On trips back to Hong Kong, my favorite meals tend to either be of regional Chinese, or fine dining versions of Chinese, that are not easily accessible - or accessible at this level of artistry - in LA.
Shanghai Min is one such example. It's a branch of an upper mid-tier restaurant chain started in China, perched in a humble space in the mall levels of historic Man Yee Building in Central, the less ostentatious side of the financial district of Hong Kong.
From the moment we were seated, we could tell the care and pride they take with every element - instead of the staid and overused visual assault of red and gold typical to very old school Chinese restaurants, Shanghai Min gives a sophisticated nod to tradition via beautifully embroidered linens (albeit a bit self promotional, featuring the name of the place on the tablecloth and napkins).
Diners here also tend to be more refined, and respectful of the calming setting - no shouting to hear ourselves over loud conversations from neighbors, or clanging of dishes in the dining room here.
The lovely thing about Shanghainese food is simple ingredients, clean flavors. For our appetizer, we got Drunken Chicken - chicken marinaded in Shaoxing rice wine, and served with skin on. This is typically served cold, but Shanghai Min offers this dish slightly warm, in chicken & wine broth, the better to release the beautiful fragrance of the wine that has fused it seems like with the very DNA of the chicken, whose meat and skin are so smooth, tender and flavorful that it made me forget I don't even like chicken (except when fried, and apparently when *it's* 'drunk'). Does alcohol really make everything better? When it's used in food - YES. My only note is I wish the pieces were bigger, to even better showcase the texture and flavors.
These tasted as great as they look, again reflective of the craftsmanship at Shanghai Min - the fat to meat ratio was skillfully controlled to make perfect, juicy, melt in your mouth, flavor rich bites, and the bao were nice and fluffy, the kind you can tell is well made because they rise back slowly to its original fluffiness after you take a bite - smooth, not grainy and full of fragrant flavor. Perfect when opened up and stuffed with a bite of pork belly (soaks up all its rich juices).
Three of us were so stuffed after these dishes (plus bowl of noodles that my mom had to herself as she wasn't feeling well) that we didn't have room for dessert unfortunately.
All in all, a fine meal at Shanghai Min of classics, well executed - in a relaxing setting as a mid-day getaway from the sometimes frenetic energy of Hong Kong.
[For more photos of fun / good eats from my HK trip, check out the album on my Facebook page!]
On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 6 bites
Presentation - 6 bites
Originality - 5.5 bites
Ambience - 5.5 stars
Service - 5.5 stars
Overall experience - 6 bites
Price - $$ (2 bite marks)
Probability of return visit - 100%
*Note for tourists: No taxes are charged at restaurants in Hong Kong, but there is a service charge of 10% which is standard to all sit-down restaurants, which is basically the tip for your server. You are not expected to tip above this, though if you received exceptional service and wish to leave a little extra, you will make your server very happy.
Shanghai Min 上海小南國
Level 3, Man Yee Building, 68 Des Voeux Road, Central, Hong Kong
Ph: +852 2259-9393