I have not imagined that I would be able to have a team lunch in Shanghai in 2020. I managed to meet all the newcomers in this new Sichuan restaurant in the office building called Lily Reflection 映水芙蓉.
In the cut-throat F&B business in Shanghai, one can only be innovative or outstanding to survive the competition. The restaurants in Raffles City Changning have undergone a round of changes after the Covid-19 lockdown in Shanghai. Lily Reflection was one of the latest to open shop there, taking over the place vacated by Zhang Sheng Ji.
For such beautiful table service and surrounding, one would suspect that it was an expensive restaurant. To my surprise, it was reasonably priced for the office crowd in this building.
Pickled Cherry Tomatoes 餐前水果
And instead of the usual peanuts or pickles, they served pickled cherry tomatoes for the amuse bouche, which was delicious and enhanced the appetite.
Water Lily out of Water 水出芙蓉
The presentation of this soup is more of a gimmick than flavourful. A water lily bulb was placed carefully on a stone cauldron of boiling soup. The water lily came to life and “bloomed” in front of us. After the “spectacle”, the cauldron was promptly removed to be served into individual portions.
In essence it was a clear soup of chicken and cordycep mushroom. The water lily has not provided any enhancement to the flavour. In fact, it mysteriously disappear from the final product.
Cold Courses 凉菜
Garlic and Chilli Pork Belly 蒜泥白肉
Garlic and Chilli Pork Belly 蒜泥白肉 is a classic appetiser in Sichuan cuisine. Made with blanched sliced pork belly and dressed with Sichuan spices and minced garlic, they made a slight change to the combination with fried garlic instead of the raw variety. A good innovation to a classic.
Spicy Chicken with Syrup 敲糖棒棒鸡
A classic Sichuan appetiser of shredded chicken and spices with an innovative twist of a goblet of malt sugar syrup that’s made with sugar crust. You break the syrup by hitting it with the serving spoon like a creme brûlée, and then mixed it in. Very cute, but the sugar did not add anything to the flavours, just like the water lily in the soup. The spices were less intense than the traditional ones that I get in Chengdu, but this was really pleasant.
Cold Sichuan Mung Bean Noodles 川北凉粉
Street food turned into an appetiser, Cold Sichuan Mung Bean Noodles 川北凉粉 can be found everywhere in Sichuan as a quick fix. Everyone has a different recipe for the spices. This one was so-so.
Beef Offals 夫妻肺片
It has a very “romantic” Chinese name, “Husband and Wife’s Sliced Lungs”, meaning a married couple speaking in one voice. No lung is served in this dish. Instead it is made up of sliced beef heart, beef tripe, beef stomach and beef face meat, all tossed in a copious amount of Sichuan spices.
Hot Courses 热菜
Sichuan Spicy Beef 水煮牛肉
Usually the sight of this would make the weak goes “arghhhh”. While it looked spicy, their version of the Sichuan Spicy Beef 水煮牛肉 was not that crazy spicy. We wanted a numbing, tear inducing experience but we didn’t get that. What we was commendable was that in other places, there would be very little beef and lots of beansprouts on the bottom of the bowl. This was the reverse – we wanted beansprouts and didn’t get much.
Signature Spicy Offals 招牌毛血旺
This is a dish we cannot get in Singapore. Signature Spicy Offals 招牌毛血旺 contains pig’s blood pudding, offals from the duck, swine and cow. I nicknamed it “Massacre in Animal Farm”. It was delicious.
Mount Qingcheng Cured Pork and Air-dried Sausage 青城山老腊肉拼香肠
I watched this episode in “Tastes of China”, the seminary food documentary for Chinese cuisine produced by CCTV that ran three seasons, and it talked about transformation of meat. One of the example was this cured pork and air-dried sausage. The curing process has broken down the tissues and rendered the fats into another texture and taste. Wonderful knife work here, the meats were sliced thinly so you get the full flavours without the guilt.
Sichuan Steamed Pork 粉蒸肉
I didn’t know it was a Sichuan delicacy but the first time I had Steamed Pork was in Nanchang Hotel. Anyway, this one was competently done, but the pork belly totally disintegrated to touch – a case of overheat.
Gorgon Fruit and Sweet Peas 大珠小珠落玉盘
It has a beautiful name, “pearls scattered on a plate”. It was a stir-fry vegetable dish made with gorgon fruit of the prickly water lily, which was in season then, and sweet peas. Simple and nice.
Fir Mushroom with Baby Zucchini 鸡枞菌炒童子黄瓜
Called the “chicken fir tree mushroom”, Macrolepiota albuminosa is an edible fungus found native in Yunnan Province in China. It has a very intense woody flavour that combined very well with the baby zucchinis.
Wulong Roast Pig’s Brain 武隆烤猪脑
Not for the squeamish or faint hearted, Babe’s cerebral organ was not considered a delicacy in the West. I have been eating this since I was a kid as we Chinese believe in 以型補型 “supplement in kind”. So my parents thought that it would be good for my intellect development. Anyway, it is creamy and when cooked with other ingredients is absolutely delicious. Wulong in Chongqing made this dish famous – the brain is cleaned and then marinated with spices before thrown into an oven and baked. Delicious if you can get beyond the fear factor.
Lotus Leaf Wrapped Rice 荷叶饭
Not the bak chang that we are familiar with, Lotus Leaf Wrapped Rice 荷叶饭 is glutinous rice with cured meat and peppercorns. Beware of the peppercorns, they may be small but they packed a mighty punch. You do not want to be coughing during these sensitive time.
Tan Tan Noodles 担担面
I am more familiar with the Japanese version than the Sichuan version. And I find the Sichuan version too watery for my preference. And the ones outside of China have been influenced by noodle makers in the South. So I did not try this version.
Taking a large area vacated by Zhang Sheng Ji, it has been beautifully transformed into a tasteful dining experience with lots of privacy and space between tables.
The service needs to be upgraded, so is the pacing of the meal. Given that this was a business lunch, the speed at which they served was not ideal. A third of the team had to leave for meetings by the 6th course. But for the price we paid and the surrounding, as well as the cooking, this will be another of our favourite in the building. Only hope the innovation and food taste will endure.
Lily Reflection 映水芙蓉(长宁来福士店)
Tel : 4001001717
Date Visited : Nov 2020