Back in 2009, the PuLi Hotel and Spa opened its doors not far from NanJing West Road, in the dynamic area of JingAn district. A last minute trip to one of the world’s greatly prized destination…
Shanghai City. It’s been a while! Late 2017, I promised myself I had to go back as part of my new year’s resolutions. I figured this wouldn’t happen as I was supposed to spend the entire year in New York. We never know. Indeed, while I was in Paris for Christmas, my mom asked me if I wanted to head to China before flying back to the United States. Without a second I said yes.
I feel like Shanghai is somehow home but in the meantime, it seems so unfamiliar. I haven’t been there for about six years or so and it has changed so much! I was rediscovering this crazy vibrant place. I used to follow my family when I was younger and this is the reason why I don’t know the city very well. Growing up, I learned that the best way to master somewhere new is to wander. Get lost. Take your map out and go.
While studying the luxury industry I was always reminding myself how China was resourceful back then, before its image was reduced to “made in China”. When silk and porcelain were reflecting the country’s wealth, jade was also one of the most precious stones – nothing like its durability, quality and shine. There is a lot to remember when it comes to the roots… I am convinced that its past greatness is hiding in the surroundings and ready to resurface, strengthened.
Never not spotting the rare gems. This is when I found out about the PuLi. Located by the JingAn temple, the area is quite vibrant – from business to shopping and entertainment. With a direct view on the park, it looks like the green space is part of the luxury hotel – for the pleasure of our eyes, waking up in such a metropolitan city and being able to taste bits of nature. In the meantime, it reflects the chef’s culinary philosophy “life is about the ingredients”. Isn’t it indeed how you implement elements into your existence to make it the best you want it to be?
Michael Wilson is originally from Australia and joined the PuLi in 2012. His interpretation of French cuisine got him awarded a star from the Michelin Guide Shanghai 2017 for the Phénix. Rendez-vous on level 2 to have a closer look into the eatery and bar.
The selection on the menu goes from charcuterie to seafood. Even if I believe that most people would find their happiness on the lunch set menu, I would suggest to add one more vegetarian option on the à-la-carte.
One of the specialty to share includes the whole duck neck sausage, parsnip, kumquat, endive – pictured above. Cut in front of you, the waiting makes you more excited to try it, especially when you have several sauce options. To go along with that, the raw and cooked heirloom carrots, fromage blanc dukkah, sorrel are a good balance. I mean… veggies for life! The whipped chicken liver parfait éclair, cherry mustard, toasted almonds was very surprising. As much in the taste than in the presentation which literally looks like a fusion between an éclair and a Paris-Brest. I would recommend to share this one as the texture of it can become quickly filling. I also decided not to opt for the typical French dishes as I like being astonished by new savours. Just like for instance the venison tartare, Jerusalem artichoke, sea lettuce mushroom, cocoa – unusual and very different from the regular beef tartare. It was my first time trying this meat and for those of you who wonder, be aware that it is quite strong.
As for the main course, I went for fish as I am on a quest of reducing red meat for ecological and health purposes. The black cod, pāua abalone, celery bacon écume, oyster cream will often be a safe bet, very subtle and well-balanced while the red sea bream, artichokes barigoule, piment d’Espelette, clam aioli is more audacious. Depending on your comfortability to eat crispy scale, you can keep it or leave it!
I say it most of the times and will stick to it: there’s always room for dessert! Believe it or not but when a different chef usually takes care of the sweets, Mr. Wilson, himself, does it all and does it well! The pear and suet pudding, thyme crème anglaise is presented like an individual flower-like tart, not too sweet and perfect to finish this not-so-typical French meal.
What are you tempted by next? a drink at the Long Bar, a swim in the 25-meter infinity pool or a resting spa session? Until next time for sure! I am so ready to come back and order the typical dishes when I’m going to miss it (because I will endlessly miss French food at some point, no matter where I am in the world)!
The PuLi Hotel and Spa
1 ChangDe Road, JingAn District
Shanghai 200040 China