I’m straying from the Mandarin Oriental Pudong for a moment and briefly talk about my dinner at the 1* Michelin restaurant, PHÉNIX eatery & bar at The PuLi Hotel. This restaurant has Chef Pierrick Maire at the helm who has worked in some of the most prestigious kitchens in France like the 3* Michelin chef Yannick Alléno. His dishes deliver on flavor without being overly complicated and come with rustic touches and subtle Italian influences.
The eatery has been divided into two dining rooms, split in the middle by a bar area, which smartly creates a sense of arrival. Taking inspiration from the nearby former French settlement, the design firm has included low-key references to the Art Deco period in Paris, with the understated use of materials such as mother of pearl and rose gold which – lining the rattan covered tables – adds a sense of glamour while staying close to the hotel’s Asian heritage. A “cabinet of curiosities” meanwhile, showcases an eclectic collection of objects that add a touch of eccentricity to the polished space.
When dinner service started, we had our drink orders taken and not too soon bread service arrived. The small plate of warm, fresh baked boule arrived in a bed of grains and our waiter elegantly carved/scooped their house made, perfectly tempered pan of butter. I can easily eat these two and call it a night since it’s deeply satisfying with the flavorful bread and the delicious butter but there’s more to come.
We started with the cold dishes like the pretty uni, osetra caviar, green apple gelee and fennel bavarois. This was stunning to look at and generally very good. However the uni’s delicate flavors have been dimmed slightly with the apple and fennel. The slow cooked King Carabinero with pomelo, asparagus and cucumber chantilly was wonderful. Subtly sweet flavors from the prawn with a touch of juicy, floral, sweet bitterness from the pomelo and the vegetables to make it slightly earthy.
The seafood soup was inspired by the chef’s childhood memories. It’s a lighter take of the classic bouillabaisse. Incredibly bold seafood soup with saffron and tomatoes. The perfectly seared, sweet large scallop, dotted with squid ink and aioli.
We had the barramundi, clam ragu, potato puree with lemon verbena emulsion that looked like pretty contemporary art; the large circle of crisp surrounded by the verbena emulsion and red slices of red bell pepper and fresh flowers. Underneath the disk is the perfectly cooked barramundi.
The cumin marinated lamb loin with spiced eggplant cake was very good. The tender, medium-rare lamb gently flavored with cumin worked wonderfully with the eggplant that’s sprinkled with toasted pine nuts.
The roast duck breast, seared foie gras drizzled with almond gastrique sauce, tableside was delicious. The gastrique sauce was the key element to make all the rich flavors work. There were a small bowl of sliced figs topped with flaked almonds served on the side were good too though maybe disjointed.
We were quite full by the time dessert rolled around and opted for its lightest option: Shattered Dreams of the Perfect Vacherin. It’s an abstract, beautifully sad name for a dessert but to me, it tasted like a perfect vacherin. The lovely crisp shards of meringue, dehydrated slices of strawberry, thick yogurt, verbena to make it all cohesive.
It’s a delicious dinner and deservedly a 1* Michelin restaurant. The beautiful and tranquil atmosphere and polished service. I would definitely come back.