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New tastes spring up

05-14-2010 13:57 BJT

After a prolonged, rainy winter, spring has come to Shanghai and with it the endless barrage of restaurants trying to lure diners with new spring menus. Offerings make use of fresh, seasonal ingredients including mangoes, bamboo shoots, seafood and more. The Global Times takes a look at a few of the many restaurants around town where you can sample the tastes of the season.

The Green Coral Crab. [Photos: Courtesy of Xindalu and Simply Thai]
The Green Coral Crab. [Photos: Courtesy of Xindalu and Simply Thai]

Exploring a fruit pathology

Simply Thai is "mad for mangoes," offering a number of special dishes to showcase the sweet, tangy flavour of this tropical fruit. The Mango Salad (55 yuan, 8.10 U.S. dollars) combines mangoes, kiwifruit, dragon fruit and cashews with a zing of tamarind dressing. The Fried Crispy Fish & Mango (128 yuan, 18.70 dollars) features a crispy, fried market-fresh perch coated with a tamarind sauce with mangos and Thai herbs.

For an after dinner mango experience, there's Mango Cake (38 yuan, $5.60), a creamy angel-food cake with a thick layer of fresh sliced mango.

For those not so "mad for mangoes" there's the vegetarian Stir-fried Bamboo Shoots with Thai herbs (48 yuan, 7 dollars). A Shanghai favorite, fresh spring bamboo shoots are stir-fried with Thai eggplant, fish sauce, lemon leaves, chili and black peppercorn. Be careful. It looks tame, but it's actually quite spicy. For strict vegetarians, the fish sauce used in the dish can be replaced with salt.

Chinese food goes seasonal

The Chinese restaurant Xindalu at Hyatt on the Bund is offering a wide selection of Chinese dishes using ingredients in season. The Green Coral Crab (268 yuan, 39.20 dollars), not to be confused with the hairy crab in season in the fall, is prepared with a steamed egg custard and rice wine, exhibiting strong, vibrant colors.

The wok-fried Chilli Eight Treasure dish (168 yuan, 24.60 dollars) incorporates Australian scallop, abalone, sea cucumber, shrimp, chicken, pork, bamboo shoots, and ginkgo. All the "treasures" combined in the chilli sauce are meant to create a synergy of taste.

Another wok-fried dish of Tender Bamboo Shoots (88 yuan, 12.90 dollars) presents this seasonal vegetable in a simple way. Diced ham and shepherd's purse are used to give the bamboo a salty and savory flavor.

Salads with some new elements

The "spring and summer 2010" menu at Element Fresh offers new salads, like the Chilean Grilled Beef Salad (88 yuan, 12.90 dollars) which mixes Chilean style spicy beef with avocado, hearts of palm and mixed greens. There's also the Grilled Primavera Salad (68 yuan, 10 dollars), a vegetable salad with artichokes, eggplants and a touch of parmesan cheese. The Cajun Shrimp Salad (65 yuan, 9.50 dollars) is billed as the top recommendation, dominated by the spicy, marinated shrimp in a style taken from the southern US.

The crab and asparagus linguine relies on sautéed lump blue crab meat with garlic and olive oil, crunchy asparagus, white wine, red pepper brunoise for what has been promised to be a light, refreshing meal.

Strawberries gone wild

Chatz Lounge in the Millenium Hotel is hoping to attract the after-dinner set with a series of cocktails and deserts featuring strawberries. Those looking to grab a drink can choose from strawberry-flavored standards such as a strawberry daiquiri or strawberry margarita to more atypical beverages such as the Strawberry Blond (white wine, strawberries, lime and soda). For dessert, Strawberry Tiramisu, Strawberry Cheese Cake, Strawberry Crème Brulée, Strawberry Tarts, and a Coconut Strawberry Sponge Cake are all offered.

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