The newly-opened restaurant called Fragrance in the Regal International
Hotel might first impress diners with its splendid decoration rather than the
With an unusually high ceiling, the dining hall of Fragrance is large and
nostalgic. The interior designers seemed to have been inspired by traditional
Chinese painting when choosing the wallpaper, curtains and even the lamps, which
all feature a consistent black-and-white pattern with typical Chinese
characteristics. Another traditional feature is provided by folding screens,
which are made of opaque green and yellow glass and used by the designers to
separate the hall into several rooms of different sizes. However, the straight
lines of the folding screens and other fittings also reflect a different and
more Western style of design.
Fragrance mainly offers Cantonese and Shanghainese dishes, typically served
with refined presentation and culinary style. Most of the soups on offer are
especially delicious, after being prepared in accordance with Cantonese methods,
stewed at a low heat for hours. The slowly-stewed soups are also used as
accompaniment for some of the hot dishes, for instance, tasty baby cabbages
drenched in fish soup.
The stewed goose webbing with black mushrooms and vegetables I sampled
was quite an impressive dish (128 yuan, US$16). It was served in a big porcelain
bowl and the goose foot webbing was presented surrounded by black mushrooms and
itself looked dark-red in colour. Although the dish looked a little greasy, the
flavour was very good. The foot webbing tasted substantial and tender, even a
little sweet, while the black mushrooms were large, heavy and well seasoned. The
dish also contained a kind of condensed soup which tasted rather glutinous.
According to the chef, Ngai Hong Kin from Hong Kong, the goose webbings were
initially stewed with ham for four hours and then steamed in a soup which
contained a variety of ingredients, including chicken and pork bones, for even
longer. The chef said by condensing the soup, the flavour of different
ingredients was enhanced, making the goose webbings taste even more thoroughly
The visually-splendid fried shrimp was another dish worthy of recommendation.
The shrimp had first been sauteed for a short while on a high flame and then
sauteed for a second time with Maggi Soy Sauce. The flavour was actually very
different from that of home-made sauteed shrimps with soy sauce Shanghainese
style, as the dish tasted more natural, mild and crispy. The shells of the
prepared shrimps had also become delectably edible.
Dried beancurd with wild vegetable (22 yuan, US$2.70) is a common
Shanghainese dish, which somewhat resembles Japanese sushi in appearance. The
wild vegetables, which are called "Malantou" in Chinese and have a special
savour, are cut into very small slices and then wrapped in dried beancurd. In
this case, the flavour was not bad, but also not as good as I had expected,
because the wild vegetables tasted a little dry and too bland.
The dim sum dish I tried in Fragrance was the steamed succulent pork dumpling
in superior broth (28 yuan, US$3.50). It wasn't a huge success. What made the
dish quite special was the fact that a single large pork dumpling was served in
a small bowl with broth. Actually, it seemed rather weird eating the dumpling
with soup both outside and inside the wrapping. But I broke the wrapping
carelessly and the two different kinds of soup mixed together making the flavour
somewhat disappointing and also too oily.
Location: 2F, Regal International East Asia
Hotel, No. 516 Hengshanlu