Savour all of China on a Plate


"Demon Chef" Alvin Leung marks his foray into the Chinese mainland with the contemporary-styled Bo Shanghai


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Savour all of China on a Plate
Dining December 18th, 2017

Unlike her digitally plugged-in peers in the vicinity such as Paul Pairet’s Ultraviolet, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon and Hakkasan, Bo Shanghai doesn’t have an official WeChat account or website.

Finding the restaurant, too, is a challenge in itself – it’s tucked behind an inconspicuous sliding wall at the back of Daimon Bistro, another of Leung’s dining establishments.

Just like Leung himself, this Shanghai outpost is somewhat of an enigma waiting to be unravelled.

And this is exactly what dining at Bo Shanghai is all about.

Earthen tones dominate this speakeasy-style restaurant and accentuate the shroud of secrecy surrounding it. The muted interiors are a stark contrast to the loud décor that defines its neighbour, and it is quite rightly so – the food is, after all, the centre of attraction.

Unlike his acclaimed, three-Michelin-starred Bo Innovation in Hong Kong which serves reimagined Cantonese fare, this restaurant along Shanghai’s scenic Bund stretch serves modern interpretations of popular dishes from the Eight Cuisines of China (Shandong, Guangdong, Sichuan, Hunan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian and Anhui).

The London-born, Canada-raised culinary hotshot has made no secret of his desire to constantly challenge diners’ perceptions of food.

Of course, modern Chinese cuisine isn’t anything new. However, it is the way Bo Shanghai executes it that makes it stand out as a pioneer in its field.

The London-born, Canada-raised culinary hotshot Leung has made no secret of his desire to constantly challenge diners’ perceptions of food. He does so again at Bo Shanghai with a nod to his engineering roots, masterfully deconstructing popular Chinese dishes and recreating them with molecular cooking techniques.

The “xiaolongbao” amuse bouche that has become a mainstay despite two menu changes quite aptly encapsulates this, providing a glimpse into the sort of mind-bending fare that awaits.

This fusion of flavours might seem unorthodox on paper. The palate, however, begs to differ.

The orange globule presented to diners looks nothing like the well-loved xiaolongbao. But once inside the mouth, the dish ruptures to reveal a svelte combination of flavours: the savouriness of pork, an ephemeral spiciness of ginger and a delightful astringency of vinegar.

One of the standout offerings from the previous menu was the dish which was inspired by the famous Sichuan classic fuqi feipian, which comprises sliced beef offal and meat in an unctuous spicy sauce.

This fusion of flavours might seem unorthodox on paper. The palate, however, begs to differ.

In this rendition, Leung married pickled duck tongue, foie gras and kidney confit with a delicate Sichuan pepper sauce and Provencal lavender jelly. A dehydrated mix of soy bean and chilli powder provided another textural dimension.

This fusion of flavours might seem unorthodox on paper. The palate, however, begs to differ. The soy bean powder and the jelly mitigates the richness of the duck, allowing the diner to experience the mild, seductive heat of the chilli powder and pepper sauce.

In Bo Shanghai’s latest tasting menu (12 courses, 1680 RMB or S$343), the Sichuan creation pays homage to the shui zhu yu, or spicy fish stew. Comprising grouper, jellyfish, Sichuan sausage and salsa verde, the dish features a delightful interplay of flavours that make this one of the most elegant dishes among the twelve.

Bo Shanghai is not for the conservative diner who prefers his food to be a little more grounded. But for the intrepid gourmand who is seeking an eclectic journey into Chinese cuisine, there is no better place than this gastronomy lab on the Bund.

Bo Shanghai
Five on the Bund, Level 6,
20 Guangdong Lu, Huangpu district
+86 21 5383 3656

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