Court of appeal
Singapore was not the only food-obsessed city that played host to the first edition of the Michelin Guide in 2016. Shanghai, too, welcomed its inaugural version of the foodie bible in September, with only one restaurant bagging the coveted three-star rating: T’ang Court, becoming Shanghai’s – and China’s – first establishment to do so, as well as one of only three Cantonese restaurants worldwide to achieve this accolade.
At a private tasting session in October, executive chef Justin Tan’s culinary flair came to the fore. A Guangdong province native who hails from a family of chefs, Tan counts 23 years of experience in various kitchens, and has distilled this wealth of knowledge into a refined menu. The dishes bore a classically Cantonese flavour profile, but creative presentations prevented them from being staid or stodgy. Case in point: the T’ang Court appetiser, an elegant sampler of toothsome treats that included roasted suckling pig layered with barbecued black-hair pork, crispy bean curd, cucumber and sweet sauce, all presented on a bao (steamed Chinese bun) wafer in a delightful accord of textures and flavours.
Simplicity also rules in Tan’s kitchen. “I am always working on how to refine the basics and think innovatively whilst not sacrificing the authenticity of the dishes,” said Tan in a statement (he was out of town during my visit).
The Michelin Guide also takes into account the quality of a restaurant’s wine selection and T’ang Court does not disappoint. Resident sommelier Nathan Zhu’s focus on medium-bodied fruity wines, particularly those from the Loire Valley, Burgundy and Rioja, accents the freshness of Cantonese cuisine without overpowering the delicate flavours.