Alma by DN opened at the newly refurbished mall on the top floor with a beautiful view of the ferris wheel. It was one of the rare Spanish restaurants in Shanghai and I loved Spanish tapas. Decided to try.
We started with an amuse bouche and a salad
Unfortunately, I was really disappointed with the amuse bouche. The smoked duck on bomba rice, chopped tomatoes and cracker was innovative take on sushi and Peking duck. The sauce was similar to the sweet bean paste used in Peking duck, the tomato provided some acidity, but the letdown was the poor quality of the smoked duck breast. It tasted like the cheap variety from the local supermarket.
And then we had the Special Shaker Salad 摇晃你的灵魂, which was cheeky and simple. You put mesclun, feta and vinaigrette in a jar, serve it and let the customer shake it up. I liked the Chinese name, “Shake your soul”. It was fun, but it was still a regular mesclun salad with vinaigrette.
Truffled eggs, foie gras and mushrooms 鹅肝煎蛋 – The fried egg was overcooked, it was just a rubbery mess on the mash. The foie gras was really oily and did not do justice to the mashed potatoes.
Croquette combo 综合奶油球 – three types of croquettes, mushroom, salted cod and ham. Was OK.
Grilled octopus on mash 八抓鱼土豆慕斯 – another classic tapas gone bad. I have no idea where the tabasco sauce fit into the whole dish.
Seafood paella 传统西班牙海鲜饭 – The paella was cooked to Chinese preference. The rice was softer than the al dente standard that Spaniards were used to. But I liked it this way because, well, I am Chinese too. The portion was just enough for two to share if you were having tapas.
Sour, sour, sour. What a way to cleanse the palate.
Chef Daniel Negreira – the soul behind DN
Chef Daniel Negreira worked for Chef Ferran Adria before, and learnt his trade from other masters like Chef Juan Arzak. He was voted the Best Young Chef of Spain in 2007, and started to ply his trade in Taipei in 2009. After a few successes, he closed his restaurants abruptly in Taiwan in 2015 and moved his based to Shanghai where he opened Marina by DN. That closed in 2017.
This was the sad story of good Western restaurants in China and Taiwan. Despite serving fine food, they would not survive the fickle minded customers who are after brands and prestige. I often watched in amusement how hosts in Taiwanese and Chinese food programs boasting about the number of Michelin stars they have “collected”. Yet, they cannot correctly talk about the difference French and Spanish cuisine. They are all conveniently lumped together as French.
Alma by DN was given the Michelin Shanghai Bib Gourmand 2017 recognition after we went to this restaurant. Congratulations. But I was seriously doubtful about the standard of the Michelin rating these days, especially the Asian editions. Shanghai and Taipei editions were the worst lots. Singapore was a yawn. And the Bangkok edition launched with a lot of fanfare, turned out that a lot of local heavyweights were not on it. I would not recommend this place even I was yearning Spanish in this city.
Alma by DN
Tel : +86 185 0164 1588
Date Visited : May 2017
Michelin Shanghai Bib Gourmand, 2017