5 of Shanghai's best tasting menus

5 of Shanghai's best tasting menus

The best of the best you can get in the Shanghai dining scene

The latest food trend in Shanghai is degustation --  a five-to-nine course culinary experience to showcase a chef's highlight reel.

We've hunted down the top five Shanghai degustation menus, each representing a different dining style.

1. Best secret tasting menu: M1NT Restaurant and Club

Tenderloin Steak with Dipping SauceM1NT's tenderloin steak comes with three dipping sauces.

While M1NT doesn’t have an official tasting menu, it is available upon request for RMB 300-500 a head.

We were blown away by Chef Grant Brunsden's parade of dishes, whose highlights include grilled langoustine with yuzu pepper sauce, M1NT’s signature tuna and avocado tartar, pan-fried Chinese foie gras, a tenderloin steak with three dipping sauces, and steamed black cod marinated in miso.

The sommelier is on hand to pair wines with every course, enhancing every tasting to take it to the next gastronomic level, although this service is optional.

The dessert sampler is nearly over-the-top with a selection of all house specialties, including a rich tiramisu, a silky walnut pannacotta and a chocolate cake with a molten center. 

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M1NT, 24/F, 318 Fuzhou Lu, near Shandong Zhong Lu 福州路318号24楼, 近山东中路, +86 21 6391 2811, 7 p.m.–late, www.m1ntglobal.com/club-shanghai

2. Best latin tasting menu: Chicha Lounge 

Pork Causas with TomatoEduardo Vargas' pork causas with tomato.

Chicha Lounge in Sinan Mansions serves up a nine-course Peruvian tasting menu with a twist, for RMB 250 per person (two person minimum as dishes are served to share).

Chef Eduardo Vargas has based each plate on a Peruvian classic, but updated them with his own personal touch and flair.

The menu changes weekly based on whatever ingredients are freshest. Some of the stars of this tasting menu are the fresh sea bass ceviche with ginger sesame lime dressing, the Peruvian-style mushroom wontons to pork “causas” with tomato and aoili and the turbot cau cau-style on yellow sofrito with mint, peas, and tomatoes.

Save room for dessert though -- the lucuma tres leches uses a special Peruvian fruit with a truly unique flavor. We have yet to find the lucama fruit elsewhere in Shanghai. 

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Chicha Lounge, Building 33, 55 Sinan Lu, near Fuxing Xi Lu 思南路55号思南公馆33号楼1-2楼, 近复兴西路, +86 21 6418 0760, Sunday-Thuday, noon-1 a.m.; Friday-Saturday, noon-2 a.m.

3. Best luxe tasting menu: La Table by Maison Pourcel

Scallop Baked with Pastry CrustScallop baked with pastry crust is our pick on the three-star Michelin chef's menu.

The three-star Michelin Pourcel Brothers offer perhaps the most luxurious tasting menu in Shanghai at their restaurant, La Table by Maison Pourcel, for RMB 1,198 per person.

This is a proper fine dining tasting menu -- after all, the French introduced the concept of the degustation menu in the first place.

It’s hard to pick standouts when every one of the nine courses is flawlessly executed by chef Christophe Lerouy, but our favorites are the lobster and vegetables terrine, duck liver and cepes raviolis on purée of baby pumpkin and the suckling pig with pear-quince compote and crispy skin.

The most theatrical dish is the scallop baked with fava beans and a pastry crust. As the server breaks the bread seal, steam is released and a delicate briny aroma wafts over the table.  

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La Table by Maison Pourcel, 8/F, 35 Shaanxi Nan Lu, near Changle Lu 陕西南路35号8楼, 近长乐路, +86 21 6215 8777, 5:30–10:30 p.m., www.maisonpourcel.com  

4. Best seasonal tasting menu: Jean Georges

Chocolate Fondant CakeJean Georges' menu provides one of Shanghai’s best renditions of a classic chocolate fondant.

Leave it to Jean Georges to make a good thing even better.

At Jean Georges, chef Kin Lam delivers a seasonal tasting menu for RMB 1,288 per person, based on what is available, in season and at its freshest possible state.

In this seven-course French tasting menu with Asian accents, we couldn’t get enough of the steamed cod with spiced jade emulsion, the caramelized foie gras with fresh longan and passion fruit, and kingfish sashimi with chipotle emulsion.

The sommelier is happy to help pair wines with the courses to bring out the intensity of the flavors. Our favorite item in the dessert sampler is the chocolate fondant with its gooey molten center, which is certainly among Shanghai’s best rendition of a classic chocolate fondant. 

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Jean Georges, 4/F, 3 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Guangdong Lu 中山东一路3号4楼, 近广东路, +86 21 6321 7733, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 6 p.m.-11p.m., jean-georges.com

5. Best vegetarian tasting menu: Stiller’s Restaurant

Black Truffle Risotto with AsparagusStiller’s black truffle risotto with asparagus makes us rethink the meaning of a tasting menu.

Before Stiller’s, it was hard to imagine a gastronomic menu without rich delicacies like foie gras and lobster, but then Chef Stefan Stiller completely made us rethink the potential of the degustation menu.

Simple vegetables, nuts, eggs and such are transformed into eight courses of sophisticated dishes that would give any oyster or Wagyu dish a run for its money.

Highlights of the RMB 598 menu include kumquats carpaccio with red cabbage and chestnut soup, a poached egg with young leeks, and mushrooms and black truffle risotto with asparagus praline.

We are equally impressed by the dessert, a tart and soufflé with chocolate mascarpone foam, that manages to be both rich in taste but light on our already full stomachs. 

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Stiller’s Restaurant, 6-7/F, Bldg 13, The Cool Docks, 505 Zhongshan Nan Lu, near Fuxing Dong Lu 中山南路505号13号楼6-7楼, 近复兴东路, +86 21 6152 6501, 6 p.m.-10:30 p.m., www.stillers-restaurant.cn 

Joanna has been living and traveling in Asia for more than five years -- from Bangkok to Singapore and now Shanghai, where she lives in a lane house in Jing 'An.

Read more about Joanna Hutchins