We showed up at Lady Bund—the restaurant is built next to the Sheraton Grand Hangzhou Binjiang Hotel, but is its own entity—only to find that there would be another competing tasting crew there along with us, which meant that both ends of the table were converted into food-photo booths for the respective rags, and the multiple photos between plating and consumption meant that everything was a little more lukewarm than the chef intended, I’m sure to everyone’s chagrin.
Nevertheless, this was an extended and fantastic meal. Contra how Lady Bund Shanghai has been described, most of the dishes we enjoyed weren’t “asian fusion”; the most Asian fusion-ey dish I enjoyed was the Honey Cheese Tofu (丹桂花蜜芝士豆腐 58RMB), which—spread on toast—was a startlingly delicious dessert turn for an ingredient I hadn’t really considered in those terms, and it had the consistency of a more velvety sweetened cream cheese.
The Foie Gras Terrine with Blueberry (蓝莓果味鹅肝酱 138RMB) is served with baguette slices. I had this early on, along with the cheese tofu, and… I’ve had foie gras served alongside sweets and fruits, but I’ve never encountered it prepared so explicitly as a dessert, and the Lady Bund chef makes the rich, buttery, delicate taste and texture an obvious, natural pairing.
The central features of the meal were typically more classic European and American faire, although perhaps ones that might be unfamiliar to a Very Traditional Chinese palate, like the delicious Lyon Style Seafood Clam Chowder (里昂鲜蛤海鲜浓汤 68RMB). I’m a strikingly dignified person and I have a reputation for restraint to maintain, but I slurped every drop of this stuff down; I haven’t had clam chowder in years, and this hit me in my nostalgia bone hard. The other soup, French Style Onion Soup with Cheese Bread (法式洋葱汤 68RMB), was also a Very Good classic, and again one that I haven’t had for a while. There’s something to be said for providing simple, expertly-done classics. Case in point, the all-Chinese photo team we were dining with didn’t seem to know what was in front of them most of the time:
Really, all the appetizers hit the spot; the Snow Crab & Prawn Spring Roll (雪蟹鲜虾手指春卷 58RMB) was particularly great, particularly as it was oversized—think of a baby’s forearm—it was more defined by its deliciously moist ingredients than typical smaller, tighter, dryer rolls are, where the insides accent the crisp exterior rather than the other way around.
The real standout to me though was the Restaurant Signature Seafood Paella (招牌西班牙海鲜烩饭 228RMB). An aside: I had never had good paella before, it’s always struck me as essentially an inferior form of fried rice that China, Japan, Thailand or Korea could (and often do) do better. Lady Bund provided something special though, it was creamier, less fishy, more of its own special thing than all other paellas I’ve ever had.
The main dishes arrived: Slower Baked Beef Short-Bone Rib in Teriyaki Sauce were (低温慢烤澳洲和牛肋排 /短骨/照烧汁 450克, 398RMB) phenomenal, with meat falling apart at the touch of the fork. Likewise with the Provence Style Baked Cod Fish (普罗旺斯香烤鳕鱼 130克, 188RMB).
The desserts: The Valrhona Lava Dark Chocolate Cake (法芙娜黑巧克力熔岩 58RMB) is delicious, but the name spoils the surprise! The Restaurant Signature Light Cheese Cake (爆浆青提咸芝士蛋糕 58RMB) —sounds boring, right?—does it much better, smuggling in a creamy lava-ey filling under that plebeian-sounding guise. Once I dug my fork in and the filling started pouring out, we sent it back for a second round of photographs.
Lady Bund expertly elevates fine dining staples above and beyond expectations, and puts unique twists and interpretations on everything else.