Sugared & Spiced

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[Shanghai] Media Dinner at Greenology 大蔬無界

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Greenology 大蔬無界

Add: 392 Tianping Lu, near Zhaojiabang Lu / 天平路392号, 近肇嘉浜路
Tel: 3469 2857
Hours: [lunch] 11am-2pm [tea] 2-5pm [dinner] 5-10pm
Price: 150 RMB/person for a la carte, 268~688 RMB/person for prie fixe menu
Visited: Feb 2012

Please note that this was an arranged tasting.

Greenology (大蔬無界), literally “boundless options of a vegetarian lifestyle”, offers a refined selection of Chinese fusion dishes using innovative combinations of fresh, organic, and origin-conscious produce. Last week, I had the pleasure of tasting a 10-course dinner orchestrated by guest chef Tony Chang, who was invited as part of the restaurant’s International Vegetarian Culinary Exchange. It was, to say the least, a mesmerizing evening.

The interior of Greenology’s 6-story building, designed by a Buddhist monk, corresponds to the five elements of Chinese philosophy: water, wood, fire, earth, and metal. The tasting event was held up on the 5th floor, a contemporary space complete with dark wood furnitures, floor-to-ceiling windows, a picturesque park view, and a show kitchen.

The chopsticks at Dashuwujie are custom made from unvarnished ebony, and can be taken home by guests who order from one of the prix fixe menus.

A cup of saffron cinnamon tea from Bhutan, especially soothing is this freezing cold weather.

A glass of sparkling muscatel grape juice from Australia, 0.5% alcohol content.

The meal started quietly with a Wild Mushroom and Papaya Tower 野蕈菇木瓜塔, plated with caramelized pineapple, salsa, and a thin sheet of radish. I personally wasn’t drawn to this dish, perhaps because I was still recuperating from the freezing weather and was hoping for something hot.

Next, Roasted Tomato with Apple Puree & Eggplant with Lotus Seed 紅酒莓汁西紅柿蘋果餡 有機蓮子鑲茄子, a simple-looking dish that actually took hours to prepare. The tomato was peeled, marinated in red wine and plum juice, roasted, cored, then filled with apple puree – “an intense explosion of sweet tomato flavor,” in the words of Fiona from Life on Nanchang Lu.” The second part of the dish, the eggplant, was baked with chopped lotus seeds and vegetarian cheese, resulting in an alluring aroma and a crunchy texture.

Fresh Green Pea Soup with Oven-Dried Vegetable Crisp 青豆仁醬湯蔬菜脆餅 was lovely. A hearty yet refined green pea soup with a dollop of fresh milk froth was accompanied by a thin crisp baked with olive oil, air-dried tomatoes, and broccoli. The perfect collision of crackling crunch and velvety smooth.

The main dish, Mushroom Medley 味增烤百靈菇 玉米糕 麻辣猴頭菇, consisted of three types of mushrooms cooked in three different methods. Most memorable was the spicy and slightly tongue-numbing Lion’s Mane mushroom (猴頭菇), a highly coveted and very expensive ingredient in Chinese cuisine. Its soft and spongy texture was unfamiliarly delicious.

As for the Stewed Lentils in Pumpkin Wrapper 南瓜卷法式燴扁豆, the pumpkin wrap was so soft it melted in the mouth, and the braised chickpeas, stewed lentils and broad beans melded harmoniously together. This one I truly loved.

Following that was clear soup with Bamboo Fungus Treasure Pouch 有機竹苼燉八寶. Healthy ingredients like red dates, long’ans, black fungus, white fungus, and goji berries are wrapped in a crunchy bamboo fungus, then tied up with a thin strand of celery. Mildly sweet and ultimately soothing.

Baby Cabbage, Bamboo Shoot, and Spinach Timbale 翠玉白菜美人腿 菠菜醬糕 looked simple enough, but each piece of quality vegetable was meticulously cooked to perfection. The imported bamboo shoot, for example, was braised in the “three cup sauce” (soy sauce, black sesame oil, and rice wine) until slightly brown but still very tender. A beautiful ensemble.

Ravioli with Red and Yellow Capsicum & Tomato Concasse 意式餃子香料番茄 was not memorable.

For desserts, a bowl of Red Bean Soup with Homemade Mochi Stuffed with Sweet Fermented Rice 紅豆甜湯 酒釀麻糬. What’s interesting about this red bean soup is that it was cooked with bits of dried citrus peel, which added a subtle hint of fruitiness.

The second dessert, Pineapple Oreo Roll & Banana Chocolate Mousse 菠蘿奧利歐卷 香蕉巧克力慕司, was surprising in terms of the contrast in temperature and flavor, but it was a bit too intense for me as I wasn’t in the mood for something so icy. The red bean soup would have made the perfect ending for me, though the rest of the table seemed quite pleased with this dessert.

We finished with Yunnan Baoshan’s organic Typica coffee, presented in a cute and quirky coffee cup.

Here’s Chef Tony Chang, who came out to greet us at the end of the meal.

After dinner, we took a tour of the entire Greenology space, and I was especially drawn to the tatami-floored room up on the 6th floor.

Will be back very soon to try Greenology’s regular menu, which has been garnering positive reviews ever since the restaurant opened last year.

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Written by sugarednspiced

February 18th, 2012 at 8:22 pm