By now you know the story of the birthday grinch and that he hates a fuss and bother being made of him. What I didn’t mention is that he doesn’t want any money ‘wasted’ on him either. He really doesn’t make it easy does he?
What is acceptable though is to have an ‘experience’ and within reason there is no limit to the expense that can be spent. So what normally happens is we mark our birthdays with a special meal out and because I’m chief organiser my birthday is normally more expensive and can sometimes involve a weekend away which is only fair I think.
But, back to the birthday boy. This year I thought it would be nice to have a staycation and get out of the
Bermuda Triangle French Concession. The great thing about where we live is that everything is on our doorstep and at weekends we rarely have to venture further than about 1km from the apartment for entertainment, food and drink. The bad thing is that we’ve stopped exploring. The Bund is only 4 kms from home and we rarely get down there apart from having dinner occasionally in one of the gorgeous buildings along the river front.
What could be better than to use up some hotel points on a ‘free’ night downtown at the Hyatt on the Bund with a fancy schmancy dinner at one of the best restaurants in town? Plus a view of both sides of the river from the bar. Not much right?
When I booked the room I asked for a river view room and was told it would be 41,000 points as opposed to a city view room which was 15,000 points. No amount of mentioning it was my husbands birthday surprise resulted in a free upgrade so I opted for the ‘cheap’ room. On checking in though we were given the option of a river view room, plus free flow alcohol from 5-8pm with canapés and breakfast the next morning all for an additional 700RMB. Well, that’s a no brainer isn’t it? And it’s not like we don’t have previous on getting our monies worth from an upgrade.
The view was spectacular. We were on the 19th floor right on the corner as the river bends around and decided that we weren’t going to go for a walk after all even though it was a balmy 25C Spring day outside- with a blue sky bonus.
Room service was ordered, champers from home (!) opened, chairs turned to face the view and we spent an hour or so watching the river traffic go by. Oh boy – there are so many boats going up and down that waterway. I have no idea where they are going but it looked like they were carrying coal upstream and coming back empty.
After lunch we went to the spa which is kind of where the ‘experience’ part of the birthday present comes in, but the ‘do not waste money on my birthday’ part flies out of the window. It was money well spent though and we both came away feeling totally relaxed and rejuvenated – until we realised it was 5.30pm and we had already missed 30 minutes of the upgrade.
The Executive Lounge is on the 3rd floor with picture windows looking over at the Pearl Tower. It’s a spectacular view at night with a clear sky and was a lovely way to start the evening with canapés and champagne before our 8pm dinner reservation at the hotel’s Chinese restaurant.
Xindalu comes with high praise and higher expectations – their Peking duck is touted as being the best in town and when I called to make the reservation I was asked if I wanted to order a half or whole duck. Ordering the half, I was informed that the duck would be brought to the table at 830pm. So don’t be late was the inference.
The other dish Xindalu is famous for is their Beggars Chicken and friends had told us we had to try it. Unfortunately, they had sold out at 8pm – a fact I found astonishing given that 1) it was Saturday night and the restaurant was packed 2) it was one of their most famous dishes and every single review mentioned it.
I was told there was no note of reserving the Beggars Chicken when I made the reservation which just got my back up even more. And then to make matters worse someone told us they had spoken to the kitchen and the chefs could make another chicken but it would take 4 hours…..this is what passes for helpful in Shanghai sometimes.
The duck was brought to the table as promised on the dot of 830pm and sliced in front of us. It was as memorable as we had expected although I’m not a big fan of dipping the skin in sugar myself. Sweet and sour wagu, stir fried asparagus and lily bulbs and Szechuan prawns completed the meal. The prawns were liberally sprinkled with toasted Szechuan peppercorns which numbed the mouth momentarily when you bit into them. With a nice hit of chilli this was the standout dish of the night and probably one of the best dishes we’ve had in Shanghai.
I’m not sure I’d rush to go back again in a hurry. I hear their brunch is good value and if a group of friends wanted to go there for dinner I’d say yes but it’s not somewhere I’d put on our restaurant rotation. It definitely lacked any birthday wow factor which was disappointing for me but Richard of course being the laid back huge hearted guy that he is said it didn’t matter it was all about the experience.
Three posts in a row is enough bloglovin for any boy. Normal service will be resumed next week.
In the wash up:
What’s great: The Peking duck and apparently the beggars chicken. Be sure to order both when you make your reservation
What’s not so great: No wow factor
Cost: approx 1200RMB incl bottle of wine
Address: 199 Huang Pu Lu
Tel: 6393 1234