[Shanghai] Bon Vivant 宝万坊: Asian-Inspired French Fine Dining in Shanghai
Categories: French, Fusion, Fine dining
Address: 222 Middle Huaihai Rd, Lippo Plaza, 3/F, 303A, near Songshan Rd（淮海中路222号力宝广场3楼303A, 近嵩山路)
Hours: Monday-Sunday 10:00am – Midnight
Date visited: August 23, 2013
Price: 1164RMB for two (dinner) // 6-course prix-fixe dinner (including coffee & tea)
Verdict: Go make a reservation now. I strongly recommend it.
This was my last dinner in in Asia this summer and certainly one of the best.
A contemporary Asian-inspired French restaurant, Bon Vivant was founded by one of Singapore’s most internationally-known celebrity chefs, Justin Quek (郭文秀). He's been classically trained at some of the best kitchens in France and England during the early '90s and became the first Singaporean to be appointed personal chef at the French Embassy in Singapore in 1992. He was the man who brought Singaporean restaurant Les Amis to great fame and the first recipient to receive Chef of the Year award from World Gourmet Summit Awards of Excellence.
Unlike Quek’s more grandiose endeavors in Singapore (Sky on 57 at the Marina Bay Sands hotel) and Taiwan (Justin’s Signature and Just in Bistro & Wine Bar), Bon Vivant is a small and quietly hidden space on the top floor of a luxury mall. The immaculately prepared and experimental French gourmet here makes this one of the finest restaurants in Shanghai. I'll definitely be coming back when I return to Shanghai again.
First course: JQ’s signature truffle foie gras xiao long bao, one piece [招牌鹅肝松露小笼]
Oh yes. That’s right. It tasted as heavenly as it sounds. Wrapped in a blanket of truffle oil, the foie gras was buttery rich but not overpowering. The combination was surprisingly not as heavy or greasy as I would have imagined. The skin, delicately thin, was firm yet soft in texture. This is street food turned extravagant and perfect fusion of the East and West.
Second course: Fresh prawn mango salad with house-made plum dressing [鲜虾芒果色拉配自制梅子酱]
This is what summer tastes like and balanced out the heaviness of the first dish. The seafood and fruits were fresh and the dressing was tangy and flavorful, but what made the dish unique and exception was the sprinkled sesame on top. I’d order this on any hot summer day!
Third course: Pan roasted sea bass with lobster emulsion [嫩煎鲈鱼配龙虾泡沫汁]
Surrounded by lobster foam, this sea bass had a crispy skin and tender insides. Another perfect example of how fusion food can taste amazing when made correctly. Garlic chives (Chinese chives, 韭黄, or “nira” in Japanese) is a common ingredient in Chinese cooking but not so often used in Western dishes. In this case, the chives enhanced the flavors of the sea bass without it being overwhelming as garlic chives are actually more mild and subtle in taste than regular chives.
Fourth course: Grilled Australian beef tenderloin with wild mushroom black truffle sauce [扒烤澳洲牛柳配野菌黑松露汁]
I tend to shy away from ordering steak (if I have the option to do so) just because I’m very picky about how my meat is prepared. I like them tender and slightly raw, but please, without a trace of blood. I know I’m difficult, but hey if you’re going to ask me how well done I want it to be then you better make it that way.
This steak was exactly what I wanted. The meat quality is top notch and the preparation even better. I don’t remember the last time I was perfectly satisfied with my steak. The truffle mushroom sauce was exceptional and full of flavor. Mmmm….
Fifth course: Tea/coffee 茶咖啡
Sixth course: Baked chocolate fondue lava cake with raspberry vanilla ice cream ［岩溶巧克力蛋糕配覆盆子香草冰淇淋]
Holy cow. If you like chocolate, you’ll be filled with pure joy. I was stuffed beyond words by dessert time but nothing could stop me from devouring this whole baked molten chocolate lava cake and wiping the entire plate clean. When the warm gooey chocolate goodness melted in my mouth, it melted my heart too.