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Shang Palace: Best of Hong Kong in Saigon

Although I have never had the pleasure of visiting China, I have been eating Chinese food for decades, in several different countries, especially with the help and advice of some of my Chinese friends. The reason I am telling you this is because something I thought impossible happened this week: I was truly impressed with the Hong Kong food offered by Shang Palace in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City.

Shang Palace specialises in seafood, as well as Dim Sum (lunch only). Once you enter the restaurant, you are likely to drawn in by the warm welcome of the receptionists, as well as by the beautiful, but simple decoration.

Ample spaces and soft jazz music in the background makes it an ideal place for business meetings, combining great food and service with a relaxing atmosphere.

Apart from the large selection of live seafood available, they specialise in shark fin, abalone, sea cucumber and dry scallops; all real delicacies of the Chinese and Hong Kong cuisines.

However, if you are a dim sum lover as I am, you will be impressed with the over fifty different types of dim sum available at lunch time. Prices range from 60.000 VND to 85.000 VND per dish, and bear in mind that each dish is crafted in the kitchen rather than mass produced like in many other Chinese restaurants, making Shang Palace one of the best Chinese restaurants in town.

The prawn filled spring rolls are a real delicacy: huge in size with large prawns inside covered by a soft delicate and tasty pastry with no trace of oil, served with a mustard mayonnaise.

The minced pork dumplings had great taste and texture with no fat. They were served with a black bean and chilli sauce, giving them an extra kick without killing their delicious flavour.

Taro cakes were somehow unusual: soft and crispy, with flavours of taro and seafood evolving in your mouth, a perfect match with a pinot grigio or pinot blanc.

The king prawn dumplings virtually melt in your mouth, making you feel that the chef really wants customers to feel and enjoy the fresh seafood inside.

Finally we went for a house speciality, the spicy Szechuan seafood dumplings, which was my favourite dish: great explosion of flavours with a spicy touch but not overwhelming. Absolutely gorgeous!

If like me, you have never really enjoyed Chinese desserts, you will change your mind once you experience those that Shang Palace has to offer.

The chilled herbal jelly, served with chrysanthemum honey is very refreshing. It offers an ideal mix of digestive herbs and sweetness to finish off your meal.

Sweetener ginger tea with rice balls is another great example of how this Eastern cuisine manages to find the culinary balance between a healthy tea and the sweetness of a dessert like the rice balls filled with black sesame.

Finally, the chilled cream of mango offered a great combination - very creamy and visually stimulating.

The desserts range from VND70,000 to VND90,000 and they are huge.

With seating for 306 people and nine VIP rooms, Shang palace offers a great culinary experience in an elegant and relaxed environment.

Shang Palace. Norfolk Mansion, 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong, D1, HCMC. T: 083823 2221

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