Canton Disco at The Shanghai EDITION
Add: 2/F The Shanghai EDITION, 199 Nanjing Dong Road, Shanghai 南京东路199号 艾迪逊酒店2楼
Tel: +86 (21) 5368 9531
Price: 400-600 (prices below subject to 10% service charge and 6% VAT)
Visited: April 2019
Will return: Yes
Named after a legendary Hong Kong nightclub in the ’80s, Canton Disco at the Shanghai Edition hotel presents a lavish, quirky celebration of modern Cantonese cooking. The restaurant is modeled after the perennially popular Ho Lee Fook in Hong Kong, and marks the first mainland foray by the prolific restaurant group Black Sheep Restaurants.
The funky disco vibe manifests itself as soon as you step off the elevator to be greeted by a boisterous soundtrack. Slicing through the darkness of the foyer is a neon sign, reading “never never enough” alongside a dissected Chinese character “食” (food).
An expansive bar flanks one side of the restaurant wall to wall, lined with nearly 200 bottles that gleam eerily in the dim red light. The booths are outfitted with muted green leather, embraced in bronze partitions for intimacy.
This space feels like a perfect backdrop for Canton Disco’s menu, which reaches beyond the normal boundaries of Cantonese cooking in almost every way. Executive chef Mr. Jowett Yu imbues his food with a curious and engaging blend of fun, rebellion, and a gentle dose of nostalgia.
Many of the dishes here clearly have their roots in Mr. Yu’s childhood, such as “Mom’s ‘mostly cabbage, a little bit of pork’ dumplings,” which, as many will attest to, is the recipe for deliciousness. The gentle waves of comforting sweetness are brought into focus with a vigorously spiced sacha-soy dressing.
Mom’s “mostly cabbage, a little bit of pork” dumplings, sacha soy dressing (68)
Prawn toast, that wonderfully trashy snack, teams up with okonomiyaki, a Japanese savory pancake, for maximum effect; the crisp edges and tender prawns are punched up with mayo, tonkatsu sauce, bonito flakes, and dried seaweed. Wedges of fried corn engulfed in a golden blizzard of garlic crumbs are addictive in a way that invites childish squeals of delight.
“Prawn toast x okonomiyaki”, Kewpie mayonnaise, tonkatsu sauce, shaved cabbage, aonori (138)
Typhoon shelter fried corn, crispy garlic (100)
One thing that Mr. Yu doesn’t mess with is Cantonese barbecue. His roast goose is a textbook specimen of soft meat, gleaming skin, and rich, perfectly rendered fat; yet he puts his own gleeful spin on this ultimate classic with a side order of peanut butter-stuffed French toast, complete with butter, maple syrup, and condensed milk. It sounds crazy, and tastes ingenious.
Roast goose (288 / quarter)
Peanut butter French toast (58)
These nostalgia-charged creations are but half of Canton Disco’s appeal. The other half is fueled by inspired flavors and meticulous balance. A beef carpaccio is cleverly furnished with snow ear fungus for a mellow textural contrast; its intricacies creep up on you bit by bit, a subdued vein of savoriness and tanginess that seeps through slowly, shadowed by just enough heat to register.
Wagyu carpaccio, smoked beef fat chili dressing, snow ear fungus (138)
The roast short rib fanned impressively across the plate is a marvel of rich, melting meat enveloped in a decisive crust, with a deeply savory glaze that cuts through the fat; but what sets it apart from all the other expertly executed short ribs around town is the mess of green shallot kimchi on top, as well as a streak of roasted pepper purée for a murmuring heat. Like many other dishes at Canton Disco, the short rib is transposed from Ho Lee Fook, but replaces the original jalapeño purée with Hunan chili, as sure a sign as any that Canton Disco is more thoughtful than a simple copy-and-paste.
Roast Angus short rib, roasted Hunan chili purée, green shallot kimchi, soy glaze (728)
In true Chinese spirit, the menu offers a sizable selection of what our parents would call “fillers,” but that is too diminutive a label for Mr. Yu’s lamb dan dan noodles. The rye noodles supply depth and a hint of earthiness, augmented by the richness of sesame paste, a measured dose of cumin, and a flickering heat in a masterful command of flavors and dimensions.
Lamb dan dan noodles, rye noodles, sesame paste (148)
Sweet endings might not be so native to Chinese tables, but Canton Disco’s bubble tea brownie is not to be missed. In the recent tide of bubble tea-inspired desserts, sensibility is a scarce commodity, yet these chewy, bouncy tapioca pearls prove to be the perfect counterpoint to a rich, gooey brownie. Just as endearing are the fried dumplings swimming in a pool of chocolate sauce, filled with a soft, cinnamon-rich apple raisin compote in an indulgent twist on apple strudel.
Brownie bubble tea (78)
Apple strudel dumplings (78)