Located at: 1 Galle Face, Colombo 02, Sri Lanka
Visited on: 23 Oct, 2018
So far, I have, on more than one occasion, been rather unimpressed by the spread at Shangri-La’s Table One, so I was hoping (although I had heard otherwise) that Shang Palace might leave a better impression. The restaurant occupies a rather large area of floor space on the second storey and, in authentic Chinese style, they started our evening off with a bottomless cup of Chinese tea. They also served a finger-food dish of pickled mushroom which, at first taste, comes across as spicy, but is actually quite delicious.
Chinese tea and pickled mushroom
To begin with, we went with three types of appetisers. While these come in portions of three, since there were four of us that night, we were told that they would upgrade the portions to four each. Which had not happened as we were served the first two dishes in threes. A reminder later, the third appetiser appeared with still no sign of the upgrade. They finally managed to get it right after a second (and now impatient) reminder and brought the extras separately. Well, that took a while.
The Prawn Bean Curd Roll with Chives and Cheese (LKR 900) was from the ‘fried’ section and appeared to be rather oily at first glance. But upon tasting, it didn’t feel so, not as much. This came recommended. It was okay, but was drier than the crispy cheesy dish I had expected, and didn’t have a whole lot of flavour either. The soy dip at the table definitely helped.
The other two appetisers were from the ‘steamed’ section. One was the Shrimp and Pork Siumai (LKR 850), which came with a bit of crab roe on top. This was quite good. Nice and moist with a succulent filling.
The third appetiser was hands-down the best of the lot. In fact, I would go as far as to say it’s one of the best dumplings I’ve tasted to date. So much so that we ordered a second round of the Crystal Prawn Dumplings (LKR 850). They really were delicious, and crunchy, and so full of flavour. Lovely!
For our mains, we ordered a portion of Sichuan Style Fried Pork Ribs with Black Bean Chilli Sauce (LKR 1,350). Visually, this was a unique and impressive presentation of the rack. They offered to take the meat off the ribs for us for ease of serving and consumption. While the taste of the dish was alright and the added veggies and gravy upped the texture of it, I was a little disappointed to find that the ribs had a substantial amount of pork fat. Which meant that there wasn’t a great deal of meat left to be consumed.
The second dish we ordered was a Steamed Grouper with Light Soy Sauce (LKR 460 per 100g). The fish was okay and the light sauce did go quite well with the Steamed Jasmine Rice (LKR 450 per portion) at the table. However, I couldn’t help but feel that it was missing some oomph. Perhaps a bit of chopped onions or lemongrass or spring onions or red chillies or the likes in the sauce might have helped lift it up a bit – in appearance and on the palate.
Finally, we decided to try their Singapore Chilli Crab (LKR 850 per 100g of Sri Lankan fresh crab). I had to agree with the crab ‘gurus’ at the table that this wasn’t your ideal Singapore chilli crab. The sauce was fine with the rice, but it wasn’t the authentic Singapore chilli crab sauce – both in consistency and taste. Halfway through, I also came across a rather harsh and odd tasting chunk of roe, which put me off a bit – not the kitchen’s fault, I guess, but it just wasn’t nice for me.
What I did find nice, though, was that they had seated the three birthday celebrants (yes, three) of the day in a single area, and walked out singing in unison with the three birthday treats. Element of surprise in tact for all three birthday peeps. Well planned. And the chocolate mousse cakes were pretty good! Cheers to that.
If you feel that my rating of 3.0 / 5.0 comes across as a bit harsh for this restaurant, perhaps it is. My expectations (and intrigue) for Shangri-La Colombo were high – elevated to that level by consistently satisfying experiences at their own sister hotels around the world. And yet, several visits later, my expectations here are yet to be met.
Yummy Rating: 3.0 / 5.0