A tribute to old Shanghai – this is Shanghai – Archyde

The space

Located in a historical building more than hundred years old near Sinan Mansions, at silane You will find a gateway to the Paris of the East, a homage to the bygone era of old Shanghai before WWII.

Picture by Sophie Steiner/That is

Picture by Sophie Steiner/That is

The restaurant is split over four levels with only private rooms – suitable for parties of four to 40 people. Each and every room is named after a famous street in Shanghai from the early 1900’s and is furnished with relics of Shanghai’s past – with influences from East and West – in an upscale living room.

Picture by Sophie Steiner/That is

Picture by Sophie Steiner/That is

A muted color scheme of red, blue, and green runs like a thread through this tiered venue, with antique lounge chairs surrounding large tables, vintage brass lamps that emit a warm glow, rotary dial phones from a time long before the word wireless was invented , gilt phonographs, gold tassels, heavy velvet curtains and tessellated stained glass windows interspersed with much worn wood.

The restaurant evokes a sense of old-school opulence, representing a time of splendor in our great city’s past that we can only capture through books.

The food

The menu focuses on Shanghainese dishes popular over the last century, all served banquet style on a lazy susan.

Picture by Sophie Steiner/That is

Cold dishes start with a rotating selection of chips Mixed Celery with Sakura Shrimp (RMB68), refreshing and delicate.

Picture by Sophie Steiner/That is

This is contrasted by the harrowingly crisp crunch of Frittierter Aal (RMB168), sautéed in vinegar and sugar sauce and dusted with fried ginger.

Picture by Sophie Steiner/That is

Traditional Shanghai Smoked Fish (RMB188) can be found in every canteen in town xunyu, but the rendering at Silan is elevated so that every bite sizzles with flavor and exudes a tart balance of aromatic vinegar, sugary rock candy and a lingering kick of Shaoxing wine and ginger.

Picture by Sophie Steiner/That is

Picture by Sophie Steiner/That is

Commonly eaten in neighboring Nanjing, Cooked young pigeon in salt water (RMB128) decorates the table, along with its vegetarian alternative Vegetarian Goose with Black Truffle (RMB88) – crispy tofu skin spring roll-like rounds filled with crunchy veggies.

DSC07029.jpgShanghai-style fried river prawns (RMB 268), Picture by Sophie Steiner/That is

Picture by Sophie Steiner/That is

A primer for the appetite, Boiled Shitake Mushroom with Baby Cabbage Soup (RMB98) is the epitome of what connoisseurs of Chinese cuisine describe Qingdan – delicate and light, soft in taste, fresh, elegant.

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Entrees delve into the luxurious side of things, showing how hosts would show wealth, treat their guests to the best, and build deeper relationships with their guests.

Picture by Sophie Steiner/That is

Glittering chunks arrive first Braised Pork Belly (RMB288), or Hongkong, dripping in a sticky onyx-colored sauce that’s best saved for the rice to add to the meal later.

Each cube is a mosaic of succulent meat and melting fat, a bite that confirms its right to be used in a number of different cuisines across the country.

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For a balance of meat to fat that tends towards the former, but still packs just as much (or arguably more) flavor than the pork that Braised Beef Ribs with Nuts (RMB468) sees cubes of tender meat covered in a sugary glaze and sprinkled with pistachio crumbles.

DSC07046.jpgBraised Large Yellow Croaker with Pepper in Casserole (RMB688), Picture by Sophie Steiner/That is

Picture by Sophie Steiner/That is

not as Mapo-Tofu (RMB368) Dishes from Sichuan, this version comes with various pieces of seafood, plus a topper of scattered crisps Guoba Rice – the burnt layer of rice grains puffed up and crunchy for a crunchy textural contrast to the plush pillows of tofu.

DSC07037.jpgBraised River Eel and Sea Cucumber with Shallot (988 RMB), Picture by Sophie Steiner/That is

Picture by Sophie Steiner/That is

The lid of a clay pot is removed from the table to reveal a kind of casserole Fish Maw Boiled Rice with Assorted Delights (RMB468).

Cubes of abalone and softshell turtles, meaty strips of beef tendon and fish maw – plus mushrooms – are stewed on top wuchang dami (五常大米) Rice. Endemic to Dongbei, it is a coveted variety that many consider to be the highest quality in the country due to its long grain structure and harder texture, which allows each kernel to retain its distinctive shape.

As the rice steams, the flavors of the other ingredients drip down, providing a consistently flavorful and filling finish to the meal, while the outer edges of the rice crackle for contrasting texture throughout.

Picture by Sophie Steiner/That is

In usual Chinese fashion, dessert options are less sweet, with a focus on soups and fruit dishes.

We recommend the Stewed Milk with Longjing Tea (RMB58), a game on shuangpinai, or double milk pudding, is commonly eaten in Guangdong but made with China’s alternative to matcha: earthy Longjing tea from Hangzhou.

The atmosphere

Would you like to feel like a celebrity from old Shanghai, being served by white-gloved waiters in rooms where even non-smokers crave a cigar between their lips? this is your place

Picture by Sophie Steiner/That is

Eating here makes you feel like you should do business at the shop factory. They feel that lunch should be accompanied by a glass of scotch. Clean. They feel bonuses should be easy to come by… and just as easy to lose in a casino full of showgirls.

It’s like a page straight out of a Paul French book brought to life. And for that, it’s worth the price.

Price: RMB300-700
Who is going: Shanghai’s celebrities, wealthy Shanghainese, history buffs
Good for: Shanghai cravings, Lazy Susan banquets, munching on Chinese delicacies (expect lots of sea cucumber, abalone, fish maw, sinew, and the like)

See listing for silane.

Continue reading Restaurant reviews in Shanghai.

[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That’s]


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