Shang Palace Jakarta
Shang Palace is the fine dining Cantonese Restaurant at the Shangri-La Jakarta.
We arrived to sample their vegan set menu with the hope of having an exciting journey around this fabulous cuisine, that we know can be a great choice for food loving vegans.
What did our Vegan Food Quest discover?
The Vegan Food
Our vegan meal began with ‘Vegetarian Peking Duck, Vegetarian Ham with Apple Salad & Sauce’, the presentation was stunning and the taste matched how good this plate of food looked.
A sweet and sharp fresh apple salad was wrapped in cucumber slices. It was accompanied by a small crispy basket, filled with the other main components of the dish, that sat on a sweet gingery salad. Inside the edible basket there was a small piece of mock ham that had an intense meaty flavour, a square of crispy tofu that tasted of sweet, aromatic ‘Peking Duck’ and salad leaves and cucumber. Together this dish had an impressive variety of bold flavours and textures as well as a good visual impact. It was definitely a winning start to our vegan meal at Shang Palace.
Our next course was ‘Double-boiled Soup with Winter Melon Bamboo Piths and Black Mushroom’. Double-boiling is a technique that is used to create intense, rich flavours in a soup. Ingredients are placed in a double-boiling pot which is then sealed before being submerged in boiling water. The water on the outside cooks the ingredients on the inside, locking in all the flavours and nutrients according to Chinese chefs.
Our double-boiled soup made from vegan ingredients resulted in a rich, almost meaty tasting broth from the varieties of mushrooms that had been used. A piece of winter melon that had been carved into a heart shape, was floating in the broth. A cooling vegetable in Chinese herbal medicine, this savoury melon was light and watery in taste which was a good contrast to the rich broth.
The soup also contained bamboo pith, an amazing fungus that is as beautiful in nature as it is when it is prepared in soups like the one we were served. Delicate and earthy in taste and little crunchy in texture, it soaked up the soup broth like a loose sponge. The final ingredient was a single black mushroom which was meaty, flavoursome and packed full of nutrients and immune boosting properties. This was a wonderfully rich tasting soup that was both delicious and healthy; a combination that we love.
For course number 3 of our vegan menu at Shang Palace we had ‘Stir-fried Bailing Mushroom cooked Kung Po style’. This was a dish that was full of powerful flavours from the smoky, spicy chillis (addictively hot and tasty) and the sticky, sweet spicy barbecue-like Kung Po sauce.
Tender, juicy pieces of mushroom and crunchy squares of pepper were a good contrast to the intense sauce. Another delicious dish that was well suited to being adapted to vegan ingredients.
Our 4th course saw us presented with ‘Homemade Steamed Eggplant with Preserved Vegetable’. We really weren’t sure what to expect from the description on the menu but we were very pleased with what arrived.
Aubergine that was soft on the outside, but retained a firmer texture in the middle, topped with finely chopped greens and what tasted like jelly mushroom. This was nested in between some tender bok choi and a rich, clear, sweet, soy based broth had been ladled over it.
This was a very good example of a healthy (and delicious) way to eat aubergine, steamed and soaked in a rich clear broth instead of drenched in oil as is all too often the case.
The next dish was ‘Braised Ang Sio Tofu with Vegetables’, chewy on the outside and soft on the inside; this soft, creamy tofu seemed to melt when eaten.
The vegetables were fresh and well cooked. We love tofu and are always amazed at the different ways to use this great vegan ingredient. The Chef at Shang Palace really knew how to turn tofu into the stand out part of the dish.
The menu left us a bit baffled when we saw that we were to have a ‘Vegetarian Fried Rice with Black Olive’. Olives aren’t usually an ingredient that we expect to see in Chinese food but these were Chinese olives and were totally different in taste to the usual Mediterranean olives that we know about. One of us here at the Vegan Food Quest loves olives, and one of us can’t stand them, but we both loved the taste of the Chinese olives in our fried rice.
Normally we find fried rice to be a fairly un-inspiring dish but the Shang Palace fried rice was really interesting, not to mention tasty. Finely diced sweet pickled vegetables, fresh vegetables, dainty miniature mushrooms and pieces of Chinese olive that added a salty, mildly liquorice taste when eaten.
The taste was very hard to pinpoint, but the olives added something very special to the dish for sure. We love to be introduced to new vegan ingredients and so were very happy that our simple fried rice dish ended up being a whole new vegan eating experience for us.
Our wonderful meal at Shang Palace was drawing to an end and our final course was nothing short of perfect.
A beautifully frangrant soft jelly which was packed full of aromatic lemongrass flavour, served with a fresh lime sorbet. Sweet and full of flavour yet very fresh and cleansing; it provided a perfect finale to our vegan meal.
The Service and Interior
We were welcomed with warm smiles and shown to our table promptly, where we were brought warm, scented towels and Chinese tea. The service throughout our meal was very unobtrusive.
We were lucky enough to meet the restaurant manager who was also a long term vegetarian. It was so interesting to talk with her and were so grateful for her help in identifying new vegan ingredients. We really felt that she went out of her way to welcome us – thank you.
Shang Palace is quite grand and lavishly decorated and the glass wall that backs onto the peaceful garden outside offers a calming view whilst you eat.
The restaurant had a very nice ambience, with elegant ornaments and beautifully laid tables creating a well presented environment that matched the high quality food that we were served.
We sampled a vegan set menu but there were plenty of dishes on the a la carte menu that would have been suitable for vegans or could have been adapted.
We also dined at Rosso whilst staying at the Shangri-La and a review of this meal can be read here.
The Vegan Food Quest Verdict
Make a reservation at Shang Palace Jakarta for a vegan meal that is well presented and full of imaginative, tasty vegan Cantonese dishes.
You’ll get to experience the grandeur of the lavish surroundings whilst enjoying vegan food made from natural, high quality ingredients, prepared in a variety of different ways to make this a vegan meal that you’ll thoroughly enjoy.
We were guests of Shang Palace but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views
JL. Jend. Sudirman Kav. 1
Telephone: (62 21) 2939 9562
Opening Hours: 1130 to 1430 for lunch and 1830 to 2230 for dinner every day