Review: Shang Palace at Shangri-La Jeddah
Shang Palace infuses time-honoured, classic Chinese dishes with a modern flair…
It begins with a walk down a long corridor, from the lift to the restaurant itself. Dark wood, flashy lacquered interiors, and Chinoiserie-heavy detailing accented with intricate lattice panels set the tone for an evening at Shang Palace, Shangri-La Jeddah’s fine-dining Chinese restaurant.
The restaurant is divided into four different generous spaces, in which the entire effect is meant to replicate the feel of the courtyard “siheyuan” houses. On one end, there’s The Collection, which offers a warm, relaxed atmosphere to create an indoor terrace-y feel. Then, there is the main Dining Room, where you’ll get a view of the duck oven and the intimate Living Room. Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves divided the sitting areas in The Library, where we’re seated.
All four spaces are unique, but there’s still a commonality in design. The traditional décor, although peppered with contemporary elements, can make you feel like you are teleported back in time, but Executive Chef Keith Yeap’s cooking will keep you present with his indulgent menu.
Soulful and modern Chinese cuisine
There’s a menu before us, and we glance through it, but we know we’re in good hands. Fifteen minutes later, we’re proved right as the first dish of the evening – Shang Palace dim sum platter (SAR135), comprising black truffle, lobster har gao, scallop siew mai with Beluga caviar, squid ink Chilean seabass dumpling, and crabmeat saffron dumpling – is set before us.
The chicken dumpling in hot chilli vinaigrette (SAR50) follows, as does the colourful Wagyu pastry puff (SAR85), shaped like a mini handbag – a hero dish that melts in the mouth, bursting with flavour, and possibly the most delightful looking dumpling we’ve ever eaten. Next comes the wasabi prawns (SAR140) and duck salad (SAR135). The duck is cooked perfectly – crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside – and scattered with mixed greens and a handful of sweet-sour pomegranate and pine nuts. Again, it is a pleasant dish that’s only let down by a lack of dressing.
With dim sum and appetisers done, it’s time for the big guns, which appear in quick succession. The pan-seared scallops stuffed with shrimp paste served on a base of asparagus and garnished with dry scallops, goji berries, truffle oil, and Beluga caviar (SAR345) is a beautiful dish. It is served with a light but intense broth rich with the flavour of pumpkin, while the generous chunks of scallop and prawn have a natural briny flavour – don’t miss this.
If you plan to order just one meat dish, let it be the jasmine tea-smoked beef rib (SAR405) – a dish where Chef Yeap’s culinary skills shine, and the play of texture and flavour stands out. Each glistening slice is juicy, tasty, tender, and dissolves with a single chew in the mouth. Flavours of smoke and fragrant jasmine tea burst forth from the meat. Simply sublime.
While the rib heaps on the flavour, the succulent chunks of Australian Wagyu beef tenderloin (SAR225) – cooked with black pepper sauce, garnished with fried garlic chips, and sitting atop a nicely done fried noodles bed – delivers less punch than we expect.
The egg fried rice with minced beef and truffle paste (SAR90) is ideal as an accompaniment. One gripe, though: It would have been better if it is imbued with more wok hei.
For our last dish, the Beijing-style “Zhejiang” noodles with minced chicken (SAR45) may seem more off-kilter to the local palates. But this braised noodles leans more towards the authentic and hits a specific culinary comfort zone for us.
Part of the fun of eating Zha Jiang Mian is salivating (while the server mixes all of the elements), and then slurping them up. The sauce is both intensely savoury and sweet. The noodles are chewy and al dente, coating each strand with the sauce. The shredded carrots and cucumber add freshness and texture and bring the dish together.
For desserts, Shang Palace Stones (SAR75) will suit those who prefer more fanciful desserts. Featuring chocolate twigs, jasmine and lychee-rose cremeux (shaped as stones), and matcha sponge cake, it resembles the Chinese garden found in the courtyard “siheyuan” houses.
Zero-proof cocktails that pack a punch
A restaurant is no longer just defined by its food menu alone. The beverage programme has become an essential component, and patrons dining at Shang Palace Jeddah can expect the best of both worlds.
General manager and award-winning mixologist Sanjin Dilaver is responsible for developing the mocktail menu at the restaurant. Each drink on the menu reflects the flavours of the Far East.
Hugo (SAR65) is a mix of sparkling white grape, elderflower syrup, mint, unsalted yuzu, green apple, homemade spice Oleo, and Botan citrus spice. It is an easy crowd-pleaser — light and fizzy with prominent kicks of citrus.
Next is the Forbidden Pearl (SAR65), a light aperitif made with cranberry juice, almond syrup, lychee puree, raspberry, spice Oleo, mint, and ginger beer. As much as we hate to associate mocktails with the tired “fruity and refreshing” label, Forbidden Pearl is exactly that, but better.
Lost In Time (SAR65) is another standout. The mocktail melds homemade mango puree, green jalapeno, coconut syrup, kaffir lime leaf, dragon fruit, ginger beer, yuzu, lime juice, and fresh mango in perfectly balanced proportions.
The zero-proof cocktails are definitely a testament to Sanjin’s spirit of innovation – and plus points for presentation.
Shang Palace also prides itself on its tea, and we recommend the mesmerising, colour-changing jasmine tea (SAR30). It’s like seeing a glow stick turn from a boring translucent-grey tube into a glimmering neon cylinder for the first time. After a few minutes, our tea cup looks more like a sapphire-blue pool, which, surprisingly, has a pleasing flavour with a subtle aroma.
A refined, classier version of the Chinese cuisine that has grown among the locals, Shang Palace Jeddah brings classic dishes while keeping the modern flavours intact. Its opulent aesthetic, its dedication to the ingredients it uses, and how it translates them into fine celebrations of the many facets found in Chinese cuisine make it a place worth visiting.
Shang Palace, 4th Floor, Shangri-La Jeddah, Burj Assila, Corniche Road, Ash Shati, Jeddah 23611. Ramadan hours: 8.30pm to 2am. Tel: 800 440 8888. @shangpalace_jeddah