Friday, September 2, 2011

savoring summer at shanghai terrace

i usually try to write entries based on chronological order of when i visit a restaurant. but i am gonna skip ahead a couple of restaurants (i promise i will write about those soon) and you'll find out why soon enough. 

i wanted to do something different this summer in chicago.. fests were in the plans but i missed most of them. xy suggested outdoor dining at the rooftop which i thought was an absolutely great idea i looked up a few restaurant that offers rooftop dining and finally agreed upon shanghai terrace at the peninsula.


located on the fourth floor at the peninsula hotel, it is smacked right in the heart of downtown on michigan avenue. since it was on a weekend, i called to make reservation and was told that there was no guarantee of an outdoor table pending to the weather and availability but they would try their best to accomodate. so reservation for 5:30pm it was.

 
seeing how early our dinner reservation was, there were ample of outdoor dining tables to our choosing. the weather was quite nice - chilly and quite a bit too windy but it was great to bask in the sun (although somewhat fleeting) with a couple of cocktails. in fact, it was too windy that as xy was browsing the menu, one of the pages flew but luckily was caught by a shrub much to everyone's amusement. couple of minutes later, xy did a super hero save on a wine glass that was about to roll off the table next to us after toppled over by the gust of wind which earned him an applause by some of the diners. haha. 


 


i loved the ambience at the outdoor dining area. it was cozy with a nice backdrop of downtown chicago with familiar skyscrapers filling the skies although xy mentioned he would have preferred to dine somewhere higher than the fourth floor. regardless, we started out with cocktails.



 cocktails :: the ning sling | absolut mandarin . lychee . fresh mint . passion fruit .


xy and i both ordered the same drink but i requested for a virgin cocktail. i thought it was delicious, fruity flavors merried well with the subtle cooling mint sensation that made it oh so refreshing. xy said he could hardly taste the alcohol in his. $15 for the cocktail while mine was $7.


cocktails :: shanghai lemonade | canton french ginger liqueur . patron reposado . lemon & lime juices . ($15)


i took a sip and thought it tasted like margarita. could definitely taste the alcohol in it and christina seemed happy with her drink choice.

after several minutes, we decided to move our meal indoors because the wind wasn't working in our favor. the staff was very accommodating and friendly and got us a table within minutes.  one thing i noticed was that most of their staff are chinese. (not that there is anything wrong with it just makes me wonder if it is a requirement to be a server there for authenticity purposes) the decor indoor reflected chinese culture with accents of red around the room. 



i dunno if we were bitten by the 'duck cravings' bug but all of us wanted to order a duck dish in some form. after much discussion, christina and i decided on sharing their three course prix fixe which is priced at $128 per couple and xy was fixated on the crispy duck from their a la carte menu.

three course :: carved roasted peking duck | mandarin cakes . cucumber . scallion . hoisin sauce . plum sauce .


the main reason of ordering this three course menu. roasted peking duck is a famous dish from beijing prized for its thin, crispy skin and delicious aroma. and the chef at the shanghai terrace got both the criteria accounted for. i love when i can assemble my own food cos i could add as much ingredients as i'd like or not have them at all. the tender and moist gamey meat which was seasoned well contrasted perfectly with the crispy duck skin and the warm soft mandarin pancakes that tasted it was made from scratch. the combination of both hoisin and plum just rounded off these bite size treats. it was a tad messy to assemble and eat but it was a  good kind of yummy messy :) 


it was a generous amount of food that xy had some as well.  very delicious.. so delish that before christina and i were even done with this dish, we were already planning a possible next visit here just for the peking duck. if  you are not interested in three course choices, you could also get the peking duck a la carte priced at $32 for half and $64 for the whole duck.

three course :: duck salad | toasted almonds . tangerine . truffle peanut vinaigrette .


the idea behind this three/five course meal is to use the rest of the duck meat (after carved for the first dish) as an ingredient for the other dishes. it was a petite salad with some strips of duck meat nestled in a crispy fried wonton cup. the server breaks the nest of wonton at the table as they serve it to you.


i took the first bite and i smiled - mmm truffle. the earthiness of the truffle paired beautifully with the peppery greens which was coated lightly by the sweet vinaigrette. i loved, loved, loved the salad. it was so good and an excellent recommendation by our server. we were surprised when they brought out an extra plate of salad for xy just because they were just plain nice.

three course :: duck and e-fun noodles | braised . asian vegetables . chilli . xo sauce .

the chewy noodles which tasted freshly made were coated with the savory xo sauce with diced vegetables and duck meat. christina and i both liked it but thought it paled in comparison to the first two dishes. tasty but not blown away. 

i asked our server if they served this menu all year long to which he answered yes to the peking duck but the entrees on the prix fixed list may vary. 

meat&poultry :: crispy duck | pickling spices . mushrooms . asian vegetables . ($31)


as it was served, the duck looked uber crispy just as the name suggests. it was served with a side of rice and hoisin sauce for dipping. xy offered to share his entree since he had much of ours which i gratefully took a piece to try although i was pretty stuffed by this time. it tasted like it was brined/ seasoned very well and the exterior was crispy which would be great with plain white rice to mellow the saltiness. the meat itself was not as tender and moist as the peking duck and we all agreed that peking duck was superior in comparison.

we passed on desserts but we ended our dinner on a sweet note. they brought truffles with almond paste in the middle where the chinese characters of wealth and long life carved atop each chocolate. yummm! 


i truly enjoyed my dining experience at the shanghai terrace where tasty food is served in a cozy environment. one thing i loved was that it was dining in a fancy setting without being pretentious. our friendly, patient and funny server that night made the night even more enjoyable. 

pricey? yes..but that is to be expected considering it is a restaurant in a lovely hotel in the middle of downtown chicago.

would i return? most likely on a special occasion and especially for that carved roasted peking duck. mmm...thinking about it is making me crave for the delicious goodness!

disclaimer this is written based on my personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others

Shanghai Terrace on Urbanspoon

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