Chinese lunar calender gets a taste of fine dining
In a tranquil standalone villa on Jianguo Road W. in the heart of Shanghai, Lunar, a new fine-dining project, is exploring Chinese cuisine in reimagined ways.
The interior design of the restaurant is comforting and peaceful, a contrast from the bustling and dazzling city streets. On the first floor there’s a tea stall in moonlit lighting, while the second floor boasts a warm, welcoming dining area with a beautiful open kitchen.
Celebrating the quintessential way of Chinese dining, Lunar is headed by Chinese-Malaysian chef Johnston Teo, who arrived from Singapore’s top kitchens a few years ago, including Odette, a two-Michelin-star restaurant where he was the research and development chef.
The name of the restaurant resonates with the Chinese lunar calendar, so for every solar term, there’s some special dishes. It’s a challenge for the chef to create new plates constantly, but he brings the season’s best flavors to his guests on a consistent basis.
The dining experience at Lunar is refined to every detail; the tasting menu is composed of 11 courses, following Chinese dining etiquette, starting from a warming welcome tea, which is an elegant scroll of Schizonepeta with a few aromatic herbs.
Teo values the relationship between producers and purveyors, and he sources ingredients from all over China, but not just limited to China. The menu serves yellow croaker from Fujian, pigeon from Guangzhou, lily bulb from Lanzhou and brown sugar from Yunnan and a stunning langoustine from Mozambique that’s extra large in size and big in flavor.
Several dishes really stand out in creativity on the menu for flavor and presentation. Tofu and duck liver is a delicate warm dish, highlighting handmade tofu that’s prepared fresh daily by the kitchen, and the contrast of the tofu’s lightness and the tender duck liver’s richness is very appropriate for the winter. The yellow croaker stuffed with cordyceps flowers was a highlight of the tasting menu: The entire fish is deboned by hand, and the flesh of the fish was tender and juicy, while the cordyceps flowers were well-seasoned to balance the flavors. Another tasting menu highlight was the rice steamed in a giant lotus leaf, the rice incorporating winter bamboo shoots and cured pork cheek meat was umami and refreshing with a fragrance of the lotus leaf, and when it’s served tableside, with a few slices of 5J Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, topped on the rice, it is delicious when the fat melts into the rice.
Celebrating daxue, the solar term that marks the start of the coldest winter days, a special dessert is served with a card explaining the solar term. The aromas of the sweet baked potatoes inspire pastry chef Zoé’s sweet potato dish, and Lunar used an intensely sweet variety of the root vegetable. The peel of the sweet potato was not wasted, it’s brewed into a sweet tea with malva nut and was a perfect finish to the dining experience.
Lunar also offers wine and tea pairing to complete the dining experience, which is overlooked by sommelier Cathy.
Opening hours: 5:30-8:30pm (last seating), closed on Mondays and public holidays.
Address: 222 Jianguo Rd W.
Average price: 1,400 yuan