April 26th, 2012
Nadine Kam photos
While in Shanghai from April 11 to 18, I spent my first two nights acclimating at the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong, with its stunning views overlooking the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, one of Shanghai's Top 10 landmarks.
Every time I return from a fashion week, people ask if it was fun. "Fun" is never the right word. "Exciting, calamitous, busy, crazy," would all be better. They also ask if I ate a lot, but it's hard to do both because fashion weeks are so demanding.
That made the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong, a good starting point for acclimating to the city, not only for leisure, but for anyone doing business in the area. I could get up and go, with a full breakfast ready and waiting at a buffet at Scena Italian restaurant. It's geared in equal parts to Western and Asian travelers with regional hot dishes, congee and a few dim sum and dumpling options, but for me it was hard to pass on such at-home favorites as bacon and eggs.
And I'm not much into congee because of experiences of traveling to Hong Kong when I was a kid with no control over the table. I had to eat congee every day for breakfast when visiting my grandfather, so now that I do have control, it's easy enough to avoid it.
For about 300 RMB (recently about $48) per person, here's just some of what I ate for breakfast at Scena. If you plan on going, the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong, is at Shanghai ifc, 8 Century Ave., Lujiazui. Call +86 21 20201128 or visit http://www.ritzcarlton.com.
If you do go, find a Chinese friend who can write down the address for you in Chinese characters. The cabbies don't speak English and don't even recognize the names of the major international hotel brands. I found out the hard way very late on a rainy night, spending 100 RMB more than I should have on a very long cab ride. Luckily, cab rides are the most affordable aspect of Shanghai living, where cost of living matches Hawaii, though typical salaries are half to a third of what we earn.
The view from Scena by day.
Spinach dumplings and juicy pork hash.
Thick, chewy Shanghai noodles, the way I like 'em.
The restaurant was busy, busy, busy and the kitchen was full. I didn't realize the chefs had cleared out of the space when I took this photo of one of the cooks preparing eggs to order.
With soup popular as breakfast in Asia, diners could opt to have any of these noodles, veggies and dumplings prepared in soup to order.
A whole lotta lox.
What's breakfast without bacon?
Broiled salmon and eggs.
Roasted potatoes and tomatoes.
Many of the breakfast items were also available in the VIP Lounge, with the addition of some regional specialties including roast duck, crisp sweet baby shrimp and roast pork, and below, somen topped with smoked ahi, wasabi cream sauce and tobiko.
Returning to the 52nd-floor Scena later for an Italian lunch, I found most people couldn't resist the variety of appetizers, salads and mostly, desserts that awaited those who picked the buffet that came with a choice of entree. Here's some of what was offered with my choice of the squid salad entree, which was so ono. The squid had plenty of flavor where it typically has none here and the braised purple cabbage was wonderful, making me wish we had more options like this on local menus.
A buffet appetizer of pumpkin puree with shrimp, vegetables and capers.
An assortment of breads meant there was also a bountiful cheese and jam selection nearby.
Smoked, peppered white fish.
Pasta and green salads also awaited.
There was also a selection of cured meats.
A meringue tree with sugar-flocked strawberries was among the dessert selections.
Creme brulee too perfect to disturb.
Fresh fruit is an important dessert option in Shanghai, and at the Ritz-Carlton, an array of berries, melon and dragonfruit top a custardy tart.
More fruit. I was told dragonfruit has been more popular than usual during the Year of the Dragon
Individually portioned desserts.
I had a small piece of this delicious chocolate bomb, with a rich mousse interior.