April 6, 2016 / 1 Comment
Feeling like a spot of good Chinese comfort food, I decided it was a good excuse to finally give Shang Palace a crack. Housed in the rather dated-by-Dubai-standards Shangri-La on Sheikh Zayed Road, I had expectations that Shang Palace would too be dated in style, but if it’s still hanging on that has to be a sign that they have great food right?
Well I was right on the style side of things – stepping into Shang Palace is like taking a time machine back to 1988. And yes, I am very familiar with what 1988 Chinese restaurants and 1988 Chinese food looked like – it was the cuisine du jour back then and as a child I spent many occasions running under the tables and slurping wonton noodle soup while my parents and grandparents dined on their favourites in suburban New Zealand and Australia.
Adamant not to judge a book by it’s cover, we take our seat in the eerily quiet venue and peruse the menu. No background music on offer here which makes you feel you have to speak quietly and infrequently, something I dislike vehemently at restaurants. Surrounded by tables of business men discussing important business matters (obviously), we felt a little out of place in an environment that felt cold and unwelcoming despite the plethora of warm red and gold fabrics surrounding us.
Our table was nestled alongside an open balcony that overlooked the atrium lobby below – gazing down on people killing time in the murky brown and orange lobby took away from what little atmosphere was hanging in there. But on to the food.
For starters we ordered the vegetable Spring rolls and vegetable dumplings, being the only two vege appetisers available. My first bite into the spring roll resulted in a ‘hey, these are pretty good – maybe the food IS going to be excellent here’, but that enthusiasm soon dissipated when I bit into the vege dumpling and discovered they had used exactly he same filling in both. Uninspired and lady cooking was the thought that hit me in that moment – and that proved to be a theme that continued throughout the meal.
What we ordered:
Wok-fried duck breast with pineapple and green vegetables – 78
Wok-fried crispy shredded beef with sliced celery, peppers and bean sprouts – 78
Sizzling short rib with leek and broccoli in black pepper sauce – 128
The beef short rib sounded delectable on paper and I’d lined it up to be the favourite dish of the spread. How disappointing to see what came out – just nondescript slices of meat and veg slathered in an unappetising brown sauce, on a sizzling platter that had seen better days. Those days looked like they were about ten years and 1000 dishwasher cycles ago. It’s really time to replace some of the crockery guys.
After short rib, one or my favourites, had been killed, it was time to annihilate another favourite – duck. This dish really didn’t resemble it’s duck origins in any way, and if you had asked me what meat it was I probably would have said pork. The sauce was exually as cornflour laden as the beef and resembled something you’d get our of a packet. The flavour was pretty nondescript and had no life, no freshness to it. Just heavy, gluggy and brown.
The most enjoyable dish of the meal was the crispy beef, and it bore a strong resemblance to Din Tai Fung’s crispy beef, but sadly Din Tai Fung’s version is twice as good at half the price.
Shang Palace seems to be for those who like their Chinese food stuck in a timewarp – but perhaps their clientele are stuck in a timewarp too. I wouldn’t go there If you’re craving some delicious Chinese cuisine, splurge at Yuan or save at Din Tai Fung.