The concept of private dining bloomed like mushrooms after the rain, and it was lifted by the lockdowns that came along Shanghai in the recent waves of Covid swells. Many retreated to these private dinings for their dine outs.
Shunxi 顺席•太史府 located at Hope Hotel is a restaurant specialising in Shunde cuisine 順德菜. Shunde is a city in Guangdong Province that is famous for producing the best chefs in the country. In Shunde cuisine, nothing is more important than freshness and an umami taste – summed up in one Chinese word, xian 鮮. Cantonese cuisine is heavily influenced by the chefs from Shunde.
The cooking style dates from the Qin and Han dynasties 2,000 years ago, came to prominence during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, and has flourished in recent years. Dishes are prepared using seasonal ingredients, including the freshest catch of the day. Non-seasonal ingredients are frowned upon in Shunde culinary tradition。
Ever wonder what it’s like to be spoiled by a city where everyone is a chef? There is an old Chinese saying that goes, “Guangzhou is for eating, Shunde is for chefs” (“吃在广州，厨出凤城”). That’s because Shunde is actually best known for producing some of the best Cantonese cuisine cooks out there.
- 潮式卤水四拼 Teochew Braised Appetisers 4 Types
- 维C蔬果汇 Fruit and Vegetable Salad
- 烧椒鲍鱼 Stewed Abalone in Peppercorn
- 顺席鱼生 Shunxi Yusheng
- 白灼斑节虾 Boiled Spotted Shrimp
- 太史手拆鯪魚羮 Taishi Hand-torn River Carp Soup
- 新会陈皮黑豚肉 Xinhui Tangerine Peel Kurobuta Pork
- 虾酱唐生菜 Sautéed Lettuce with Shrimp Sauce
- 铁棍山药羊肚菌 Sautéed Mountain Yam Morel Mushroom
- 臻味春卷 Deep Fried Savoury Spring Roll
- 红豆沙汤圆 Red Bean Paste with Mochi Dumpling
潮式卤水四拼 Teochew Braised Appetisers 4 Types
The four types of Teochew braised appetisers were (from L, clockwise) goose wings, beef shank, goose eggs, and beef tripes. Accompanied by the white vinegar and garlic dip.
维C蔬果汇 Fruit and Vegetable Salad
This Western-style salad uses sliced fruits (mango and dragonfruits) and butterhead lettuce with a sweet, tangy dressing made from sesame, mustard and emulsified olive oil. And finally a sprinkling of shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.
烧椒鲍鱼 Stewed Abalone in Peppercorn
Abalone is a tasteless mollusc that has to borrow its flavours from the stewing liquid. This cold appetiser uses a peppercorn braising liquid to give the abalones a spicy numbing 麻辣 flavour. The texture of the finished abalone was tender and full of flavours.
顺席鱼生 Shunxi Yusheng
In recorded history, the Yusheng (Chinese-style ceviche) has been eaten since the Tang Dynasty; river fish is deboned and sliced to thin slivers which is then mixed with a variety of ingredients. The Four Heavenly King in Singapore took this recipe and made it to the Prosperity Yusheng 發財魚生 that is commonly eaten during the Chinese New Year.
The soul of this ceviche is the cold-pressed peanut oil, shredded lemon leaf, shredded ginger, sesame seeds, pickled garlic, pickled jalapeño, among other ingredients – all thirteen of them – mixed together with the carp sashimi. The fish is fresh and sweet, and every bite is a pure natural enjoyment.
白灼斑节虾 Boiled Spotted Shrimp
Spotted shrimp is a variety of prawn that is raised in brackish water.With the advancement of aquaculture in China, the spotted shrimp is the predominant prawn that is served in restaurant for their ample size and a sweetness that is divine. And the best method to cook them is to simply boil them a la minute.
太史手拆鯪魚羮 Taishi Hand-torn River Carp Soup
Jiang Kong Yin 江孔殷 (1864-1952), aka 江太史 whose household this restaurant related its cuisine with, was a politician and a renowned gourmand in the history of Cantonese cuisine. He invented the renowned Five Snake Soup 太史五蛇羹, which feature snake meat torn into shreds by hand. This river carp soup was inspired by the cooking method and hand-shredded the carp meat. Two stocks were used to make the soup – a fish stock used to cook the carp, and a chicken stock to make the rest of the soup. The soup is then thickened using cornstarch.
新会陈皮黑豚肉 Xinhui Tangerine Peel Kurobuta Pork
Guangdong-Xinhui 廣東新會 is a famous hometown of overseas Chinese, including the reformist Liang Qichao 梁啟超. It is also famous for dried tangerine peel called chenpi 陳皮. This peel is an important ingredient in this stewed Kurobuta pork belly. The tangerine peel has a citrusy flavour that reduces the greasiness of the pork. Rock sugar gave the glaze on the pork while other spices like cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, etc help to render the pork belly to a melt-in-mouth texture and gave it a complex taste.
虾酱唐生菜 Sautéed Lettuce with Shrimp Sauce
Iceberg lettuce 唐生菜 cannot be sautéed for too long all it will lose 80% of its mass because of its water retention. So the Cantonese sautéed technique suites this vegetable very well. The prawn paste 蝦醬 gave the crunchy vegetable all the umami it needed.
铁棍山药羊肚菌 Sautéed Mountain Yam Morel Mushroom
Morel mushroom is my favourite mushroom. It was stuffed with minced prawn meat and pan fried before sautéing with the rest of the vegetables – the crunch mountain yam and sugar snap peas were perfect with the flavourful stuffed morel.
臻味春卷 Deep Fried Savoury Spring Roll
The deep fried spring roll was the only item tonight that did not leave up to its name. Delicious it was not. The skin was too thick. The filling was too little.
红豆沙汤圆 Red Bean Paste with Mochi Dumpling
Chinese dessert selection was always its Achilles’ heel. The red bean paste was sweet and tangy with the tangerine peel taste. The mochi dumpling was filled with mung bean paste. This classic pairing is usually appreciated, but tonight it was too heavy and starchy.
There are basically no shortcomings in these dishes; the ingredients are exquisite, the technique polished, the finished dishes were delicious. The service was attentive and yet not intrusive. My business associates and I were able to talk confidentially while enjoying a wonderful dinner.
Highly recommended. If you want anything more authentic, you will need to go Shunde.
Shunxi Private Dining 顺席•太史府私宴
Tel : +86 (021) 6882 8886
Visited Feb 2023