Yong Yi Ting was my final dinner destination while in Shanghai. This restaurant sits 21 feet underground at the basement level of the luxury hotel with floor-to-ceiling views of a specially created sunken patio that bathes the dining room in natural light during the day.
Opulence greets you as soon as you step through the floor to ceiling glass doors of this fine dining restaurant. Ceramic lanterns shaped like Chinese wine jugs float along the eight-foot ceilings and complement the extensive wine cellar behind the elegant bar.
The local chef Tony Lu, the celebrated mastermind behind the Fu restaurants (e.g. the vegetarian, 1* Michelin rated Fu He Hui 福和慧 and Fu 1088, Fu 1039, Fu 1015) in Shanghai, is a consultant to the kitchen of Yong Yi Ting. Yong Yi Ting offers some of the most exquisite Jiangnan (Shanghai, Zhejiang and Jiangsu) cuisine I’ve tasted.
While I was reading the night’s menu, I’m particularly intrigued about the locally made Chinese wine in the mountainous region of Ningxia. I have read and heard of it but since it’s not exported widely to the United States yet this was my first time drinking these Chinese wines – and what I’ve drank that night were surprisingly good. The first Ningxia wine is a Chardonnay from Helan Qingxue Vineyard. Crisp, lightly fruity, not too sweet and pairs wonderfully with the cold appetizers.
The appetizers we started off with were the deep-fried sliced pomfret in sweet soy sauce with jasmine tea (茉莉花茶熏鲳鱼), marinated red clam in rice wine brine with cucumber (香糟青瓜红花蚌), soy braised ox tongue with basil dressing (五香牛舌罗勒酱). All were excellent especially the de-boned pomfret fish that’s crisp but retained some juiciness and the cubed ox tongue that’s cooked to the point that it’s supple like expertly braised pork belly is pretty mind blowing and the flavors of soy and basil sauce were delicious.
We saw at a nearby table having an amuse bouche that has a bright red orb with micro-herbs. We inquired what that was and was informed it’s tomato and candied lemon zest. Not entirely Chinese but we were intrigued. What we didn’t expect was the fact our waiter ordered it for us and served it! A very nice touch on service. The tomato tasted like the Platonic ideal of a tomato – incredibly juicy and perfectly ripened that it’s very sweet and the acidity isn’t too high.
The soup course of braised hairy crab meat with Nepalese grains and spinach in broth (蟹粉岩米菠菜羹) is a dish I am not too familiar with but based on what it was, it was very good and felt healthful.
On to the main dishes, we had the dong po rou or braised pork belly (东坡肉) with quail egg and fresh peas and the pork was misted with Cognac, table side. The pork belly was lip smacking good. The steamed white pomfret with Iberico ham in scallion oil (葱油火腿蒸白鲳) was a smart use of a Western ingredient (the Spanish Iberico ham) to a very Chinese fish dish and it was fantastic.
The dish that has Chef Lu’s fingerprint was the braised wild mushrooms and fungus with gluten puff (素烧面筋) and I’m particularly excited about since it’s vegetarian. I am well aware of the Buddhist diet that is purely vegetarian that existing well over a millennium and have eaten and enjoyed a few Buddhist dishes but not in the context of fine dining. This braised vegetable dish was incredible and I would happily eating this every few nights. The sweet-savory flavors and the meat-like textures of the gluten puffs felt hearty and satisfying on the palate.
I was informed that the restaurant’s dim sum team stayed late for us(!). We were humbled that the team was willing to wait for us to come to dinner and make three dim sum dishes for us. We had deep-fried spring rolls filled with shredded fish and hotbed leeks (韭黄鱼丝春卷) that were crisp and not greasy while having the filling cooked perfectly. The baked pancake Shanghai style (黄桥烧饼) were flaky pastries that were mostly savory with a hint of sweet. The steamed red shrimp dumpling with minced pork (招牌红虾小笼包) was a very good soup dumpling.
We had a long break before dessert was served – and it was the “White Rabbit” ice cream with a v-shaped doughnut. The nostalgic Shanghainese candy White Rabbit was infused into this rabbit shaped ice cream and thankfully it wasn’t too sweet. The dessert was paired with a semi-sweet Chardonnay from Ningxia from Domaine Fontaine Sable Cuvee N.61 – and it worked wonderfully since it’s not too sweet and overwhelming the ice cream.
What I didn’t expect to happen was to have a chocolate mousse birthday cake brought to my table! One of the reasons why I traveled to China this late was because I wanted to go somewhere for my birthday than staying in New York.
The multiple teams who work at Mandarin Oriental Pudong truly made this dinner and my stay incredibly special and I will never forget it!
Yong Yi Ting at the Mandarin Oriental Pudong
111 Pudong S Road
Phone: +86 21 2082 9888