Yi Long Court is on the second floor of the Peninsula hotel on the Bund, and was awarded two stars in the 2018 Shanghai Michelin guide. This hotel, incidentally, has a particularly interesting rooftop bar that has a spectacular view over the buildings on either side of the Bund, and is open to the elements. Hence if the weather is good then this is an excellent place to have drinks before dinner. The dining room is large, with very well spaced tables. There was a long a la carte menu, as well as various set menus, from CNY 428 (£49) for a short vegetarian menu up to CNY 1988 (£227) for the most lavish chef signature menu. We went a la carte.
The wine list featured labels such as Pegasus Bay Riesling 2014 650 at CNY for a bottle that you can find in the high street for CNY 220, Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve Personelle 2013 at CNY 1,250 compared to its retail price of CNY 261, and Domaine Chavy-Chouet Enseigneres Puligny Montrachet 2013 at CNY 2,080 for a wine that will set you back CNY456 in a shop. As can be seen, the markups were hefty.
Char sui pork was made using Iberico pork and was pretty good, the meat a touch drier than the versions using local pork that I tried this week, but having good flavour (14/20). Rose pork belly had a top that was not quite as crisp as it might have been, and was too fatty (11/20). Prawns with mild chilli sauce featured quite large prawns that had been cooked well, the sauce being a little gloopy and only tasting minimally spicy (13/20). Crispy chicken was greasy and its skin insufficiently crisp, the meat lacking flavour and under-seasoned to boot (9/20).
Stir-fried scallops did not have a great deal of inherent sweetness but were cooked quite well, the sauce with them having a gentle underlying peppery bite (13/20). Stir fried beef with vegetables was the best dish, the strips of meat having reasonable flavour and being cooked all right, as were the vegetables accompanying the meat (14/20). Fried noodles with mushrooms had decently cooked mushrooms and noodles that were unexceptional but not bad, their texture reasonable (12/20). Gai lan was reasonable, the stalks used not being the most tender, but they were cooked competently enough (13/20). Pork with XO sauce served in the bone was disappointing, the meat ending up with a soggy texture, which the pleasant sauce failed to disguise (11/20).
Service was almost comically bad, despite oodles of staff and a far from full restaurant this evening. At the beginning there was an interminable wait finding someone to order the food from, and then a further long wait for it to turn up. When the first dishes did finally appear they arrived in an unseemly flurry, dish after dish piling up on the large table in a conveyor belt fashion, meaning that we were frantically trying to try the food before it got cold. Wine service was laughable, the staff having essentially seeming never to have seen a wine glass or bottle before or what to do with it. I was dining with several Chinese speakers, which was good because the staff had very limited English, but despite there being no language barrier for us the service was downright poor. The bill came to CNY 1,107 (£116) per person with fairly modest wine to drink and no luxury dishes ordered. Hence something close to this is pretty much what you might expect to pay here on average should you decide to come, though only a masochist would make that decision. Despite the considerable price point, this was some of the most mediocre food I encountered in this trip to China, including at restaurants a tenth the price of here, and the service was also the most inept that we came across. My widely travelled gourmet Chinese companions were, if anything, more scathing about the food than me, so this is not some cultural gap issue about my not truly understanding the subtleties of Cantonese cooking. I would love to meet the Michelin inspector who came here and thought “lovely, well worth two stars” and listen to their explanation of why they thought this was an even remotely sane assessment. At least there was the rooftop bar upstairs to escape to and drown our sorrows.