Monday, December 8, 2008

A French Encounter @ Kee Club, Shanghai

Hah, my first post about our trip to Shanghai and it had to be French... see the enormous influence the french had on this part of China? Heather wanted to celebrate my birthday (which incidentally was more than three months ago but she had to remind me about my age...) never one to refuse a good food offer and not about to start now. When she mentioned we'd be going to an exclusive club and having French... panic... I imagined gentlemen in suits and ladies in flowing evening gowns. With the cold weather and travel-light policy, the only presentable item on this 'some pa lau' (in Hakka dialect) from Tamparuli was maybe her leather boots. The story of her life - the 'I-have-nothing-to-wear' issue (wonder if psychology has a term for this condition?)....Heather saw the look on her face and kindly told her 'casual smart' is fine. Oh, that's a relief! 
Kee Club Shanghai is newly opened, the first Kee Club opened in Hong Kong but  is strictly members only. I was told that here in Shanghai it would be open to the public until end of this year after which it will be 'members' only too (membership now available at RMB9000 annualy, anyone interested ?).
The club is nestled in the beautifully renovated 1920s Twin Villas behind the cast-iron gates at 796 Huai Hai Lu. It has a very European feel with  plush furniture, antiques and fine art.
The place feels very luxurious and expensive but in a very cozy, homely and relaxing manner and I think I can get used to this lifestyle... :p
Chef William Mahi heads the restaurant specialising in French Mediteranean cuisine, I am not familiar with french food and I am embarrassed to tell here that among the very few encounters that I had, the only memorable (and not exactly favorable) one was some escargot drenched in butter and garlic many years ago.  
I was rather glad I didn't have any choice over the menu selection... in fact I didn't even get to see the menu. Heather had everything planned and all I needed to do was show up. 
A potato puree (excuse my calling a potato a potato, I have no idea what this dish is called) with a touch of truffle oil. Exquisitely light yet tickled a whole array of senses in the palate. Amazing. I wouldn't have minded if I were served a soup bowl of this.*hint*

The chef called this 'tuna sandwich' - certainly not what I usually pack for lunch. Caviar sandwiched between two pieces of sashimi-grade tuna with the lightest of dressing and garnishing.
Foie gras and sweetbread with a sprinkling of coarse sea salt.

Baby calamari and cherry tomatoes with a light citrus dressing. Simply gorgeous. 

Everything on the plate was edible, yes, even the flower which I had mistaken for a rose at first glance.

So good that Leanne mopped up every bit with the bread. A excellent starter course that really whet our appetite. 

Wild sea bass as the main dish. Look at the plating - the baby clams appeared like butterflies fluttering around. 

This was perfect. Fresh, cooked just right and with the lightest of gravy, the flesh was soft and sweet. The passion fruit added a refreshing, tangy flavor and complemented the seafood in a most unexpected manner.
There must be a title befitting this creative dessert but since I had no access to the menu nor the bill, I hereby christened it 'ChocoHalo'. A golden brittle caramel ring sits atop a tunnel of thin crisp chocolate waffles (?) with a scoop of rich coffee ice cream inside. This skillfully crafted delicacy rests on some hazelnut chocolate fudge with a deliciously rich dark chocolate sauce. So sorry we had to sink our teeth into this magnificent work of art.

Heavenly and sinful all in one mouthful...

A cup of peppermint tea and the company of my girls after a beautiful meal... wishing the rest of the family were here too.
We heard Yoko Ono arrived  at the club that night too, we didn't bother looking out as we were not exactly  fans but then we had to spend the rest of the evening explaining to Leanne who Yoko is. It was so warm and comfortable we stayed and chatted until the wee hour with the kitchen pampering us with some tiny delights every now and then.

Mini chocolate truffles, cookies and lemon tarts...

Sweet strawberry macaroons...truly an enchanting evening to remember. 


"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

omg..wat a nite..that must have been some bill that u couldnt have seen..

Anonymous said...

This is always a big pleasure for me and a personnal satisfaction to make the people happy when they discover my kitchen.
I know if i remember you loved my Sea Bass of 30 second?

This dishes was created specially for this event and the chocolate ganache too...This night i want something special in mouth....:)

On this some words i hope see you again around our table for the most of the big pleasure of your taste bud.

Gourmand friendship,

William Mahi
Chef de cuisine
KEE Shanghai

terri@adailyobsession said...

wah, even the chef writes to u!

never tried western food in shanghai, but now i must. amazing. heather, u better still be there next year.

daisyfused said...

hehehe... come, come, aunty terri. :) i promise you many culinary delights.

mi ah... I MISS YOU LA!

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

update faster bah!

Denise ^ ChickyEGG said...

woww.... so hang fuk o !

a feast, everyday said...

joe, good thing i didn't get to see the bill...:p

William, so sweet of u to drop a line and thank you again for a lovely evening. Hope to see u again soon.

terri, my computer together with all my pics went to sweden without me n i can't blog without pics.

denise, can eat (sak tat) is always 'hang fook'...