Every once in a while in Shanghai we’re surprised by a restaurant. It comes out of the haze when we least expect it with a new cuisine or approach. Käfer does that and goes one step further, combining a formidable water-level view with inventive modern German cuisine and fantastically attentive service. And it’s in Pudong.
That should really only raise an eyebrow of the most pompous diner. In truth, it works in their favor as they’ve occupied an entire modern mansion. Upstairs there’s an elegant window-lined river view, downstairs there’s a pair of Bavarian lodges and out back is a sub-zero vodka ice-room / bar.
Back to the food though: chef Ansgar Schlemmer has put together a varied nouvelle-German menu. An ever so slightly smoked halibut atop muddled beetroot (RMB88) deliciously sets the tone. This is a cuisine barely related to stereotypical Brauhaus fare–far more considered and delicate (and expensive). A bowl of white tomato soup (RMB78), featuring king crab, sweet cucumber and many kilos of tomatoes that simmered for days before being skimmed and frothed, is a feather-light intermingling of taste and texture.
Mains are squarely distributed between meat and fish. Resonant and full-bodied beef, pork and lamb “meat dumplings” (RMB188) represent classic Prussian meatballs, served with a quirky combination of long grain and Thai rice. It’s delicous, but we actually preferred the succulent swathe of black cod (RMB198) served with a sticky, sultry pumpkin sauce, veal jus and curious bacon yeast dumplings.
Capped with a beautifully presented casserole brioche with honey cherries and ice cream (RMB78) and a delicious plate of petits fours, Käfer has won over our hearts and stomachs. Fine dining has slipped upstream and across the shore.
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The Shanghai Carnival is only in town on a derelict expo car park for 100 days. In short; all the fun of the fair with most of the fun of the fair taken away.