I have known indeed restaurants for whom a club vibe really works -- Armani/Aqua, for example, exudes that hipper-than-thou vibe that tells you that whether or not the food is good, you're in a place to see and be seen. But the press release for Shanghai Lo, the new Shanghainese restaurant opened by the folks behind Loyal Dining, claimed it has dark, clubby interiors to match those of The Tonno club downstairs, in whose building the new restaurant sits. Seemed rare for a Chinese restaurant.
When we went to check it out for ourselves, Jeremy noted that this was a restaurant in which an old man like him could seriously injure himself (he has a tendency to trip in dark places, you know, like those treacherous Abercrombie and Fitch stores). No one did fall down, and in fact, we had a rather nice night in a lovely and sophisticated venue. The food was passably good, and the ambience enjoyably private -- but it was the service that was absolutely stellar. They changed our plates after almost every course (so often that I suggested the environment would suffer less if we changed plates every two courses, but the waitress replied, "Then we wouldn't have anything to do!"), kept our tea cups filled constantly and made thoughtful suggestions for the most part. Whether this was because they were genuinely nice or because word had gotten out that I'm a journalist, I will never know, but I'm inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.
The highlights for me when it came to the dishes were the crispy vegetarian goose, the sliced pork with bread wraps, the eel and the fluffy egg white ball dessert thingies, which normally come stuffed with red bean but here are filled with custard instead. Yums (we ate them so fast I didn't get a pic)! Basically, if you choose the things that are pictured on the menu, you won't really go wrong. Portions aren't the biggest, but the dishes are reasonably priced so you can order a lot, never a bad thing.
Shanghai Lo is at 1/F, 5 Tonnochy Road, Wan Chai. Tel: +852 3125 3232.