[CLOSED] International Chinese Food at Sweet and Sour, Shanghai

13th December 2015 / Shanghai

Sweet and sour is a restaurant specializing in ‘International Chinese’ food. Many people automatically assume this category to be American Chinese, such as orange chicken, sweet and sour pork, etc. but in fact, Sweet and Sour is more than that; They feature authentic interpretations of Chinese food from all over the world, India, Peru, Canada, etc.

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I was fortunate to be part of a media tasting at Sweet and Sour to sample the varied chinese interpretations from around the world. Many thanks to Jordan and James.

CRITICAL UPDATE: unfortunately due to issues with the buildings management, Between my last visit a month back and the time of this review, Sweet & Sour has closed. Let’s hope they will bounce back soon in another location!

Decor

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The decor at Sweet and Sour is modern and industrial, but retaining a slick quality. Lighting is dim, suggesting an air of sophistication. What struck out the most were the various wall-sized photos, artfully directed and taken of a seemingly mobster chinese chef and his family, as well as one interpretation of the Last Supper. Tables are well spaced out and comfortable. 8/10

Service

As this was an invited tasting, my usual unbiased score of 7.5/10 is awarded. I didn’t manage to get a glimpse of service towards other customers that evening as there weren’t other diners near our table.

Food

West Lake Soup (China)

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This is a well known soup dish, originating from Hangzhou, where West Lake precides. The soup supposedly got its name because it resembles the look of the lake, with the coriander leaves on the soup resembling the lotus leaves on the lake. It usually is a thick starchy soup with minced beef in it.

The version at Sweet and Sour looked the part, tasted nice and savoury. However, it wasn’t memorable with no specific ingredient nor flavour standing out. 7/10

Crab Rangoon (USA)

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This was the representative dish from USA that evening — deep fried dumplings filled with cream cheese and crab. In actual fact, surimi AKA crab sticks were used instead of real crab meat. The flavour was actually quite balanced — not too rich from the cream cheese, and I could see this being very addictive finger food, though I would have preferred more complexity in the ingredients. 7.5/10

Aeropuerto (Peru)

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Peruvian fried rice with tomatoes, vegetables and crispy noodles. This was a weird one for me. Tomatoes very seldom show up in fried rice(s), but we were told that this is super popular in Peru. The fried noodle strips add some crunch and texture variety between bites. However, the secret to a good fried rice is in the ‘breath of wok’, a quality that is imparted from a seasoned wok that has fried rice for a long time with a strong flame. 7/10

Chicken 65 (India)

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The Indian representative was surprisingly my favourite of the lot that evening. Resembling a sichuan dish which also featured crispy fried chicken bits with peppers, Chicken 65 packed a punch with its spicy seasoning. The chicken was battered and deep-fried to perfection, with each piece burst with goodness crunch after crunch. While it was dry and crunchy on the outside, the flesh within remained tender and moist. This was a huge hit at the table. 9/10

Okinawan Pork Belly (Japan)

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Japan’s take on the Chinese Hong Shao Rou, a sweet braised pork dish popular in regions in and around Shanghai. In fact, it tasted pretty much like Hong Shao Rou, except less heavy, because light Japanese soy sauce was used instead of the usual thick dark soy sauce. The twist was that Wasabi was paired with the meat. The Wasabi proved to be a profound pairing with the fatty meat, because it totally cancelled out the greasiness one would otherwise experience without wasabi. This was life changing. I am going to have Wasabi with hong shao rou from now on. 8.5/10

Ginger Beef (Canada)

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Deep-fried battered beef slices stir fried in a sweet ginger glaze. This was very similar to the usual sweet and sour pork / orange chicken. Tasted pleasant, and very much like how I would expect ‘Western Chinese food’ to be. 7.5/10

Jerk Chicken Chow Mein (Jamaica)

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Fried noodles with Jamaican Jerk spice. Jerk spices are usually used in barbequed meats ranging from chicken to fish and pork. However used in this application, I felt it was overpowering. I have to say, I am not used to eating Jamaican style spices, hence the Jerk spices were very punchy and odd to me. The noodles were fried to a good non-mushy texture, but the whole flavour profile in general was not my cup of tea. 6/10

Deep-fried Milk (Taiwan)

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This is apparently a very traditional dessert that is very rare these days. We were told that many old-time Shanghainese customers came just to relieve their childhood with this dessert. It is actually a crispy fritter filled with milk custard. When bitten past the crispy crust, your tastebuds would welcome a soft gooey and pleasantly non-overly-sweetened milk custard. The hot fritter was paired with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, which was sublime when eaten together. I thoroughly enjoyed this dessert. 9/10

And that endeth our little tasting at Sweet and Sour. Although not all the dishes were a hit for me, they were certainly very novel in my opinion. It is common for one to have tasted authentic regional cuisines from all over the world, but it is much less so for one to have tasted authentic Chinese cuisine from regions around the world. Based on this, I highly recommend a visit to Sweet and Sour to have a taste with an open mind.

TSK Rating

7.7
Food
7.5
Service
7.5
Venue
8

Author: Fred Lin

Fred "The Shanghai Kid" Lin was born in Singapore, and grew up in a family of foodies and home-cooks. He moved to Shanghai in 2007 and fell in love with the city, eventually carving a self-made career out of digital media design and development. He founded The Shanghai Kid food blog in 2013, and opened an award-winning Singaporean restaurant in 2014, which won CityWeekend's Outstanding Southeast Asian restaurant of the year in 2016. In 2017, he decided to reboot, and shut down all his businesses in Shanghai before moving back to Singapore with his wife. Fred plans to immigrate to Melbourne in the near future.

Sweet & Sour

Address
This restaurant has closed down. :(

Cuisine
Fusion

City
Shanghai

Area
Huang Pu / Luwan

Landmarks
Nanjing West Road

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