Disclaimer: here at Time Out Shanghai we love Yunnanese food. And truth be told, a lot of our affection comes down to how much we enjoy the variety of cheese and potato dishes that feature in this cuisine. So when we got word of this spacious new eatery at the Hubin Dao complex beside Xintiandi, we were excited. But after trying a host of dishes, with some hits and some misses along the way, we’re struggling to pinpoint anything we felt we had to go back for.
Starting with the cold dish options, the beef rolls with mint (58RMB) set a high standard out of the gate. These neatly aligned curls of pinkish meat arrive beautifully presented and topped with plenty of chilli on a bamboo dish. The flavour is spot on, with the succulent, fatty beef balanced perfectly by the fresh mint, and the accompanying sliced cucumber offsetting any heat.
From the hot dishes, the scrambled eggs and jasmine flower (36RMB) sounds and looks interesting, but ends up tasting like moisturiser – or what we can only imagine moisturiser would taste like. The slightly dry eggs aren’t helped along by the jasmine flowers, which lend the dish an overly floral finish.
Things start to look up again with the arrival of the well-judged goat cheese (38RMB), served in thin slices with the traditional accompaniments of pepper salt and sugar. Hitting a similarly satisfying note is the Erhai dried milk sheet (28RMB), where the bowl overflows with crispy and flakey fried milk curd.
Meat dishes are also quite successful, with the chilli chicken (52RMB) and a duo of sautéed pork (32RMB) both good, if not overly memorable. The former is nicely spicy (water recommended) and has a lingering heat that slightly
overpowers the delicate chicken, but is tasty nonetheless. The latter offers pork served in two-ways; the first with a tasty chopped red and green pepper mélange, and the second with a more drab tomato and green pepper sauce.
Neither of the potato options we ordered from the menu are as tasty as hoped, with both the fried potato balls (48RMB) and the grated potato cake (48RMB) some what bland and failing to live up to their satisfying and carb-loaded potential. Sadly in our eyes, a waste of a good spud.
We had high hopes for this newcomer given the gorgeous fit out, floor-to-ceiling windows and picture-book-esque menu. Yet while the food was well presented and
the ingredients fresh, we found the kitchen didn’t nail the basics. There was nothing bad per se, but nothing that wowed us either – a good spot for lunch if you work in the area, but
otherwise not worth diverting from the likes of Lotus Eatery, Secret Haven or Beyond the Clouds.