Cantonese food is mostly known as the takeaways and fried food in the West but that does little justice to what this cuisine has to offer. Canton 8 is a fine example that shows how tasty this cooking style can be while still keeping the prices low.
The restaurant itself is located in a quiet street, about 15 minutes by taxi from the tourist centre. If no one told you, you would never guess that this restaurant has held two Michelin stars for three years in a row. The outside is fairly simple with large glass windows at the front and only a small logo. Then again, the queues outside the front door do give away that this place in strong demand.
Inside, the dining room is decorated modestly and with certain Cantonese accents, such as the large dragon saucers on the wall. No white linen or candles, just simple table ware and mostly round tables set in a dark interior. The restaurant can seat up to 60 people at a time and is open every single day of the week, both for lunch and dinner.
The man at the helm of the kitchen in Shanghai is Chef Jian Chit Ming. His cooking style is true to traditional Cantonese cuisine which can be seen on the menu: lots of roasted meats, congees and fried rice. Some of the local highlights are the roasted goose and the sweet and sour pork. In addition, there is wide choice in fish and vegetarian dishes as well such as scallops, dim sum and stir-fried vegetables. As is common in China, all dishes are meant to be shared and served on large plates put in the middle of the table.
Canton 8 already have several venues in town and across China but the end goal is to expand even further and eventually open up a restaurant in Europe as well. Despite the focus on expansion, it is still the intention to have common dishes across all restaurants in addition to some local specialities and details. For example, the Canton 8 restaurant on the pricey Shanghai Bund has a much larger wine list than the original on Jumen Road, which focuses more on tea and juices.
All in all, Canton 8 offers excellent value for money. The restaurant focuses a maximum on taste and is deliberately keeping seating and pricing accessible, despite winning award after award.
Chef Jian Chit Ming
Written by Sebastiaan