Oriental House (CLOSED)

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Modern
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Zhejiang
308 Anfu Lu

This venue has closed.

Perched on the second floor of a nondescript building on Anfu Lu, Oriental House is doing something different. Food aside, Chinese restaurants tend to hit one end of the aesthetic spectrum – grimy hole in- the-walls or blinged-out, tuhao-to- the-max dining rooms. Oriental House has arrived to fill the empty space in between.

The ambiance is chic and sophisticated, with sleek concrete and natural wood touches. You can imagine kicking back with a pre-dinner cocktail on your first Tinder date (or your once-a-month date night away from the kids).

And in fact, you should get a drink. The bar programme, run by Allen Peng formerly of The Nest, boasts a selection of signature cocktails like the tasty Aranyaka (75RMB). With raspberry puree and cassis liqueur, it’s rich and fruity with earthy undertones from mushroom-infused rum. You’ll want Peng’s riff on a Bloody Mary – the Sea Marry (66RMB) with seaweed-infused vodka and wasabi – to be better than it is. But the inspiration is there. In time, we hope.

The menu by Weihua Lin, previously of 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA, largely focuses on refined adaptations of classic Chinese dishes with a touch of fusion and plating that is emoji-100.

A clever play on traditional tea eggs, an order of petite rum-and pu’er- tea-marinated quail eggs arrive in a wooden box nestled in ‘dirt’ with a small bird figurine. Panfried dumplings (88RMB) have been stuffed with wild snapper and give an elegant twist to the quotidian potsticker. If it’s country fair food you’re after, look no further than the flower-adorned Shunde buffalo milk rolls (38RMB), which seem to be Shanghai’s answer to the deepfried Twinkie. Zhejiang preserved vegetable meigancai (梅干菜) has been mixed with minced pork, covered with cheese, then baked (38RMB). It’s unusual and delicious.

Not everything quite hits the mark. Unless you’re gifted with the most nimble of mouths, the tiny bone-in chunks of meat in lajizi-esque spicy chicken with peanuts (50RMB) will prove a pain. And curry okra? Great idea, but the reality is a bit of an incoherent mess, topped with minced pork (25RMB).

Sure, it’s not perfect, but Oriental House offers an indication of where casual Chinese dining might be heading – or at least where we hope it might be.

By Cat Nelson

Venue name: Oriental House (CLOSED)
Opening hours: 11.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-midnight Mon-Thu; 11.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-1.30am Fri; 11am-1.30am Sat; 11am-midnight
Metro: Shanghai Library
English address: 202 308 Anfu Lu, near Wukang Lu, Xuhui district
Chinese address: 徐汇区安福路308号202室