When a Michelin restaurant changes its kitchen crew along with the Executive Chef in the middle of judging season, the pressure is on the new guy to retain the coveted star. So how did the new team in Phénix fare?
Located on Level 2 of The PuLi Hotel and Spa whilst overlooking the Jing’An Park. Phénix opened its doors to the public in late March 2016. Helmed by Australian Chef Michael Wilson, who promptly got them the coveted star with his rustic Australian cooking, he left in Apr 2019 and was replaced by French Chef Pierrick Maire. He changed course for the restaurant to Southern French with his Marseille root and retained the star. Now he is gone too and replaced by French Chef Ugo Rinaldo, who now has the job to continue or better his predecessors for the 2023 edition.
Rooted in the philosophy of “Life is about the ingredients”, a visit to Phénix is a charming invitation to reconnect with the essentials through an intuitive French cuisine inspired by the richness of seasonal natural ingredients. This commitment to the finest, freshest, and best quality ingredients is at the heart of everything; during our visit, the executive chef was away in France looking for the ingredients for the next iteration of the menu.
To appreciate their vision in all its glory, we opted for the 6-course seafood-heavy ‘Experience Menu’.
The menu here was refreshed when the current kitchen came on board in 2022. The culinary team led by Executive Chef Ugo Rinaldo has embarked on a mission to give a new life to French cuisine, by revisiting old favorites with a modern refreshing twist.
- Les Bouchées Surprises
- Le Caviar
- La Saint-Jacques De La Baie D’hokkaido
- Le Consommé
- Le Homard Bleu Breton
- Le Boeuf Wagyu M9
- Gourmandises Sucré Es
The meal got off to a good start with excellent pain au levain (sourdough) and equally excellent flavoured butter (with seaweed). I ate too much bread as result.
There’s also a puff pastry that looked like a muffin but tasted like a croissant laid on its side. Very buttery and flaky with sea salt on top.
Les Bouchées Surprises
Surprise bites | 餐前小食
If you’ve been dining in fancy restaurants – chances are – you’ve probably seen the words ‘amuse bouche’ on the menu right above the starters when you’re placing an order — no description, whatsoever.
The amuse bouche was born out of France’s nouvelle cuisine movement in the early 1970s. Over the years, the amuse bouche has evolved into a plate revelled in flair, grace and elegance. Because the dish is so small, chefs are more adventurous in pairing ingredients that are often not used together.
The tiny “mouth teasers” tonight included a burrata tartlet with yuzu drop, pâtè and parmesan on puff pastry, and salmon beignet filled with cream cheese. Pretty little teasers, with bold tastes to match.
Perseus No2 osciètre supérieur, sériole du Japon, lait de tigre | Perseus No2 superior oscietra caviar, Japanese hamachi, tiger’s milk | 馥琰鲟鱼子酱，日本黄尾鱼，老虎汁
Leche de tigre, literally “tiger’s milk,” is the citrus-based, spicy marinade used to cure the fish in classic Peruvian ceviche. Here it is used to cure the Japanese hamachi (yellowtail) and muscat grapes.
The ceviche is served on a bed of Perseus No.2 superior oscietra caviar, a sustainable caviar harvested from aquaculture crossbred sturgeons reared in the pristine waters of Jiuzhaigou 九寨沟, Sichuan. The No.2 is harvested from a crossbred of Ascipenser Schrenckii X Huso Dauricus at 10 years. The eggs are jade to amber-blonde at around 3.2mm with adequate firmness and a slight nutty note.
La Saint-Jacques De La Baie D’hokkaido
Mi-cuite au feu de bois, vanille, radis, tomate arbuste | Hokkaido scallops, vanilla, radish, tree tomato | 北海道扇贝，香草，萝卜，树番茄
Scallops have a romantic French name – St Jacque. And tonight we were having the excellent species from Hokkaido. Hokkaido scallops are large and sweet, and they are slightly grilled on their sides before sliced into thin wafers. The sweetness of the mollusc was absolutely fabulous.
The Tamarillo, or Tree Tomato, is a small tree or shrub in the tomato family grown for its edible fruit. It is more tart than the tomato with a more intense tomato flavour and great as a garnish. The olive oil dressing is infused with vanilla pods, hence the speckles of black in the dressing. The raw red baby beets thinly sliced provided the crunch.
