Enter the world of Grand Shanghai and you will be transported back into the olden city in the 1960s. Red cloth, dark wood, green lanterns, and black and white photos are central to the thematic decor. Immerse in a musical journey as the live jazz band plays the evergreens of Teresa Tseng and Cai Qin, belted by a songstress with a mesmeric voice and beehive hair.
You can choose to come with your family of ten, or strike a business deal at the cosy cushioned corner suitable for four to five. The serving staff is dressed in a uniform of maroon top and black bottoms, and ensures that your jasmine tea is always filled.
The elaborate decor and price is an indication that this is a dining place for businessmen to sign deals or for that special family celebration. The specialty dishes include Crispy Duck ($48 for whole), Baked Rice with Crab ($38 per portion), Deep Fried Prawn with Special Sauce ($8 per 100gm), Braised Superior Sharks Fin in Brown Sauce ($45), and Wuxi Spare Ribs ($7 per piece). You can opt for the set menus which range from $48 to $88 per person.
Shanghai dishes are usually characterized by the use of heavy and highly flavored sauce. Although the chefs hail from Shanghai, the food is modified to suit local taste, and thus not typically ‘Shanghainese’. They also serve specialty dishes from Yunnan, Beijing to Wuxi.
Despite the rather hefty prices to the dishes, the food here was slightly disappointing. The Crispy Duck, which is a cross between ‘kong bak pau’ (pork in dark soya sauce) and Beijing Duck, was not crispy and too bony for my liking.
The Wuxi Spare Ribs could have been a lot softer, and still had a slight lingering smell of pork. Although there were bean sprouts which added some crunch to the sharks fin soup, the taste was not exquisite enough and the stock was bland enough to need more flavours.
The consolation was the Deep Fried Prawn with Special Sauce, lightly fried with a unique salty taste of hot sauce within the shell. I suspect that the restaurant is also better at their cold dishes such as Crispy Eel ($14) which was sweet and light to the crunch, and smooth and tender Drunken Chicken ($12).
If you want to spend the night ala Wong Kar Wai’s “In the Mood for Love” style, you would appreciate the setting which looks transported from his movie set. The nostalgic atmosphere will be suitable for mothers who sing along to Teresa Tseng’s Xiao Cheng Gu Shi . This is a place you pay for the lovely ambience and experience, but not for the food.
Grand Shanghai, 390 Havelock Rd Level 1 Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel Singapore 169662 Tel:+65 6836 6866
Opening Hours: Tue–Fri & Sun: 11.30am–2.30pm, 6.30pm–10.30pm; Sat: 6.30pm–10.30pm (Closed on Mon)