Shanghai Surprise

The main surprise here is that this place is far from full, because it has the makings of a rather good Chinese restaurant

From Time Out Abu Dhabi Eating Out 2010

While those who remember the wretched Madonna/Sean Penn vehicle Shanghai Surprise might not wish to be reminded of such things, the real surprise here is that this pristine hotel effort actually has the makings of a decent Chinese restaurant, which makes its emptiness all the more puzzling. A glance around its formal blend of browns and creams – like parting the foam in a large cappuccino – confirms a neat operation. Meanwhile, the menu appears as if rescued from some ancient Chinese temple. It’s a large, well-thumbed tome, which suggests that little has changed since it (and the restaurant) were first opened some four years ago, but steady cooking, the atmospheric sizzle from the open kitchen and a bit of flair make it a reliable, if not exactly ground-breaking entry.

Dishes like the chicken satay, which arrives in the form of a half-dozen spears of chicken suspended above a primitive mini-barbecue containing a few still smouldering embers, shows off Shanghai Surprise at its best. But a few more authentic Chinese dishes wouldn’t go amiss on a menu which aims to please rather than inspire. There are no real surprises, which is why it probably doesn’t capture the imagination like it should, but this is a sure bet for a good meal.


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