Sunday brunch is a Shanghai institution for office workers who, having slogged through their week, want to kick back and tuck in to a good feed. This meal, while often good value for money, often comes with an appropriately lavish bill.
The Westin Bund Center Shanghai is a legend among the Sunday brunch set, bringing free-flowing champagne, live entertainment for all and a spread that is still understated when described as "extravagant."
Not everyone needs to stuff themselves silly, however, so starting tomorrow the Henan Road property is offering something a little different with a 98 yuan (US$14), plus 15 percent tax, all-you-can-eat dim sum promotion at its Eest, The Crystal Garden restaurant.
While the term dianxin has come to signify any manner of small dishes or snacks, dim sum refers specifically to the Cantonese light dishes consumed during a typical yum cha (tea drinking) session.
With myriad Cantonese eateries in almost every bustling Western metropolis, most expats are likely to be familiar with the dishes on offer during a typical meal, such as char siu bau (steamed BBQ pork bun), dumplings and cheong fun (rice noodle rolls), among others. More exotic offerings include phoenix claws (fengzhua/chicken feet) and innards, which put some diners off while thrilling others.
EEST is taking the popular concept one step further by adding Japanese and Thai dishes to the mix. The Asian dining outlet offers about 100 dishes from all three sections, presenting ridiculous value for money from 11am to 2pm.
The Chinese selection includes some of the plumpest crystal shrimp dumplings this side of the country, while the crispy radish cake with XO sauce is best when dipped in fiery hot chili sauce. Steamed glutinous rice with chicken (lor mai gai) is top dog for a staple, albeit a little dry.
The Chinese menu also features congees, noodles and soups as well as various vegetable dishes to balance the meal.
Japanese fare is popular among the local set, and the options listed on the menu are worth sampling as well. A selection of maki (sushi rolls) including salmon, egg and cucumber, to name but a few, whet the appetite for the korokkes (potato cakes) that come in a few different flavors. More substantial are the grilled meat and fish as well as the onigiris (rice balls), noodles and rice.
Sukiyaki (Japanese steamboat) lovers can also opt for the hot pot to be brought to the table, and additional ingredients can be purchased; pork balls cost 30 yuan for three while two pieces of Australian Wagyu striploin can be had for 220 yuan.
The Thai offerings at EEST are sometimes underrated, but veteran chef Somwong Suitum has kept his kitchen churning out solid dishes consistently.
The deep-fried chicken wrapped with Pandan leaves was superb, with just the right touch of moisture, while the stir-fried rice noodles with shrimp and tamarind sauce was a typical Thai dish, full of sweet and sour. Curry lovers are not left out either, with a red pork curry on the menu.
The traditional Thai dessert of red rubies with jackfruit and palm seeds was also exquisite.
The Westin already packs in huge crowds for its champagne brunch offering downstairs, and hopes that 1,000 diners can squeeze into the property with this tasty deal when Sunday comes.
The hotel is also celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year in style. EEST is presenting two set menus at 488 yuan and 688 yuan per person from February 6 to February 13, while The Stage downstairs will serve a hairy crab buffet dinner with a free flow of soft drinks on February 6 for 328 yuan per person. All prices are subject to 15 percent tax.
Address: 88 Henan Road M., Shanghai
Tel: 8621-6335-1888 ext 7370
(Shanghai Daily February 3, 2008)