New Chef Executive from HK Gives Shang Palace Menu a Homey Twist

Aside from the exceptional hotel experience Shangri-La is well known for, there are other three things I specifically love about Makati Shangri-La. One is for the paradisiacal experience in the city where celebrations are abundant and memorable, second is for their excellent Japanese food, and third is for their delicious offering of Chinese, especially Cantonese, cuisine.

The third one is the reason for my most recent visit. Its Chinese restaurant, the Shang Palace, has a new executive chef from Hong Kong who did a makeover on the well-loved menu.

When the Dim Sum plates and appetizers came out, we were all going, “Start pa lang ‘to ah.” The dishes were so familiar yet exciting – and no less than satisfying.

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Steamed pork dumplings with fish roe

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Steamed crystal skin shrimp dumplings

Fellow Dim Sum lovers, do not fret. The classics, like the steamed crystal skin shrimp dumpling and the steamed pork dumplings with fish roe, will remain. He said only about 30-40% of the menu will be changed. Chef Ben is wise – he knows which ones are for keeps.

“Shang Palace is upholding the classic Cantonese dishes, but for our latest array of sumptuous treats, my new creations are inspired by a combination of Asian and Sichuan touches, making them less formal and less evocative of lauriat style, but more traditional and homey,” Chef Ben said.

Shang Palace - Water pan-fried Shanghai Pao

Water pan-fried Shanghai Pao

Shang Palace-Fried onion flavored flaky cake

Fried onion flavored flaky cake

The water pan-fried Shanghai Pao and the fried onion flavored flaky cake are bound to be new favorites in the new Dim Sum menu. The bread of the Shanghai Pao crumbles in your mouth at the first bite and its sweetness and saltiness compete with each other, but they end up in a draw – they’re balanced, not overpowering the other. The fried onion flavored flaky cake, on the other hand, is cooked just right.

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Chilled sliced salmon with ginger and scallion

The highlight for a lot of us from the appetizers was the chilled sliced salmon with ginger and scallion. I’m a salmon person so this dish really stood out for me. Needless to say, the salmon was fresh. The ginger and scallion made good companions – they added flavor but they did not take away the unique texture of the salmon.

After the appetizers and the Dim Sum came a rare treat – the ceremonial opening of the Shang Palace fortune chicken. I have heard of this specialty dish but I have never had the opportunity to witness the novelty in its presentation.

Shang Palace-opening of Fortune Chicken

One of the guests were given a hammer of sorts to tap on the bread that covered the dish and the bread was sliced open to reveal the lotus leaves that wrapped the chicken and the herbs that adorned it.

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Shang Palace fortune chicken

It was definitely a beauty. Chef Ben revealed to us that it’s the most difficult dish to prepare – it takes about six hours! The work that goes into it makes the dish even more special. We were advised to give a call at least 24 hours before if we plan to order this on our next visit.

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Poached wanton with vinegar and chili sauce

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Stewed Sichuan chili duck

Chef Ben said he likes playing around with his spices. It seems like he has it down perfectly because we raved about his Sichuan dishes – the chili duck and the poached wanton. The sauce of the wanton was so good, some used it as a dip for the fish crackers that were left on the table as the pre-appetizer staple. The spiciness of these two dishes were not spicy painful or spicy shocking but it was a kind of spicy that lingers gently in the mouth.

“We are more than happy to have Chef Ben and his Hong Kong style in the classic Shang Palace. His creations evoke the same effect as the Filipinos’ adobo or sinigang. Each dish has a familiar flavor that creates a comforting feeling,” Agnes Chuah, operations manager of Shang Palace, said.

No one could have said it any better. After sampling the new dishes, I was left content. I felt like I was served the wonderful dishes in the comfort of my own home.

The new offerings will officially be implemented in the menu by July 18.

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