Shanghai's best Western desserts

Shanghai's best Western desserts

In Shanghai, desserts mean decadence and these venues do it right

Recommended: Lemon & Lemon, Mr & Mrs Bund

CNNGo Best Eats - Western Desserts - Lemon & LemonIt might look like mere lemon, but this Lemon & Lemon dessert takes three days to prepare and is anything but tart.

We've yet to meet anyone who doesn't like Paul Pairet's signature Lemon & Lemon “tart.” user Casperxx puts it best when he says, “The [Paul Pairet] approach to lemon tart is mindboggling. Trust me. Go there, eat this.”

Pairet’s Lemon & Lemon is one of the iconic recipes he's carried over from his days at Jade on 36. He’s even developed a variation using an orange for his restaurant, Mr. & Mrs. Bund.

“The desserts at Mr & Mrs Bund are more creative and complex than you might expect from a restaurant going for a basic feel. The Lemon & Lemon tart is my favorite example,” says China Daily dining reporter Shi Yingying.

You'll be served what appears to be a whole lemon on a porcelain plate. Actually, it's just the perfectly preserved peel of a whole candied lemon, which has been carved out and then filled with lemon sorbet, lemon curd and vanilla Chantilly cream. The whole process takes three days.

Poke a hole through the candied rind and the sorbet-curd-Chantilly will ooze out. Take a small bite. Now, resist the urge to stuff the whole thing in your mouth at once.

If you're really dedicated (and have access to industrial kitchen equipment), you can attempt Pairet's Lemon & Lemon on your own.

Mr & Mrs Bund, 6/F, Bund 18, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Nanjing Dong Lu 中山东一路18号6楼, 近南京东路, +86 21 6323 9898,, hours: Monday to Friday 11:30 a.m to 2 p.m., Monday and Sunday 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m (last order), Tuesday to Saturday 6:30 p.m. to 4 a.m.

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Recommended: M Pavlova, M on the Bund

CNNGo Best Eats - Western Desserts - PavlovaQueen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Queen Sirikit of Thailand and HRH Prince Andrew of Great Britain are merely a few of the famous names who have said, "I'll have the M Pavlova please."

“The M Pavlova is definitely one of the best Western desserts in town,” says food critic Shen Hongfei.

M's Famous Pavlova is a meringue torte heaped with diced tropical fruit and glazed with a tangy passion fruit sauce. Dry and crispy on the outside and soft like angels once you dig in, the M Pavlova is far more flavorful than any beaten egg whites have the right to taste.

This is a must-try Shanghai dessert for, well, anyone, and M has the numbers to prove it. Fact: M on the Bund sold 694 pavlovas containing 1,250 egg whites in a single month in March 2010.

M on the Bund 7/F, No.5 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Guangdong Lu 中山东一路外滩5号7楼, 近广东路, +86 21 6350 9988,, hours: Monday to Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11:30 a.m to 3 p.m., afternoon tea: Sunday 3:30 p.m to 5:30 p.m, dinner: 6:15 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

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CNNGo Best Eats - Western Desserts - Grand HyattThe tiramisu at the Grand Hyatt in Pudong is worth crossing the river for.

Recommended: Tiramisu, Grand Hyatt Bakery

Sometimes, great desserts happen in unexpected places -- like hotel bakeries.

Here’s a place you might want to look up if you're a tiramisu fan: the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Pudong’s second floor bakery, which is adored by local diners.

Food editor Rica Lou clued us in and told us that she swears by this bakery's single-serving tiramisu, which she considers the best in town.

On, the bakery is rated 26 out of 30, with reviewers raving over the tiramisu, as well as the cheesecake, mango cheesecake, black forest and traditional chestnut and vanilla cake.

Jinmao Tower, 88 Shiji Dadao, near Yincheng Zhonglu 世纪大道88号金茂大厦, 近银城中路, +86 21 5049 1234,, hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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Winner: Orange chocolate mud cake, hoF

CNNGo Best Eats - Western Desserts - hoFIf the combination of chocolate, caramel and salt doesn't sound heavenly to you, then you haven't tried the orange chocolate mud cake at hoF yet.

Brian Tan has made a career out of supplying chocolate to Shanghai's masses, and those masses are demanding the orange chocolate mud cake.

“The orange chocolate mud cake is hugely popular with expats and locals,” says Tan.

The mud cake is a combination of dense chocolate cake, buttery caramel glaze and a sprinkle of sea salt -- a dessert with a well-deserved, cult-like following.

If the orange chocolate mud cake is sold out (and it just might be if you don't get there early enough), the "Death by Chocolate" cake should be next on your hit list.

The sweet is exactly what it sounds like -- the best chocolate cake in Shanghai.

For these and its host of other desserts, hoF maintains a consistently high rating on, where it holds an admirable -- and rarely achieved -- 25 out of a possible 30 for flavor.

Crowd favorites are all about the chocolate, from the mud cake and authentic fudgy brownies a la mode to Tan's artisanal truffles, which he crafts with imported chocolate and pairs with quirky flavors like osmanthus and jasmine. Don’t question the flavors until you try them.

“Ganlan” magazine editor Rica Lou says, “I frequently go to hoF. A lot of Western restaurants don’t have good desserts, so I’ll skip dessert and have it at hoF.”

She recommends the original hoF truffle in addition to the orange chocolate mud cake.

“Our original flavor truffle is a top seller,” says Tan. “It’s a classic truffle made with cocoa beans from Venezuela, soft and smooth with a high floral note.”

They pack a rich cocoa wallop, which pairs well with hoF’s affordable wine list and creative, Shanghai-inspired cocktails. It is a dessert bar, after all.

hoF, multiple locations, 30 Sinan Lu, near Huaihai Zhong Lu 思南路30号, 近淮海中路, +86 21 6093 2058, +86 21 6093 2052, hours: Tuesday to Thursday 11 a.m. to midnight, Friday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Meet the experts who helped us choose Shanghai's Best Eats.

Full Best Eats list and winners
Joanne Yao is a writer and editor based in Shanghai.
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