[Shanghai] Jin Xuan 金軒 at the Ritz-Carlton (Lunch)
Categories: Dim-Sum, Chinese, Fine dining
Address: The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, 8 Century Avenue (浦东陆家嘴世纪大道8号上海国金中心)
Hours: Lunch 11:30am-2:00pm; Dinner 5:30pm - 10:00pm
Date visited: May 2013
Price: ¥300-400RMB for lunch; ¥1000+ RMB for dinner
Verdict: Mediocre food, but excellent service and fabulous view of the Bund.
I arrived a little past noon without a reservation on a Monday. I was seated quickly at a table by the window with a gorgeous view overlooking the entire Puxi area. The table could have easily fit five people but it seemed to be the smallest one available with a spectacular view so I surely didn’t mind.
The service was impeccable from the start. As I sat waiting for my lunch date to arrive (fellow foodie and blogger friend Shanghai Girl Eats), a waiter came to ask me if I wanted a drink first. When I told him I wanted to wait for my friend to arrive first, he gave me water without further ado. I was also very pleasantly surprised when he brought over a small velvet stool for me to place my bag beside my chair.
Soon after, my date arrived and we were both stumped by colossal menu. We finally decided on the 6-course “Healthy Dim Sum” set menu 健康套餐 ($280 RMB/pp, not including drinks or the 15% service charge) after consulting our server.
We were given a complimentary amuse-bouche as we waited for our food to arrive.
Amuse-bouche: Pork-wrapped Flammulina mushrooms with sweet pickled radish on the side. It was delicious and made me anticipate our upcoming dishes even more.
Dish 1: Trilogy of steamed and deep-fried dim-sum (點心三拼). This was just okay – nothing special. I didn’t like the fried turnip cakes but the steamed dumplings weren’t bad. I would recommend going elsewhere for authentic Cantonese dim-sum. That being said, I grew up eating dim-sum almost every weekend in Hong Kong and Shanghai so my expectations might be exceptionally high.
Dish 2: Double-boiled supreme vegetable soup, flower mushroom wild bamboo pith, cabbage (花菇竹笙素膽湯).
I liked it a lot. The broth was very clear and subtle flavors blended perfectly. I can tell the soup had been simmered for at least a few hours at low heat and I was happy that the wild bamboo pith was not under or over-cooked.
Dish 3: Chef’s secret recipe stewed beef ribs, Chinese herb (秘制鮮百合杞子澳洲牛肋排).
This is one of the main dishes but I was quite disappointed. I liked the sweetness of the wolfberry and lily bulbs and although I was prepared for it to be the heaviest dish of all, I did not expect the meat to be 40-50% fat. This is a big nono, especially for a menu that’s supposedly “healthy.”
Dish 4: Braised homemade tofu, vegetarian goose (素雞燴自制豆腐).
The tofu was fantastic! Japanese egg tofu, I’d assume. The inside was super tender and a little more yellow than normal tofu. The chef probably added some sort of secret ingredient (eggs perhaps?) The vegetarian goose was so-so; as a traditionally Shanghainese dish, this didn’t taste very Shanghainese. Not too bad but certainly not authentic.
Dish 5: Charcoal roasted pork neck, shallot, poached noodles (炭燒美國黑豬頸肉配干蔥油拌面).
By the time this dish came out, I was already beyond stuffed. The portion sizes aren’t humongous by American standards, but definitely enough for one hungry person. I was still eager to try because the dish looked very appealing. I’m glad to say that the dish did not disappoint. The noodles were ideally chewy and the pork neck was excellent. Too bad I was way too stuffed to finish everything.
Dish 6: Assorted fresh fruits platter (熱帶水果盤). Thin mango slices, watermelon, a strawberry, honeydew, etc.
All dishes were presented in an exquisite manner and I liked how most of the dishes were pretty light but yet not bland in terms of flavor (and thus healthy in that sense). However, I do not consider this authentic Cantonese or Shanghainese food. I would even say it’s traditional Chinese food prepared with a touch of Western/fusion zest.
The highlight of the restaurant is no doubt its outstanding service, a somewhat rare trait for restaurants in China. I have been to many high-end restaurants in Shanghai and not many can compete with Jin Xuan. I’ve been here another time for dinner and both times I was very pleased by the attentiveness of the servers. The view is hard to beat as well. Located on the 53th floor of the Ritz-Carlton, you can see a dazzling view of the Bund and a stretched out cityscape of Puxi.
The bill came out to be $322RMB per person – slightly pricey but well worth the price if you consider the world-class service, classy décor, and comfortable atmosphere.