3 New Summer Menus: The Middle House, Element Fresh & Polux

By Sophie Steiner, June 24, 2021

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It’s finally summer. Yay!

Wrong. You’re in Shanghai, a city that turns into an armpit this time of year. Going forward, plan to spend most of your time inside as the plum rains hit and steamy humidity permeates the entire city. Next, we’ll enter sanfu – the hottest and dampest period of the Chinese calendar – hopefully surviving to tell the tale. But let’s be real, even 40+ degree weather isn’t going to stop us from indulging in these newest of menus. 

Sui Tang Li

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Tony Ye from Sui Tang Li at The Middle House in Shanghai, Li Dong from Jing Yaa Tang at The Opposite House in Beijing , and Tony Xu from Mi Xun Teahouse at The Temple House in Chengdu  have joined forces to create the 'Chef’s Story' menu, a food journey through each of their hometowns, childhood memories and experiences that brought them to where they are today. 

Image courtesy of The Middle House

This RMB588/person limited time set menu is available in Shanghai until August 15 for both lunch and dinner at The Middle House. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Starting out with a Beijing snacks-inspired appetizer plate of a Deep-Fried Pork Ball with Prawn Stock, Mashed Broad Beans with Almond Tofu and 5J Ham, Stewed Lamb Terrine with Soy and Vinegar Sauce and Hawthorn Roll with Crab Meat, chef Li Dong takes you through Beijing’s famed hutongs, tied together with memories of cooking with his Manchurian grandma. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A Truffle & Gingko Nuts Soup highlight the earthy aromatic and slightly bitter flavors popular in Western China, a non-spicy alternative soup to the more common malatang, while Handmade Spinach Noodles with Dandan Sauce bring together the signature Chengdu flavors of toasted sesame paste and piquant chili oil, with a twist on Western style spaghetti that chef Tony Xu grew up dreaming about while watching Western cartoons on TV. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

If a Beijing duck and a Christmas dinner morphed into one, the Crispy Black Sesame Deep Fried Duck on Beijing Pancake would be the result. Drizzled with a tart plum sauce that imitates cranberry sauce, the duck is fatty and luscious like a roast, with crispy skin and a crunchy black sesame cracker crust adorning the top. 

DSC03593.jpgImage by Sophie Steiner/That's

Braised Iberian Pork & Cherry from chef Tony Ye is inspired by his mother’s sweet and sour pork ribs. Ye swaps out regular pork for Iberico ribs and glazes them with a sticky, sweet soy and Italian Balsamic Vinegar Sauce instead of the customary Zhejiang Vinegar used by his mom. Crispy ginger shreds form twisted whorls perched on top of the meat, while tart cherry halves glisten with a saucy glow. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The flavor journey ends with a Baked Apple Pie, folded into the shape of a rose, and a quenelle of Avocado Ice Cream sprinkled with green pepper and salt. 

See a listing for Sui Tang Li and The Middle House

Element Fresh 

Element Fresh is getting a full-on makeover, focusing more on the health and wellness side of things with the new tagline of “healthy indulgence.” So, while you may not find French fries gracing the menu anymore, cocktails and other little sinful add-ons do find their way to the table. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The menus sees a robust spread of four different soups, from Spiced Pumpkin Soup (RMB39) with roast pumpkin and kaffir lime leaves, to Spicy Tortilla Soup (RMB39), thick with pulled chicken, chilis and charred tomatoes, and topped with corn tortillas crisps and a lashing of herbaceous cilantro oil. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Imported from Italy, the fresh Burrata & Heirloom Tomato (RMB69) is lush and light, with basil leaves and homemade pesto dribbled across ripe tri-colored tomatoes. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

It’s no surprise that there are eight salads on offer, spanning Tuna & Avocado (RMB79) – a hearty mix of avocado, green papaya, ice lettuce, pineapple and sesame crusted ahi tuna topped with a habanero citrus vinaigrette – to the Southwestern Chicken (RMB79), with a grilled and sliced chicken breast, grilled corn, black beans, avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, homemade pico de gallo and a piquant chipotle Caesar dressing. 

