Delhi’s first foray into Modern Chinese
Atmospherics: Shang Palace is the signature Chinese restaurant of the Shangri-La world-wide. The de facto cuisine of all the branches is modern Cantonese. In the case of Delhi, a smattering of Yunnan and Sichuan has been added, so that, though the template is Cantonese, die-hard fans of spicy food can order a complete meal. Likewise, though there has been the inclusion of modern Chinese dishes in the menu, those who are looking for traditional food can have it to their heart’s content. Full marks for a space on the ground floor, overlooking the hotel’s lush gardens, that is a masterful recreation of contemporary China. One of the private dining rooms has one wall made entirely with reproductions of ancient coins, but the table settings with the charming blue and white crockery with the geometric designs on them are totally modern.
Table talk: Do not miss the shrimp roll with soya (Rs 688) which is actually cheung fan, made with a high degree of expertise, so that the wrapper does not come apart from the shrimps. Spit roasted cumin and dry chilli lamb (Rs 588 for 2 skewers) is served on a tiny hibachi-like device and has never been done before in Delhi, though, with cumin, chilli and salt, it is made for our palate. All over China, dining is a dynamic activity, with diners serving themselves and each other, and heating meats at the table themselves. Sauna prawns (Rs 788 for five medium sized pieces) has to be cooked at the table in a remarkable replica of a sauna tub, complete with hot stones at the base. You pop the already marinated prawns in the ‘sauna’, sprinkle some Shaoxing wine over it and wait for a few minutes for the prawns to cook. Crispy chicken with dry chilli (Rs 748) is Chongqing chicken by another name: morsels of chicken deep fried in chilli oil with Sichuan peppers for good measure. The barbecue section of the menu is where many of the stars shine. Beijing roast duck (Rs 2188/3488 half/full) is the one dish that is certain to catapult the restaurant into fame: the flesh is moist and flavourful and the skin is crisp and delicious.
Plus and minus: Vegetables have been glorified: potatoes, aubergine, okra and French beans appear in various dishes. However, aubergine has been cooked in a crowd-pleasing desi style, full of chilli and garlic.
Must try: Crossing the bridge Yunnan noodle soup, honey glazed barbecue pork, signature sizzling lobster mapo tofu
Ratings: Food: 4.00, Décor: 4.00, Service: 4.00
19 Ashoka Road
Open from 12.0 to 3 pm and 7.30 to 11.30 pm
Meal for two: Rs 5,000