Five-star hotel restaurants have a tough time getting noticed in Shanghai; however, Calypso is a game changer. From a new mold of Shangri-La concepts, this privately-managed restaurant serves as a standalone centerpiece of the Jing An Kerry Centre. Unless they spot the golden lapel pins worn by select managers, customers could quite easily sit through a meal without knowing they were within the chain.
Designed by the award-winning Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, the restaurant sits in a pristine vaulted space as a collection of clean and woven wooden surfaces that reminds us of a green house. Executive chef Davide Caré’s menu is loosely Mediterranean with key influences from Spain and Italy and small French touches here and there. Galician-style octopus (RMB118) and crostini topped with burrata cheese and San Daniele ham (RMB98) are both forerunners in their game and strong distillations of their key elements. In the case of the octopus, it’s almost too strong, with a heavy dashing of smoked paprika. Round one goes to Italy.
Also favoring Italy on Calypso’s Spanish-Italian clap-o-meter are their pizzas. Issued out of their Naples-imported brick pizza oven, they are delicious, thin and accurately made. Topped with fresh tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella (RMB98), they are sized to form a fitting interlude in a well-paced meal.
We barged into the main courses at a canter and aimed directly for Calypso’s signature dish. An Iberico pork chop (RMB188) roasted to supreme tenderness is buttery and smooth, like no pork we’ve ever tasted in China. Spain definitely won this round, juxtaposed against a slightly wispy French-inspired confit duck leg with a firmer-than-desired cassoulet of white beans (RMB168).
In the end, all that’s left is to applaud a uniquely served and generous tiramisu (RMB48). If this is the new form of hotel dining, we’ll be digging deep and checking in more often.