La Société, Shanghai
High-end Cantonese dining set in 1920’s opulence, La Société is the hidden gem of Shanghai. Secluded in the historic YWCA Building in the Rockbund complex just off the Bund, it is the most fabulous place I have experienced in a long time. Cloaked in marble, mirrors, leather, dark lacquered panelling and the most amazing wallpaper – think Great Gatsby meets Chinese dynasty. I fell in love upon entering the foyer, never mind the food.
Firstly, one point to note is that you won’t find a menu written in English and the impeccably dressed wait staff also don’t speak a drop. This reassured me that I had come to a very special place that few tourists are yet to discover. Fortunately we were very swiftly introduced to the restaurant manager Kenneth Yang who spoke perfect English and from that point we were left in his very capable hands.
It’s not surprising that the total indulgence that followed was so sublime; Head chef, Ma Kwai Ming, has joined La Société from three-star Michelin Lung King Heen at the Hong Kong Four Seasons. Classic Cantonese dishes are made with the finest ingredients and beautifully presented.
Not knowing what was going to reach our table we expectantly greeted each dish with excitement. Succulent strips of barbecue pork, duck and beef, crunchy daikon and bean curd parcels were greedily received.
Unison ‘Ohhhh’s’ and ‘Ahhhh’s’ broke out when a whole crispy duck was wheeled in and we realised peking duck was the next delicacy. My only criticism, there simply was not enough. Three pancakes in and it was wheeled away. Our pleads for more seemed to have got lost in translation and resulted in the last three pancakes being divided into five portions. So good but gone too soon.
The outstanding dish of the night was the crab. Meaty filled portions of crab, still in its shell were lightly battered in a delicious combination of breadcrumbs, chilli and salt. The meat was delicate and sweet. By far the best crab dish I have experienced.
The next instalment was a little more intriguing. A soup-like dish of egg whites with crab meat and fish roe. It was very tasty but the texture and all those egg whites prevented me from scraping the bowl clean.
The most decadent of dumplings concluded our feast. Definitely the best execution I have seen on how to pimp your dumpling. And it was damn delicious. I could have eaten about five more.
And it is for that reason that I had to return to La Société, when my man Kenneth mentioned that they do an outstanding dim sum. And so I conquered lunch too. The most exquisitely fresh, beautifully presented and delicious dim sum I have had the pleasure of devouring.
I am officially in love with this place. The decadence of the interior, the atmosphere which exudes style and sophistication, and the glorious presentation and quality of every dish. And I haven’t even mentioned the views, stunning by day or night. What makes this establishment even more remarkable is that the prices are so reasonable. Far less than what you would expect to pay for the same experience in London.
An absolute must visit in Shanghai, but keep it a little hushed as I still want it to be untainted for when I return.
La Société: Huangpu District, 133 Yuanmingyuan Rd, Y.W.C.A Building Rockbund 8F, Shanghai, China (note it’s a little tricky to find and with minimal signage. Enter the building at 133, and use the lift to access the restaurant foyer.)