‘Fine Cantonese dining meets Veganism’ – this was the theme for the Vegan Food Quest visit to Shang Palace in Kuala Lumpur. Renowned for it’s meat, fish and seafood dishes, we were excited to see whether they could produce a vegan menu that would be equally as impressive…
Shang Palace is located on the first floor of the five-star deluxe Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur. Easily reached by taxi or from the Bukit Nanas LRT station (or Dang Wangi MRT station), the restaurant is easy to find and conveniently located.
The Shang Palace interior set the tone for our evening; the beautiful carving of nine celestial dragons caught our eye before we walked into the main dining hall with it’s elegant classic imperial decor.
As we were shown to our private dining room (one of eight in the restaurant) we had already begun to feel that we were in for a treat.
We were expecting great service from the team at Shang Palace, after all this is a fine dining restaurant in a luxury hotel and we weren’t disappointed.
The staff were friendly, telling us about our food and wine (they have vegan wine!), topping up our Chinese tea (endlessly) and delivering or clearing plates with minimum disruption.
Service was prompt and timed well giving us enough time in between courses.
What we really loved though was the passion and enthusiasm of the staff; a warm and genuine welcome at the front door, the impeccable service and smiles from our waiting staff and the knowledge and attention to detail from the Restaurant Manager who made sure that our dishes were adapted to make them vegan friendly.
We were served the regular six course vegetarian menu that had been veganised for us by making a few adjustments like replacing egg noodles with rice noodles. At the end of our meal, which had dishes made from tofu, mock meat and vegetables, we were full up but didn’t have that heavy feeling you can get when you’ve eaten 6 courses.
Our first course was wonderful little ‘money bags’ made from tofu skin and filled with braised vegetables like juilienned carrots, onions and tasty mushrooms. They were juicy inside and the tofu skin was nicely chewy providing a good contrast to the vegetable filling.
They were partnered by a fried spring roll and there was a selection of pickles and sauces on the table which was a lovely bonus. We love good condiments and the pickled cucumber, tofu, vegetables, ground nuts and pickled chillies were a perfect addition.
Next, we were served an amazing soup which actually left us a bit humbled. There were some seriously good chefs behind this broth is all we can say.
Clear, packed full of flavour and full of health giving ingredients like bamboo pith (a fungus that has anti-oxidant qualities and had an almost crunchy texture), ginkgo nuts (which as well as tasting good also protect against cancer, lower cholesterol and improve brain function) and baby bok choy (high in vitamins A and C).
Aside from all these healthy properties, this soup tasted spectacular and was extraordinarily flavoursome. We think this dish should be renamed as it’s current title ‘Clear Vegetable Soup with Bamboo Piths’ undersold it’s super-hero style health properties and awesome flavours.
The next course, ‘Sweet and Sour Mock Fish’, may not have had all the amazing health benefits of the vegetable soup, and we know that mock fish may not be for everyone, but it had a crispy layer of seaweed that made it pretty special.
The sauce, which was just sweet enough and just sour enough, was drizzled generously over the top – if you’re going to eat mock fish, let it be like this every time.
All this great vegan food and we are only half way through the menu.
The next dish, ‘Braised Sliced Mock Abalone with Seasonal Vegetabes’ consisted of broccoli and mock abalone in a thick gravy. This mock seafood had a completely different texture and taste to the previous dish but the broccoli stole the show in our opinion. You know when you get really good, really fresh broccoli and it’s cooked to perfection with just the right amount of bite to it? Well this was one of those broccoli moments.
All hail the power of the green vegetable in a tasty gravy. We could happily have eaten more.
Had we filled up on more broccoli though, we may not have had room for the next course of ‘Rice Noodles with Assorted Mushrooms’, which would have been nothing short of a tragedy.
Particular care had been taken to trim the bean sprouts in this dish. We’ve never even considered to do such a thing but now I think you may find us in the kitchen painstakingly clipping the ends off our bean sprouts to leave the crunchy, succulent, refreshing sprout middle to star in our stir fries.
It’s this kind of attention to detail that earns you the title of ‘fine dining’ in our (vegan) opinion.
This rice noodle dish also allowed us to fully experience the transformational power of the pickled chilli. We love pickled chillies and these were exceptionally good; sweet, sour and a good level of spiciness meaning they didn’t overpower the dish. They may well go down as the best pickled chillies that we’ve ever tasted (we did say we love a good condiment).
And so we reached dessert, a simple yet show-stopping ‘Chinese Almond Cream’ which was nothing short of delicious.
Not too sweet, this warm custard made from ground rice and Chinese almonds had a subtle marzipan taste that disappeared on the pallet meaning that each spoonful ended with a feeling of wanting more. It hit that sweet spot but was cleansing at the same time. It was intensely aromatic, but intriguingly fresh and it really got under our skin. So much so that when we woke up the next morning, we were still thinking about it.
The person who created all this excellent vegan food was Chef Tan, and we’re glad to say we had the pleasure of thanking him and shaking his hand afterwards.
Next time we are looking for some up market Cantonese vegan food, we are definitely paying Chef Tan and his team a visit at Shang Palace.
Shang Palace serve an extensive á la carte menu featuring many vegan dishes including mock meat and fish dishes, tofu and vegetable dishes.
We were impressed with the Management Team’s attitude towards catering for vegan diners, they weren’t phased by having to cater for us and we felt wholeheartedly welcomed.
We didn’t stay the night so the Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur didn’t make it onto our list of favourite ‘Vegan Hotels’ but it certainly excelled itself when it comes to vegan fine dining.
We would recommend this restaurant for occasions when you might be dining with omnivores, they can happily eat the food they choose and you can eat your vegan banquet knowing that you won’t be the awkward dinner guest at the table, you never know, maybe they’ll even be tempted to try your delicious vegan food?
The vegan set menu that we sampled costs RM 88++
Lunch: Monday to Saturday – 1200 to 1430
Lunch: Sunday & Public Holidays – 1030 to 1430
Dinner: Daily – 1830 to 2230
Shang Palace – The Verdict:
Make a reservation here if you want a vegan fine dining Cantonese meal to remember.
You’ll have the opportunity to experience excellent service and food and that offers amazing health benefits as well as distinctive and exquisite flavours.
We were guests of the Shang Palace but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views.
11 Jalan Sultan Ismail
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Telephone: (60 3) 2074 3904