[Shanghai] CHAR (2)
CHAR | www.char-thebund.com | Dianping
Address: 中山东二路585号外滩英迪格酒店顶层 – Hotel Indigo, 585 Zhongshan East No. 2 Rd (黄浦区 Huangpu District)
Date visited: 2013.12 for dinner
Total bill: RMB¥2,838 for three people (RMB¥2,100 for food, RMB¥738 for beverages) (no service charge)
Will return: Yes
What to get:
– Lobster bisque
– Foie gras parfait crumble
– Filet, sirloin, tender cuts are good (I don’t recommend ribeye or t-bone)
Dinner at CHAR encompasses the whole fine dining experience. The steak is one thing and you also get a nice bund view, some fancy knives, and your lobster bisque poured out of a teapot. I really like the atmosphere here because it is a little further down the bund so you don’t really get a mainstream crowd like at Jean Georges or Mr and Mrs Bund, which get a bit noisy at times. For this steakfest, we celebrated a special birthday for one of my friends.
The steak really varies by the cut you get and I have friends with opinions up and down the spectrum about CHAR. So this is how I think CHAR steak should be approached: get a more tender cut and ask for it to be cooked on the rare side.
Listen to me (or read me rather): this part is so important I am dedicating an entire paragraph to it. Make sure you order your steak one level rarer than what you want (e.g. if you want medium, order medium rare) because CHAR tends to overcook the meat. If it turns out to be rarer than what you like (fat chance), you can always have them cook it a little more but if you get an overcooked steak, there’s no reversing that one. This is what I tell everyone who goes there and they consistently report overcooking.
Last time I was here, I was on a date with one guy and we got the 1.2kg stockyard tomahawk (RMB¥1,188) to share for two. This time, I was on a date with two guys and we got the chef’s beef tasting plate (RMB¥1,658) to share for three. Lucky me.
Complimentary warm loaf of bread with truffle oil butter. I die.
There is always an amuse-bouche to start. This time, we got a tempura tofu amuse-bouche, which was a tad on the salty side.
Lobster bisque (RMB¥108) with lobster medallion, mussels, scallop & lime cream
I love the lobster bisque here, especially because it has actual pieces of lobster, mussel, and scallop.
The presentation is exquisite. Lobster bisque coming out of a tea pot. That’s how we roll in China. Why can’t I have all my soups like this?
Pea and iberico ham soup (RMB¥98) with truffle oil
If I could only pick one soup, I would go with the lobster bisque but I made us get both soups on the menu because I can. We liked the sweet pea soup against the savory ham was but the truffle flavor was not as prominent as we expected. Good but I can do without this.
Foie gras parfait (RMB¥148) with apple & red onion jam
Foie gras is always welcome at my table. Definitely need some red wine with this.
I said this last time and my opinion has not changed: eat the foie gras and onion jam with the complimentary bread, not the chips that come with the dish. The chips really don’t enhance the flavor of the foie gras, which tastes much better with the bread.
And now I present to you the CHAR experience:
The knives: pick the big Japanese knife on the far right with the ridges on the blade! The small ones absolutely do not cut through the steak.
The warm plates.
The salts: I really can’t tell the difference between any of these.
The sauces: I like the béarnaise sauce in the middle the best (of course, because it is the most fattening made from butter and egg yolk).
The steaks: chef’s beef tasting plate (RMB¥1,658) with 300g grain-fed sirloin, 220g Tajima wagyu fillet, 500g grass-fed ribeye. I recommend this if you have the manpower to eat it (3-4 people). Otherwise, get the individual cuts.
We all liked the sirloin the best, which was on the tender side.
We also liked the tender Tajima wagyu fillet but we let it get cold before we started on this so we didn’t quite get the full effect of it. Maybe we should have put it on one of our warm plates in the meantime.
The ribeye was the most tough steak of the three and was rather chewy. From my previous experience, the tomahawk was tough and I have heard the same about the t-bone from friends so I don’t recommend these cuts at CHAR.
We felt the need to get all the foie gras on the menu so we added a seared foie gras (RMB¥88) to our beef plate, which looks like a mini steak by itself. A nice solid contrast to the mash texture of the foie gras parfait.
The beef came with two sides and we chose brussels sprouts with bacon and Paris mash. I recently started getting into brussels sprouts thanks go Madison’s turkey feast so now I am trying brussels sprouts everywhere. CHAR’s potato mash is one of my favorites because it is so creamy (must be a stick of butter in it).
Eating at CHAR is probably more about the overall experience than the food alone. Steakwise, is not the greatest steak you will have but it is good by Shanghai standards. The well-rounded good dining experience is what brings me back once in awhile when I feel like being high maintenance. I recommend this place for dates and client dinners (funny how those those two purposes always overlap). By the way, there is no service charge here and praise buddha because that would have cost another meal by itself.
And here is our birthday boy with celebratory cheesecake. Ladies, I will take your CVs here.