Rose Garden, a Restaurant in an Iconic Park in Shanghai
Watch the Rose Garden video on Youku (China)
Watch the Rose Garden video on Youtube
Fuxing Park used to be the place to be, back in the day.
“..park used to be the place to be” — said no one ever.
Yet it’s true. When I came to Shanghai 10 years ago, I would spend so many nights a week revelling in one of the night clubs in Fuxing park.
Which brings us to the restaurant of the article today. Rose Garden, a 2 month old shop that has taken over the space that used to be Park 97, a major club in this area of the city, back in the day.
Many thanks to Frank for the generous invitation.
Rose Garden is located near the west gate of Fuxing Park. It seats about 40 customers, and is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows, giving the restaurant much natural light in the day, and also allowing diners to watch the activities going on in the park. At night, the restaurant lights up and is transformed into an atmospheric venue, with soft yet ample lighting illuminating the restaurant.
On my visit, the restaurant’s lighting was specially highlighted by the Christmas adornments. The restaurant definitely spent a lot of effort on getting the right lighting, and it clearly has paid off. 8.5/10
Invited tasting, unbiased service rating, 7.5.
The cuisine at Rose Garden claims to be Mediterranean, with hints of Chinese elements, not surprising, since their head chef was formerly from Husk.
Roasted Duck Salad (RMB 82)
Endive, orange, cranberry, pistachio, fennel and plum sauce
While this salad didn’t look very aesthetically pleasing, its taste more than made up for it. The salad had many flavours going on at the same time — sweet, sour, salty, fruity and umami from the roasted duck skin. They all came together very well, and I thought it was a salad that I would order again. 8.5/10
Grilled Salmon Steak (RMB 88)
Asian slaw, green apple, truffle kabayaki
This dish was in fact, a sort of salad with a slab of salmon. The salmon was surprisingly well cooked, tender and moist when broken apart. While my dining companions liked the slaw, I thought it tasted ‘a little raw’, which is my way of saying the salad needed more dressing. The vegetables were fresh and crunchy, which is always nice, but I wasn’t convinced if the flavour of the salmon went very well with the asian slaw. 7.5/10
Deep Fried Chilli Basil & Lemongrass Baby Spring Chicken (RMB 78)
From the name of the dish, I was expecting some sort of whole chicken, but it was actually an assortment of parts, making up half a baby spring chicken. The quality of the chicken meat was decent, and not dried out. There were also much skin on the parts, which is arguably the best part of any fried chicken. Despite the chilli in the name, the fried chicken was not spicy, but had good notes of lemongrass. The batter was very flavourful and well seasoned, but I wished it was crispier. For some reason, the flavour of this fried chicken reminded me of the Sichuan fried chicken dish (la zi ji). 8/10
Seared Scallops (RMB 98)
Cauliflower puree, snow peas, beech mushrooms and champagne lobster sauce
These were pretty large Hokkaido scallops. I was impressed by the searing, because the scallops were consistently seared on both sides with an even crust, while the inside was nearly medium rare. Getting a good sear on a scallop without overcooking it is a very difficult thing to do, and I always appreciate when chefs get it right. The rest of the accompaniments were de rigeur, I felt the cauliflower was too creamy instead of retaining some texture and flavours of cauliflower. A lighter, zestier sauce would have accompanied the scallops better. Lastly, the champagne lobster sauce seemed like a highlight on the menu, but sadly could not be detected on the dish. 8/10
Lobster Risotto (RMB 268)
Shaved parmesan, citrus butter, lobster bisque
The lobster risotto was possibly the best dish of the night. Even though the rice was a little overcooked that evening, the flavours of the umami-laden lobster bisque, furthermore enhanced with the parmesan flakes with a hint of acidity from the citrus butter in every bite was quite marvellous. The consistency was spot on — wet, but able to eat with a fork. There were also, albeit not too many, chunks of lobster meat. 8.5/10
400 days Australian M5 Ribeye 500g (RMB 598)
Roasted tomatoes, herb mushrooms and asparagus
The head turner of the evening was the 400 day grain fed Australian M5 wagyu ribeye. Ok, steak at restaurants are generally extremely overrated. So what makes a steak worth returning for at a restaurant?
- Speciality beef that is not commonly available. ie. Mayura Station Beef
- Speciality cooking apparatus such as wood fired ovens, charcoal grills, etc.
- Creative pairing and plating
I believe the steak at Rose Garden was cooked sous vide, before searing the outside. The medium-rare beef had an incredibly even doneness throughout, with a very thin crust.
The meat was sweet, tender, juxtaposed with a slight smokey char from the crust.
The fatty tissue of the ribeye was especially melting-in-the-mouth tasty.
Portion was huge too, and to be honest, quite a good deal for RMB 598 for the quality, quantity and execution. There was a sauce provided, but I didn’t use any of it, because none was needed. 9/10
Roast Duck Pizza (RMB 158)
Arriving on a tall stand, the roast duck pizza was Rose Garden’s take on the over-played peking duck pizza. It featured a thin crust, although we all wished the crust was crispier.
My main complaint was that the pizza could use more cheese; I like there to be a string of cheese as I pull a slice apart. Also, the plum sauce was cloyingly sweet. All in all, while some liked it, the roast duck pizza wasn’t my favourite dish of the evening. 7.5/10
Blackberry Clafoutis (RMB 68)
The last time I had a Clafoutis was at Coquille, and it left a little more to be desired. Surprisingly, the clafoutis at Rose Garden was delightful. Soft and fluffy within, risen like a Soufflé. There was a great balance of eggy and buttery flavours, paired with the fruity, slightly tart blackberries. A scoop of the clafoutis with a scoop of vanilla ice cream gave a nice contrast of temperatures.
However, there were a lot of blackberry seed-crumbs in the clafoutis, which made the experience a little less enjoyable. Otherwise, it was very well received. 8/10
Passion Fruit Mousse (RMB 68)
Creme fraiche, biscuit roll
We initially thought this was a passion fruit panna cotta. I was worried, because scooping in, the dessert didn’t had the texture of a panna cotta. Luckily, it was actually a mousse. In fact, it was more like a custard with passion fruit puree on top.
That said, the passion fruit mousse was very appetizing, with the tartness of the passion fruit balancing the sweetness of the custard. I felt it was a simple, yet clever and tasty combination. 8/10
On the whole, I was pleasantly surprised by the offerings from this unassuming restaurant in a park. They have a weekend brunch menu too, although certain dishes can be pricey. I felt that the chef at Rose Garden places a strong emphasis on flavours in the dishes. If a little more attention to detail is met, Rose Garden just might turn Fuxing Park back into a go-to spot in Shanghai.