Ex­treme din­ing in Shang­hai: French chef’s twist on haute cui­sine

Global Times - Weekend - - DINING -

A van spir­its 10 guests to a se­cret lo­ca­tion in Shang­hai, where they en­ter a non­de­script in­dus­trial build­ing as Strauss’s theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey fills the air.

In­side is avant-garde restau­rant Ul­travi­o­let, the city’s new­est three-star Miche­lin eatery, where ad­ven­tur­ous gour­mands hap­pily pay up to 6,000 yuan ($900) per head and the wait­list for a seat is three months.

The group dines on 22 cour­ses – each one served in an at­mos­phere tai­lored to that dish and cre­ated by video and other im­ages pro­jected on the walls, pumped-in aro­mas and its own sound­track.

French chef Paul Pairet, 53, says the aim is to “con­nect the dots” be­tween the mind and palate by trig­ger­ing “the right at­mos­phere, linked to the right plate,” which he says helps en­hance the fla­vors of each dish.

Guests take a culi­nary world tour, while mood mu­sic ranges from Claude De­bussy to AC/ DC: Pairet’s take on fish-and­chips comes in a Lon­don rain­shower to the Bea­tles’ “ObLa-Di, Ob-La-Da”, while lobster is served as footage of ocean waves crashes on the walls and the scent of sea air is blown in.

“You are us­ing all your dif­fer­ent senses to feel this ex­pe­ri­ence,” Ch­eryl Chen, a Shang­hai con­sul­tant, din­ing at Ul­travi­o­let, ex­plains.

“It’s multi-di­men­sional ver­sus oth­ers that prob­a­bly have good food and a good en­vi­ron­ment, but this is one of a kind,” she adds.

Pairet, who al­ready has two other highly re­garded “tra­di­tional restau­rants” in Shang­hai, first made his name as a chef at Cafe Mo­saic in Paris in the 1990s be­fore stints in Is­tan­bul, Syd­ney and Jakarta.

Ul­travi­o­let was more than two decades in the mak­ing, he ex­plains.

Its con­tin­ued suc­cess, five years af­ter it first opened, is tes­ta­ment to Shang­hai’s bur­geon­ing food scene. Miche­lin launched a ded­i­cated guide for the city in 2016.

It also in­di­cates the grow­ing dis­pos­able in­come and culi­nary cu­rios­ity of Shang­hai cit­i­zens.

Pairet says con­sumer in­ter- est ac­tu­ally in­creased af­ter he put up Ul­travi­o­let’s prices to cover costs.

He ex­plains, “When we in­creased the price of Ul­travi­o­let – we needed to sus­tain the whole project, there was no other way – af­ter a cer­tain level of price at 6,000 yuan, we had an in­crease of Chi­nese cus­tomers.”

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