Shanghai Surprise

Jo McGarry
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Friday - March 11, 2005
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Looking for a place to impress someone special this weekend? I can’t recommend anywhere more highly than the newly opened Shanghai Bistro. Located in the unlikely setting of the somewhat unattractive and parking-challenged Discovery Bay Center, this restaurant gets my vote as the best new restaurant in town. And the owners get my award for those most confident in their own success. Why else would they choose to be almost hidden away in Waikiki?

But find your way out of the cramped car park and rudimentary elevators and you are in for a dining treat.

Shanghai Bistro is not your traditional
Chinese restaurant, says owner Li May Tang

The restaurant’s décor is elegant and in extraordinarily good taste, immediately alerting the diner to be on the lookout for something different. Teak tables and chairs, soft lighting, a fabulous bar and a cocktail area fitted with comfortable sofas, lounge chairs and pillows draw you into an experience that is more than just dining. Handmade plates come directly from China and were made especially for owner Li May Tang, and a rare collection of antique teapots fill attractive glass showcases.

A separate dining room is available for large parties, and chef will cook a banquet tailored to meet your needs if the occasion is a special one.

The food is an intriguing mix of Chinese-Asian-Pacific Rim. And I struggle for a term, not because the food is difficult to describe, rather this is a restaurant obviously attempting to set itself apart.

“We’re not a traditional Chinese restaurant, “ says Li May (who also owns the splendid Hong Kong Harbor View at Aloha Tower Marketplace) “and neither are we Asian fusion. We’re a mixture of many cultures brought together.”

So delightful dishes such as Spicy Thai Seafood Soup ($11) — think remarkable tom yong meets bouillabaisse — appear alongside Vietnamese Salad ($7) and Peking Duck ($22) served in traditional style with bau buns and hoisin, or Western style as one of the most elegant burgers you’ll find.

Chef’s Live Maine Lobster ($28) is baked with black pepper and arrives at the table hot and wonderfully sweet. Try the Kung Pau Chicken ($15) if you need convincing that this guy is cooking at an extraordinary level. The Hot and Spicy Tenderloin Steak ($18) is as tender and well-seasoned as any steak I’ve had, and for something a little different, try the whimsical Crispy Bacon Tofu Rolls ($5).

The staff appears to appreciate what’s going on in the kitchen and does a good job of explaining to guests that “this is not your average Chinese restaurant,” preparing them well for the dishes that are ahead.

If you’re a foodie worthy of the name, then make a reservation now. In a city that hosts some great culinary names, there’s a new place in town.

Shanghai Bistro
1778 Ala Moana Blvd.
Suite UL10
Reserved validated parking
for restaurant is available.
Call 955-8668 for reservations.

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