Saturday, May 13, 2006

T8 Restaurant & Bar, Taicang Road, Xintiandi, Shanghai

T8 Restaurant & Bar, Taicang Road, Xintiandi, Shanghai
Saturday 13 May, 2006

In a former life Xintiandi was a tenement district lined with Shikumen or "Stone Gate" houses. These houses were distinctive for their blend of nineteenth-century eastern and western architecture, and bordered straight alleys, which featured entrance gates wrapped by stylistic stone arcs and private courtyards.

In 2001, Xintiandi was re-created in an attempt to breathe new life into the historical site where Mao Zedong established the first Communist Party. While the original Communist Party Hall has been preserved as a museum, Xintiandi has emerged as the entertainment district in Shanghai, with some of the finest clubs e.g. C.J.W (which stands for Cigars, Jazz and Wine, restaurants e.g. T8 and boutiques e.g. Shanghai Tang (modern Chinese clothing).

T8 is located down a narrow alley of 19th century stone-and-brick buildings. You enter on a slate path over fish-filled ponds. The lighting is dim and very inviting and the hosts (especially the lovely Lilly) are beautifully dressed and charming. Inside the dining room you can either sit in the large room that includes a view into the open kitchen to watch the chefs in action, or you can choose a more secluded table in one of the many semi-secluded nooks around the main room.

Tonight we were seated in what must be the best seats in the house - on the round tables overlooking the kitchen - the tables themselves represent drums and have a stunning low hung light over the middle. The seats are designed to hug the table with low backs (so there will be no reclining).

From the minute we entered till we were seated it was very impressive. When the wine & food menus arrived, we were even more impressed - the menu is sensational with lots of seafood and asian influences. The food is described as Mediterranean and Asian fusion by an award-winning Aussie chef - Stephen Wright, who trained with the likes of Marco Pierre White, Eric Chavot and Jeremy Stode.

For entrees, we ordered:

- Shooters & Spoons of the Sea - lobster bloody mary, tuna tarter nori tempura, kingfish with ginger and lime and oyster with apple and wasabi
- Sichuan skewered king prawns, octopus compote with garlic cream and crab spring roll

For mains, we ordered:

- Slow cooked lamb and sichuan high pie with yellow curry coriander bisque
- Assiette of duck breast, confit leg and foie gras
- Side order - wok fried chilli spinach

For desserts, we ordered:

- Chocolate & coconut sorbet
- Affagato with a milk chocolate & tea praline on the side

After we ordered, complimentary starters were delivered to the table by our delightful waiter who had impeccable manners, was discreet and one step ahead of us the entire evening:

- Passionfruit juice with coconut froth served in a shot glass
- Bread served in its own pot with butter and zucchini puree in side dishes

The food can only be described as 'I have died and gone to heaven'. Every dish was beautifully presented on unique shaped plates which changed for each meal. The flavours were fresh, the meals were prefectly portioned and I am almost lost for words to describe each individual dish. This is in all seriousness the best restaurant I have ever visited in China. The service was impeccable, the food was without fault and the atmosphere was stunning.

T8 is a must if you are visiting Shanghai.

T8 Restaurant & Bar - 8 Xintiandi North part Lane, 181 Taicang Road, Xintiandi, Shanghai - 86 21 6355 8999


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