Friday, March 23, 2012
Table No 1 is a restaurant by Jason Atherton, who is said to visit once a week.
I was at the KKFood Fest closing ceremony last week and an Italian chef asked if I've eaten at Mr & Mrs Bund, probably the most famous western restaurant in Shanghai. I hesistated to reply. How do I tell him that I passed up the chance to eat at Mr & Mrs Bund because I wasn't feeling very presentable (red nose, wrinkly skin, same grey top and jeans for one week). He spent the next 5 minutes telling me about the food at Mr & Mrs Bund, his eyes shining as he spoke and I could see in my mind the food he was describing. He is a top chef in a 5-star hotel restaurant in KK yet he sounded like a little boy in a candy store. I suddenly wished that I had eaten at Mr & Mrs Bund.
But I made it to Table No. 1 instead and I am not sorry because I wanted to eat there ever since my daughter posted on her meal there. It must be our Malaysian luck because it was Restaurant Week in SH, and Table No 1 was having lunch deals at RMB115/MYR58/USD19 per person for a 3-course meal! They only had tables for lunch, so Yi grabbed the table for the third day of our trip. I've found that it's best to make restaurant bookings in SH. It's a city of 27 million people, most of them well-heeled it seems.
The restaurant is out near The Bund or Waitan in Mandarin, wai meaning outside tan meaning coast, seaside, beach. Yi's office is just 10 minutes' walk away. It was our first lunch with her in SH. We had dropped in to visit her in SH without notice and she was so busy we only saw her at night, when she came back from work nearly midnight. She was busy into her next project, a portrait of another famous Chinese.
She ran into the restaurant, late as usual, strands of hair all over her face. We were early to the restaurant and the locals hadn't come in yet. Most who were there were tourists and expats, obvious from the languages spoken and the amount of photos taken around the building. Table No 1 is the restaurant in The Waterhouse, a chic, modern boutique hotel that I can't afford to stay in.
I've looked forward to the day when my girl would be making enough money to treat us to a pleasant restaurant so this was an extra special lunch because this was it, Yi was paying. Lucky for her, we passed on the wine and ordered the special promotion lunch. The regular menu can be pricey. There's a special steak for RMB988. Maybe 5 years from now.
Table No 1 is casual, just the way I like it but the waiters are always watching.
How pretty is that! Yi's starter of salmon tartare with cucumber, quail eggs, radish and the tiniest little white radishes (not seen in photo) I've ever seen. Very light and refreshing but too small a portion.
Hub's starter, ham hock and foie gras terrine. Very nice and delicate but I have to admit that I prefer foie gras in its original state, not pated ot terrined. I want whole foie gras!
My starter of wild mushrooms a la greque, whatever that is, was yummy too.
Yi ordered a little crate of bread and rolls, RMB48/MYR24/USD8. The bread was served with butter, pesto (not as good as mine) and solid lard! Yi's friend Chris and his dad refused to try the lard when they ate there half a year back. I dug into it.
What do you know, there was pork floss inside!
Not ordinary pork floss, but superb, gorgeous pork that was so flavorful and yummy that I couldn't stop eating it. Wish I can make that spread.
Yi's slow cooked duck legs and hearts in mushroom-spiced sauce.
"What's this, ma?!"
"Give it to dad, he eats anything." (I was like "ew" too but didn't want them to know)
Dad ate the heart.
My roast young chicken was beautiful but a bit bland and dry. Came with a bowl of yummy fries.
I love how the photos turned out. I've learnt something: eat lunch if you want to take good food photos. And oh, sit next to the window, or the seat that gets the most light. The lighting in the restaurant was so perfect for photos that all the photos you see here are untouched, no contrasting or sharpening or whatever.
Hub's seared sea bass with apricot soy. Nice, as nice as any good fish dish although it was a little overcooked.
"EW! More hearts under the musrooms!"
"Ok, just give your dish to me. You can have my chicken."
Now, I had to eat at least one heart just to show I'm not chicken (or duck) and that as a foodie, I can eat most things. The heart was nice and tender, really quite tasty. The duck, oh the duck, was just perfect. Very tender, falling off the bone, succulent, flavorful and tasty. Best main of the three.
This was my first Eton Mess and I felt a little bit let down. It was too neat and pretty. Come on, it should look messy! But you know what, this was seriously good. Yi and I were oohhing and ahhing over this. The meringue was super light, melt-in-the-mouth, not too sweet, and the raspberries and cream just made this one of the best desserts ever.
Hub's lemon something. It was very good, unbelievably lemony--the curd, the cake, the cream--but it was the size of a tablespoon.
My orange cake came with a very crisp piece of orange which I loved.
Syrup-soaked cakes aren't my fave but this was still pleasurable to eat.
It was such a wonderful surprise to come to the last page in a magazine (City Weekend, a magazine for expats in SH) and read an article about my own daughter. Surreal. She was sitting in front of me, licking her spoon and plate, strands of hair sticking out here and there. I told her she needed moisturizer and a facial. Hub took a real ugly photo of me. I shut up.