2016 is coming to a close. It has been a long and fruitful year for me, eating around the world and in Shanghai. Without a shameless plug of the dishes at my own restaurant, here are the top 10 dishes I had eaten in 2016, in no particular order. To be on my top 10 list doesn’t necessary mean it had to be a super complex or expensive dish. It had to be tasty, in a nouvelle way or simply a reminder of home, and most importantly, I have to be always thinking of returning to eat that dish.
Lobster Royale from Tai’an Table
A dish from Tai’an Table’s Winter 2016 menu, I was very fortunate to be able to sample this dish at the Bocuse d’Or fundraiser dinner. It was probably the most indulgent way of eating lobster that I have ever experienced.
Served two ways, one with the lobster tail and claw meat resting on lobster bisque, and the other was a delicate custard cooked from the lobster broth and meat from the skinny legs, with a drizzle of dill oil. The texture was like lobster flavoured tofu, and full-on tears-inducing umami. This was the best lobster dish I have eaten so far in my life. Read about the fantastic dinner from the bocuse d’or Shanghai Team
Shiro Kin Wagyu from The Glenelg Public House, Goldcoast
Although I had procrastinated writing the review on this experience in Goldcoast Australia for too long, it had never left my mind ever since eating it in August this year.
The Shiro Kin Wagyu Rump cap from Darling Downs had a marble score of 9+, and cost a whopping AUD50 for 250g. Expensive by Australian standards for a piece of beef, but you would barely get a M4 steak here in Shanghai for that price.
The rump cut was perfect for this beef because it was so fatty, the usually lean rump cat in this case had strings of muscle fibres intertwined evenly with marbled fat.
Every bite in the mouth was a burst of smokiness from the crust and rich luxurious fat. Review to come very soon.
Salmon from Epices & Foie Gras
The Salmon dish from Michelin honoured Epices & Foie Gras left a very strong impression, because of it’s amazing texture and flavours, balanced with a fennel coulis and then bombarded with more umami from the baby mussels and clams sauce. Check out my review of Spices & Foie Gras
French Toast @ Mr Mrs Bund
Aside from being the best brunch I had in Shanghai, the one dish that caught me off guard was the french toast at Mr & Mrs Bund. It looked simple, but tasted so beautiful. The french toast had a consistently light and crisp crust, when broken into, revealed the soft, pillowy bread that had been flavoured with milk and eggs. Throughout 2016, I’ve visited many brunches in Shanghai, and still, the French toast at Mr & Mrs Bund was the one to rule them all. Read my epic review of Mr & Mrs Bund
Salmon Rosti @ Liquid Laundry
Chef Simon Sunwoo does a variety of heavy American dishes at Liquid Laundry, but the one that really impressed me was his Smoked Salmon Rosti with salsa verde, ricotta, ikura, and poached egg.
The Rosti provided a sturdy base for the delicate toppings on top. Super generous slices of smoked salmon, laden with a spicy and bright salsa verde. The ricotta provided a little bit of extra soft and rich mouthfeel in between bites, whilst the burst of salmon roe released waves of saltiness and flavours of the sea. It was and still is my favourite dish at Liquid Laundry. Read my past review of Liquid Laundry
Lobster Spaghetti @ Top Chef
Ok this one I have actually never written about. Top Chef is an Italian restaurant near my home. I have actually had a long history of eating there after the Shanghai Expo, and the food then and now had always left me impressed, knowing that the head chef is in fact Shanghainese.
What really got me hooked this year was their signature lobster pasta. It featured half a lobster on spaghetti tossed with a creamy tomato-based sauce. I loved it. It was how I envisioned a lobster pasta to look like and taste.
Crispy Duck Egg, Potato, Bacon, Feta @ The Comune Social
While there are many dishes to be lauded at The Commune Social, the crispy duck egg with bacon really captured my heart. The crispy textures of the fried egg, with the ultra rich duck yolks flowing around the roasted potato cubes. The real star of the dish were the 1 inch thick bacon cubes. They were tender and bursting with the smokey-salty flavours that one would expect from bacon. The tender bacon was a very welcome change from the fried-till-hardened or chewy bacon in most other places. Read my latest review of The Commune Social
Laulau @ Ono Hawaiian Foods, Honolulu
Another review that I had procrastinated for 4 years, and recently revisited in February. Ono Hawaiian Foods had been a food landmark for both my trips to Hawaii. The dish that captivated the stomachs of my wife and I, was the Lau Lau; A traditional Hawaiian dish made with seasoned pork shoulder, wrapped in taro leaves and then steamed until fork tender.
It sounded simple on paper, but tasted so satisfying. The pork, with equal amounts of muscle and fat broke apart with a prod of the fork, and had been flavoured with a subtle fragrance from the taro leaves. My wife and I were particularly surprised at the discovery of this dish, because taro leaves are never eaten in Chinese cuisine. There was a certain rustic and comforting feeling about this dish, whose taste brought us back to simpler times when we would enjoy, un-appreciatively-then, the cooking of our mothers and grandmothers. Comprehensive review to come in the near future.
Sukiyaki @ Ryu
I am a big fan of sukiyaki because good beef is usually warranted for a good sukiyaki, and there are a large variety of ingredients in a matured sukiyaki pot, making for a colourful eating experience.
Ryu at Shanghai on the Bund elevates this by starting the sukiyaki pot with a mound of cotton candy, slowly dissolving in the heat, caramelises, before the beef is added in with seasonings, after which, the vegetables and stock are incorporated to create the iconic, sweet and savoury stew. I wished there were more of the wagyu beef slices, but don’t we all. Check out my review of Ryu
Cornbread Waffle @ Daimon Bistro
Last but certainly not least, the Cornbread waffle at Daimon Bistro. I’m usually not a fan of sweets, but this waffle was truly unique and expertly crafted. Featuring a super light and crispy waffle made from cornmeal batter. Airy inside, crispy on the outside with a whiff of corn, paired with a not-too-sweet strawberry compote and brown butter ice cream. So good. Read my review of Daimon Bistro
There you have it, next up I will be posting my Top 10 Restaurants in Shanghai 2016. Stay tuned!