Friday, April 9, 2010

Shenghai Terrace Summer Tasting

A couple of weeks ago I briefly mentioned Shanghai Terrace in this post about a trip to Chicago. Well not only is The Peninsula AMAZING when it comes to affordable (and fabulous) fine dining-- they have a very nice grip on social media as well!

After finding me and seeing the brief post about them on Twitter, their PR team was nice enough to invite me (and a guest-- my Mom!) to a tasting of their Summer menu, in the Shanghai Terrace kitchen-- with all of their chefs including Executive Chef Kai Lerman and Shanghai Head Chef Ivan Yuen. Another notable personality is the dining room manager, Alan-- who can give you a great idea of what to order based on what you know you like.

It was a really fun experience, and I get to give you a sneak peek of the menu that will debut May 3. 

Our afternoon started with a Ning Sling, a completely refreshing yellow cocktail that just screams summertime. If you head out to enjoy an afternoon on the Terrace for cocktails I would highly recommend it.

We also tried their Basil Martini, which I'll admit-- I would never have ordered if I just saw it on a menu. But it was delish, and I'm looking to sweet talk my way into finding that recipe...

Now the menu we got to taste is going to be their lunch menu-- and it is so affordable, but with a fine-dining feel. The Dim Sum is only $6.00 and we got to try the Seared Pork Dumpling, the Green Leaves Shrimp Dumpling, the Shrimp and Chive Pot Sticker and the Shanghai Dumpling. My absolute favorite was the Seared Pork Dumpling-- it's served with a ginger vinegar and it was heavenly. My second  favorite? The Shrimp and Chive Pot Sticker. Basically the notes I took on my copy of the menu have stars all over it.
Next up: the entrees. We tasted the Rice Noodle Pot, the Organic Rice Congee, the Happy Red Rice, the Chao style egg noodles, and the Steamed Market Fish. Before I go into detail on each, I want to also say how wonderfully everything was plated, and how much Chef Ivan loves what he does.

We would ask questions: What spice is this? How did you cook that? And not only would he give us a very knowledgeable answer (like for example, traditionally in Asian countries it is really difficult to get beef, so you'll find a lot more pork and seafood in those places,) but he was also very excited about anything we asked. And anytime we complimented a dish of his, he was absolutely beaming... which I found endearing because it's not like he was serving food to someone with a really educated palette or someone famous. It just made him happy to cook great food for us-- normal people. So if you do check this place out-- just know that the guy behind the scenes is truly having a good time.

So back to the food. My favorite entrees (which by the way range from $12 to $16) were the Chao Style Egg Noodles and the Rice Noodle Pot (pictured below). This place has something for everyone. If you are looking for a healthy and light option, go for the steamed market fish. If you are a vegetarian- you'll love the Happy Red Rice (happy being the literal translation for pistachio- which are included in the dish... see the colorful picture below?) If you want beef the Rice Noodle Pot was to die for. The broth had a flavor that you'll want to go back for and the beef just melts in your mouth- having been cooked for three hours! (Am I making you hungry yet?) 

The Chao Style Egg Noodles has duck that was also so tender and flavorful and the noodles it is served with were also great! Finally the Organic Rice Congee almost looks like the consistency of oatmeal-- but it's actually brown rice and is so much more appetizing because it has shrimp, scallops and king crab. Yum!

Dessert included a tofu cheesecake, which doesn't sound amazing to me... but it was! It was fluffier and lighter than a traditional cheesecake, which makes you feel better about ordering dessert. We also had the asian pear and almond spring rolls which are served with this great peanut butter sauce (the pastry Chef is the very talented Celine Plano.)
Being in the kitchen, surrounded by the action, with all the chefs there asking us what we thought, was a great experience-- and thanks again to Susan and Ari for setting us up with the opportunity!

These guys do a great job interacting with their audiences and will offer up fun things like this tasting from time to time so I recommend following them on Twitter (@ThePeninsulaChi and @ShanghaiTerrace) or becoming a Facebook fan

Go check them out and tell Alan I sent you... he'll treat you like a VIP!


1 comment:

  1. really enjoyed reading about the menu and the wonderful day you had