Tried & Tested

Restaurant Check: 100 Century Avenue at Park Hyatt Shanghai

4 Mar 2009

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: This is the world’s highest restaurant: an ear-popping elevator whisks diners to the 91st floor, where the views of vast, sprawling Shanghai are flat-out spectacular. Design-wise, the restaurant is a never-ending feast of details, from soaring interior canyons flanked by floor-to-ceiling windows, to classy place settings, crystal glassware and beautiful, butter-soft leather seats.

The atmosphere is very re nao (action packed), thanks to the open show-kitchens that feature sizzling meat grills, red-hot duck-roasting ovens, blazing woks, steaming baskets of dumplings and similar other high-energy cookery.

THE FOOD: 100 Century Avenue does not stress fancy fusions or wacky culinary creations; instead, it takes über-fresh ingredients and prepares them in traditional ways. Oysters from the Pacific Northwest are served raw; beef and lamb from Australia are grilled or roasted; fresh fish from Japan is sliced into sashimi or squeezed into sushi, and lobsters and garoupa are steamed in Cantonese style.

The oysters were a highlight, salty and savoury and smacking of the open ocean, and the Drunken Chicken was another delight, boneless and tender and soaked in 10-year-old shaoxing rice wine. And the rum baba, a French sponge cake soaked in sweet rum and topped with whipped cream and marinated fruit, was sweet
and memorable.

DRINKS: With 750 wine labels, dozens of designer cocktails and 200 kinds of Scotch whisky, there is something here for everyone to sip. Upstairs from the restaurant is a spacious bar with a live jazz band, lovely sculptures and sweeping views of Shanghai – perfect for a nightcap.

SERVICE: Every raised forefinger quickly attracted a friendly English-speaking server, and knives, forks, chopsticks, wasabi, lemon juice and wine glasses appeared swiftly and silently.

PRICES: The set lunch is priced from CNY180 (US$26.50), while an à-la-carte dinner for two, with modest drinks, would range from about CNY1,000 ($150). The 91st-floor bar offers a two-for-one special on drinks every day from 1400 to 1800, while the spectacular views are free of charge.

VERDICT: Fine honest food.

CONTACT: 91st Floor, Park Hyatt Shanghai, 100 Century Avenue, Pudong, Shanghai, China, tel 86 21 6888 1234, www.hyatt.com. Lunch is from 1100 to 1430; dinner from 1800 to 2230.

Brent Hannon

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