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Canadian chef makes an artful start

By Mike Peters ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-09-30 06:54:19

Also from northwest Tasmania, Cape Grim Angus beef comes directly from rich pastures that benefit from clean air, pure water and fertile soil. Cape Grim beef is grass-fed, hand-selected and rigorously graded, Hull says, with rich nutrients including omega-3, fatty acids, vitamin A and vitamin E.

We started our group meal by sharing seasonal oysters, an appetizer plate of cappelini, with pistachio and Brussels sprouts, followed by a rich and earthy French onion soup. A New York crabcake came next, artfully served with grapefruit and infused with the ginger that Hull came to love while working in Vancouver and browsing Chinese markets there for all kinds of ingredients. His soy-marinated pork belly with pineapple, which we didn't try this time, has been an instant hit in Shanghai and likely got its first inspiration from those days.

"What I do is very much Western cuisine - it is not fusion," he insists. "But I enjoy the Asian flavors a lot, and use the techniques I know to take advantage of them."

After the round of starters we got serious, opting for a 200-gram tenderloin of Cape Grim Black Angus, which came on a photogenic plate cooked to our order of medium (though we suspect the chef would make his own a little more rare). For that we chose black-pepper sauce, though the decision wasn't easy as red wine jus, horseradish sauce and three other options were available.

We were tempted to pair our steak with a grilled Canadian lobster, but our trio opted instead for the slow-cooked black cod, rich with its own flavor and kissed with a garlic cream sauce. Cod has been underappreciated in China but finding its way to more restaurant plates thanks to suppliers from Canada. Hull makes the most of this flaky flesh, producing a dish that's light but relishes the black cod's high fat content. (It's called "butterfish" in some parts of the US for a reason.)

Prices are reasonable for the area and the service quality: starters from 65 yuan ($9.75), mains from 170 yuan, steak from 250 yuan and dessert from 80 yuan.

If you go

Portman's

In the Portman Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai Center, 1376 Nanjing Xi Lu, Shanghai. 021-6279-7166.

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