De légumes de saison, raviolis de ricotta artisanale | Vegetal consommé, homemade ricotta raviolis | 蔬菜清汤，自制乳清芝士饺子
The next course is the soup course. But first we were presented with three exquisite ravioli filled with ricotta cheese. On the ravioli were hints of the seven types of vegetable used to made the consommé.
We were assured that no tomato was used for the vegetable consommé but I swore I tasted it in the consommé. The rest were zucchini, cabbage, lantern pepper, leek, carrot, radish and fennel.
Le Homard Bleu Breton
Cuit au sautoir, gnocchis, chataîgne, jus de carapaces infusé á la verveine citronnée | Brittany blue lobster, handmade gnocchi, chestnut, lemon verbena infused lobster sauce | 布列塔尼蓝龙虾，土豆团子，栗子，柠檬马鞭草龙虾汁
A fine, firm flesh, an attractive black shell with blue highlights, these are the features that make the Brittany blue lobster unique. The “homard breton” is fished with nets along the Brittany costs and is famous for its succulent flavour and the beautiful blue color of its shell which turns red when cooked. The lobster was lightly poached, shelled and the tail was plated.
The rest of the lobster was made into a bisque that was infused with lemon verbena. Paired with a couple of gnocchi decorated with films of chestnut, they made you want more of the sauce. Inf act, I mopped the sauce off the plate with my remaining sourdough.
Le Boeuf Wagyu M9
Maturé par nos soins, barbajuans, artichauds, asperges | Dry aged Wagyu beef M9, barbajuans, artichokes, asparagus | 干式熟成 M9 和牛，巴巴琼，洋蓟，芦笋
This is usually my least favourite course in a fine dining degustation, but the alternative to beef was chicken. The Australian M9 wagyu beef was dry-aged in-house to intensify the flavours and soften the texture even further. Each strip of wagyu was accompanied with a barbajuan. Barbajuan is a samosa-like appetiser usually stuffed with Swiss chard and ricotta, and mainly found in the eastern part of the French Riviera.
Thankfully it had my favourite ingredient – artichokes. The plate was finished with a savoury au jus sauce, and some blanched asparagus. With the steak, we finished the savoury part of the meal. I loved the seafood parts of the dinner, but I had hope for something less common than wagyu for the meat protein. A squib or pigeon would be perfect.
Gourmandises Sucré Es
En trois actes | Our sweet ending in three acts | 精美甜品三重奏
Beet Sorbet | Mascarpone Vanilla | Pomegranate
First act of our dessert was a sorbet made from beets topped with a quenelle of mascarpone vanilla ice cream. The sweet and savoury ice cream made with fresh vanilla pods paired very well with the sour sorbet.
What I did not enjoy of this dessert was the nitro-frozen pomegranate. I have weak teeth, the freezing fruit did not agree with me.
Paris-Brest | Hazelnut
Pâte à choux is such a versatile traditional French pastry dough. One of the many creations made from this dough is Paris-Brest. As the story goes, Paris-Brest was created in the early 1900s to commemorate a bicycle race from Paris to Brest and back to Paris. The circular shape represented the wheel of a bicycle and became very popular with the racers.
As if the Paris-Brest was not good enough, it was drizzled with a rich dark chocolate sauce for good measure.
Le Petit Four
And finally the “little oven” bites – chocolate truffle with whisky filling, lime grapefruit citrus pavlova, white chocolate yuzu choux pastry.
The Puli Hotel Lobby
I had to put in a section about the hotel lobby. The staff spoke so much about the hotel lobby; “The tiles used in the lobby were the same as the ones in the Forbidden Palace”, offered the manager an unusual trivial about the lobby.
The hotel interior is a combination of metropolitan and naturalism. Stone and wood are core elements that decorate the hotel, with black graphite-like walls and carved wooden panels.
The lighting is mostly natural, with glass windows, and a high-raised ceiling that projects soft golden lighting. There are couches for guests with sore puppies and the furniture is a mix of the past and present. Leather-bound suitcases, handmade vases and what can be described as “post-modernist Japanese nude art”.
Both the ingredients and the cooking were of a very high standard, and the staff were exceptionally friendly. We went on an evening when they were not too busy (only four tables) so we got all the attention we needed. Overall, we loved the meal, and very much appreciated the attentive service. It would have been perfect if there was a fish course or squib instead of the beef.
PHÉNIX eatery & bar
1 Changde Road, Jingan District Shanghai 200040 China
Tel: +86 21 2216 6988
Visited Feb 2023
Michelin Shanghai Guide 1 Star 2017-2023
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