DSC03459.jpgGrilled Salmon and Basil Salad (RMB109), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The California Hippie (RMB65) has got all the grains, from quinoa and rice to job’s tears and millet, plus rustic kale, tart heirloom tomatoes and citrus sections, all dressed with a curry yogurt dressing.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

For the first time since Element Fresh started in 2002, they are now offering a burger. But not just any burger, of course, a Vegetarian Cheeseburger (RMB69) made of a Nestle-brand soybean-based patty, topped with melty mozzarella cheese, sautéed mushrooms, lettuce, tomatoes and a zippy yet creamy lemon aioli atop a toasted brioche bun. While this may not be the healthiest of veggie burgers per se, it’s definitely much better for the planet! 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Half of the new mains are available for both lunch and dinner, including the Beef Fillet and Warm Grain Salad (RMB99), a 100-gram petite filet portion with a side salad comprised of black rice, job’s tears, red quinoa, almonds, fresh herbs and a tomato coulis – an excellent way to sneak in a steak for lunch while still making it back to the office. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The Salmon a la Plancha (RMB119) is another hearty fillet – this time from the sea – drizzled with roasted red pepper aioli and served alongside millet pilaf plus sautéed broccoli and cucumber. These healthy, lower carb options are an ideal post-workout refuel or a filling dinner sans guilt. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Definitely not skimping on the indulgence options, dessert spans flavorful scoops of Ice Cream (RMB24/1 scoop, RMB39/2 scoops), like Madagascar Vanilla Bean, Belgian Chocolate, Japanese Black Sesame and Sea Salt Caramel, or go all the way with a flavor and texture explosion known as Mount Fuji (RMB39) – a decadent scoop of vanilla bean ice cream sprinkled with smoked sea salt and wasabi peas. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

You’ll also find not one, but two types of cheesecake – Japanese Matcha Cheesecake (RMB59) made with Kyoto matcha and American cream cheese as well as Blueberry Cheesecake (RMB45), a traditional New York-style cheesecake with a soft graham crust and a tart blueberry jam drizzle. 

See listings for Element Fresh

Polux by Paul Pairet

Paul Pairet's answer to a casual French café comes in the form of Polux, the lower-priced, more approachable everyday version of Mr & Mrs Bund. Keeping consistent with the main pillar of the menu – French comfort eats – the new summer menu sees refreshingly light dishes at the forefront and creative spins on tried and true favorites, with a strong emphasis on sugar and spice and everything nice (aka dessert).

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Summer is all about the watermelon, the star of the show in the Watermelon "Rafraichi" (RMB70), a dessert that gets it name from the French word for chilled and refreshing. A balsamic granita of sorts covers the perfectly cubed fruits, topped with a drizzle of olive oil, yogurt sorbet and fresh basil leaves.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A sweet, caramelized apple – that has stewed so long in its own juices that it just melts into an apple sauce within seconds of touching your lips – perches atop a dense butter cake as the Gateau Pommes "Tatin" (RMB80). A scoop of vanilla ice cream rounds out the plate, since it would be sacrilege to eat any apple-based dessert without it. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A zesty orange butter oozes out of the Crêpe Suzette (RMB90), flambéed tableside with Grand Marnier and garnished with orange sections for a rich yet tart sweet that contrasts a lush interior with the crispy crêpe edges. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Other not-so-new dishes have become more of a focus with the warmer weather, like the Smoked Salmon Essential (RMB140)  a large plate of thick-cut salmon served with lemon zest sea salt, a lemon wedge, a soy lemon cream and toasted bread slivers – and decadently creamy Avocado Toast (RMB80) mounted with hand-mashed avocado, homemade sour cream, fresh coriander and lime. 

See a listing for Polux by Paul Pairet

[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]

Got an F&B company you would like to promote? Contact us by email on billyxian@thatsmags.com and by WeChat through the ID: billyjunior317 or by scanning the QR code below:


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