Less is more when serving presents from nature

Nested in a quiet corner of the century-old Ruijin Hotel, The Pine at Ruijin is one of the most anticipated new openings of the season. 

Nested in a quiet corner of the century-old Ruijin Hotel, The Pine at Ruijin is one of the most anticipated new openings of the season. 

The garden lounge establishment was created by the Light & Salt group and it’s different from any of their previous restaurants. 

With an unparalleled waterfront terrace and elegant backdrop of pine trees, this new, picturesque dining space combines neoclassic interiors with the view of a classical Suzhou-style garden.

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Lobster rice

The kitchen is headed by Malaysian-Chinese chef Johnston Teo, who has extensive experience working at some of the world’s best restaurants. He was the research and development chef at Odette, a two-Michelin-starred restaurant and in the top 10 of the world’s 50 best. Teo also worked as sous chef at the one-Michelin-starred Iggy’s.

Now in the soft opening period, Teo’s first menu at The Pine has already received rave reviews. 

Only set menus are offered for both lunch and dinner with prices ranging from 297 (US$47.1) to 897 yuan, depending on the number of dishes.

Tasting Teo’s cuisine is like unwrapping presents from nature. His “less is more” philosophy and impeccable modern techniques are reflected in the dishes that respect local and seasonal ingredients.

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The cold dish named Cucumber

The cold dish named Cucumber was a star of the show. With simple ingredients of cucumber, coriander, kelp and Granny Smith apple, Teo has orchestrated a symphony of spring with vibrant colors and layered flavors. 

In the center of the plate there is a crisp and refreshing cucumber sorbet, accompanied by tiny drops of slightly acidic green apple, cucumber rolls and pickled kelp. The cucumber juice is poured when the dish is served to ensure maximum freshness.

Boasting intricate flavors, the dish combines fresh flavors from several seasonal ingredients in a way where everything works harmoniously. And hiding beneath the fresh cucumber and apple is a quite salty seaweed sauce that elevates the whole experience.

Lobster rice is a well-loved staple dish. It is served in three parts: a bowl of aromatic rice cooked in clay pot with scallion sprinkled on top, a small cup of lobster carol XO sauce and a plate of lobster meat with heirloom radishes. 

There are a few ways to eat the lobster rice — one is to add the sauce into the lobster meat and enjoy with the steamed rice, while the other is to mix the sauce with rice and enjoy the lobster separately. 

The very Chinese dish is a nice retreat after enjoying the intense main entrees such as the Australian M9 Wagyu steak served with eggplant, smoked onion and magau pepper. 

One can enjoy an extra bowl of rice at no cost, but not the sauce or the lobster meat. Before dessert is served, a small cup of osmanthus shaved ice with cherry sorbet inside is presented to cleanse the palate. The strawberry dessert with pink pepper and yogurt is perfect for the season, the caramel crisp adds a hint of sweetness to balance the sour flavors of strawberry and yogurt, and the pink pepper offers a nice finishing touch.


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