The stars behind the stars | Updated: 2016-12-31 04:54

The stars behind the stars

Clockwise: Wagyu Beef and Sea Urchin Sushi Roll by Kanpai Classic, Jinxuan's Braised Chile Cod with Mushroom and Spring Onions in Casserole, Yong Yi Ting's Braised Lobster with Gnocchi and Winter Bamboo Shoot in Sour Broth, Sir Elly's Sea Salt Smoked Black Cod, Classic Milanese Veal Chop by 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Compressed Strawberry 95 by PHÉNIX eatery & bar. Photos provided to China Daily

Restaurant: Kanpai Classic ★

Dish recommended: Wagyu beef and sea urchin sushi roll

Kanpai Classic is the only yakiniku (Japanese grilled meat) restaurant to have won a star in the inaugural Michelin Guide Shanghai.

Its chef, Ryo Ishihara, believes that the dish that helped his restaurant stand out among the hundreds of others in the city is the Wagyu beef and sea urchin sushi roll. While marbled beef has long been a favorite on the grill because of its fat content, chef Ishihara believes that it is the leaner part of the meat that has been underrated. He said that he decided to pair the meat with sea urchin, a coveted seafood in Shanghai, because it added a different flavor dimension and visual appeal to the dish.

“Cooking is like math. Mediocre cooking is doing addition. Good cooking is about multiplication,” said Ishihara.

Restaurant: Jinxuan Chinese Restaurant ★

Dish recommended: Braised Chile cod with mushroom and spring onions in casserole

If there is one thing chef Daniel Wong has learnt during the 24 years he has spent in Cantonese kitchens, it is that the freshness of fish is determined by the minute. In order to preserve freshness, Wong said that fish should only be steamed.

It comes as no surprise then that one of the bestsellers at the restaurant is the braised Chile Cod which is popular all year round.

“To qualify as a chef, you only need hands to follow the rules and cook. To excel, you need everything above your neck,” said Wong.

Restaurant: Yong Yi Ting ★

Dish recommended: Braised lobster with gnocchi and winter bamboo shoot in sour broth

Chef Tony Lu isn’t quite sure if “gnocchi” might be an appropriate term to use, since the food, pronounced “mian ge da” in Shanghai dialect, is a low-budget dish that is mostly made at home as an “emergency food” when a housewife has little time to prepare for a proper meal. Regardless, the dish has proven to be a crowd favorite. He has also changed the taste profile of the dish by using marinated yellow peppers from southwest China’s Guizhou province for spice and lemon for sourness, saying that these ingredients are more effective at helping diners stay warm during winter.

“I am often asked if this or that is quintessential Shanghainese cuisine. The essence of Shanghainese cuisine is, like the city, inclusive and adaptable,” said Lu.

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