A long line up of half-hearted, half-written drafts of abandoned and (not) forgotten blog posts await my attendance – and it doesn’t help that all I seem to want to do of late is curl up in my blissful little cocoon of a rocking chair and immerse myself in a world of literature.
Things that must be done, must be done.
And this review on Mr&Mrs Bund, must be done.
Skyscrapers now dominate the bright blue (and utterly unpolluted) Shanghai sky, dappling the streets with much relished shadows of ginormous proportions. The sheer number of sensational restaurants housed within these buildings, both new and old, made me shed a silent tear.
A brisk stroll along the bund invoked a faint nostalgic ache – not so much because I had missed the place, but rather the opposite – I was no longer able to associate myself with the grandeur and phenomenal city of Shanghai. I could no more call this place my home than any other English-babbling, blonde-haired and denim-shorts-clad tourist: I was sorely detached from the place I called home for 12 years.
However, all woes begone – drown your sorrows in good food. Food is all about relishing the moment – and Mr & Mrs Bund more than provides for that utterly enjoyable occasion.
A good restaurant would never be one without a loaf of splendid bread, delightfully crunchy on the outside, and warm and fluffy on the inside. A waitress expertly peeled back the lid of what resembled a tin can of sardines to reveal a stomach-tickling tub of light, airy, saltish-sweet-savoury-and-altogether-wonderful homemade spread – something that resonated the yummy, rich, and sinful scoop-after-scoop allure of paté, and yet possessed the airiness, delicate, fairy-like consistency of French meringue or a perfect soufflé. A rather large can of spread for a pre-appetizer treat, but once you start digging in you’ll realize there’ll never be enough.
Save some space, because this is just the tip of a very, very enormous iceberg.
Appetizers. Especially for a set lunch, the sheer number of choices on the menu astounded us and drove us insane – it was impossible to choose. My father went for the foie gras – a beautifully balanced, rich, savoury burst of flavors with just the most sensational crunchy and light raisins and hazelnuts. A beautiful dish. Heavenly. Foie gras is a bit of a guilty pleasure – with its smooth, velvety richness; one hardly thinks of the horrific fat content or the terrifying vision of a flushed-faced farmer shoving food down a poor goose’s throat when savoring and scraping that little bit of heaven off the sides of the bowl. Shush now, don’t make me feel guilty. Mom, on the other hand, picked the arugula mushroom truffle – an amazing salad that was all at once refined, homely and recognizable, yet utterly outstanding and surprisingly intense in flavor. Four thin slices of white truffle. I can still smell it, forever ingrained in the halls of fame in olfactory memory heaven. Tempted by the very thought of eggs, I chose the soft egg frisée lardon, a surprisingly acidic salad topped with two perfectly soft poached eggs and two large chunks of bacon lardon. Amazing, amazing, amazing. The acidic salad dressing was a bit too sour for my taste, but ultimately it balanced the soft, demure notes of the egg and the relentless saltiness of the bacon lardon.
My sister foolishly decided not to have appetizer. The foolish, foolish girl.
Main course. I decided to stick my foot out on a limb here and order frogs legs (legs, foot, limbs, haha- no? Okay, I’ll stop.) Best idea I’ve ever made. Frog legs, my word. These were the semblance of utmost divinity, smushed onto a plate with a drizzle of scrumptious garlic parsley coulis and shrouded in an airy mass of the holy spirit- aero mash. Dear, dear, me. Undoubtedly the best frog legs I’d ever tasted (but seeing that I’ve never tasted any, not such an achievement after all). Who would’ve known the slimy, repulsive , croaky amphibian of a creature could be so fitted to a plate? Perfectly seared, perfectly balanced, and perfectly delectable. The flesh tore effortlessly away from bone and found solace in the rich green of the coulis, and perfect balance in the cloudy aero mash. Hardly expensive either, at 100RMB ($20) on the ala carte menu.
Order. It. Now.
My father’s lamb shank was sumptuous, yummy, and utterly delightful to say the least – but then again, nothing entirely out of this world. Great taste, of course, but not entirely unparalleled or extraordinary. The same goes for the scallops my mom had – pink, tender, perfectly seared, plump, juicy and fresh. Perfectly paired with lemon and ginger. But again, nothing entirely out of the world. Still absolutely delicious and definitely, definitely worth the money though. The beef cheeks steak bordelaise was a smidge more memorable – a delicious hunk of sumptuous beef – well worth the money – but not the gastronomically mind-blowing perfection of the frog legs.
Everything was too good, the frog legs were just something of novelty, I guess. That handed it its greatest triumph.
Seeing the table adjacent to ours, the ‘ Black Cod in a Bag’ seemed pretty delicious as well. Not to mention the ‘Jumbo Shrimp in Citrus Jar’. If only I could come back here time and time again to just demolish the whole menu.
Dessert is always my favorite course (if I had the choice, dessert would be first). The ‘Lemon and Lemon Tart’ was another astounding masterpiece. Don’t be fooled by its unassuming name – it is far from your typical lemon tart. Literally a whole, candied lemon, it was perfectly stuffed with tangy lemon sorbet, smooth, creamy curd, and light chantilly cream. Topped off with a brittle, utterly unpresumptuous but delightful sablé. If this isn’t heaven, I don’t know what is. This is literally a deconstructed lemon tart, reconstructed into even more divine perfection.
The mango liquorice sablé was a yummy, delicious delight as well – but nowhere near as jaw-dropping as the lemon tart. The rum and raisin vanilla milk rice, with rice crispies and caramel bits everywhere was a scrumptious panna cotta, but again, not as great as the lemon tart. The homemade yogurt and strawberry coulis was just that; homemade yogurt and strawberry coulis (I mean, what can you expect from a simple yogurt? It can only get that good, and it was pretty astoundingly good.)
At 250RMB (S$50) for an amazing 3 course meal, or 200 RMB (S$40) for a two-course meal, it doesn’t come cheap but it’s relatively inexpensive for such gastronomically delightful food; this is worth moving back to Shanghai for.
If you happen to have a few thousand dollars lying around, you might try out Ultraviolet by the same chef Paul Pairet (but then, even then, you might not be able to book a seat).
Zhongshan East 1st Rd,
Huangpu, Shanghai, China