Yet another shanzhai F&B outlet has opened in Shanghai, this time ripping off one of our city's very own: Ultraviolet.
Located at 88 Tongren Lu in Jing'an district, Queen's 3D Restaurant boasts an experience that appears to be nearly identical to that of the famed establishment from Paul Pairet, one of just two retaurants in Shanghai to earn three stars in this year's Michelin Guide.
Apparently not even those three stars can protect Chef Pairet's brainchild from the copycats. Nearly every idea has been borrowed, right down to the white tables and high-definition video projections.
Images via Dianping
Some users of the popular Chinese review site Dianping either haven't noticed or don't seem to care, though; the restaurant has so far earned an aggregate score of 4.5 stars (out of five) and has a few glowing reviews.
Even more shamelessly, Queen's is apparently pricier than Ultraviolet, with one Dianping reviewer appearing to complain of being charged RMB8,500 for a seat. (For comparison, a reservation at Ultraviolet usually costs around RMB6,000).
"Just wait and see if there is anyone willing to pay RMB8,500 for a steak that doesn't even have a Michelin rating," the user wrote.
Another review claimed that the average cost per person was RMB2,980.
Plenty of reviewers were also highly critical of Queen's 3D. Wrote one: "A meal in this restaurant feels like a night at the club. Food was awful, and with this amount of money I can book a booth at Muse."
Other reviewers alleged that the restaurant has been bankrolled using money people thought was going towards a gym membership. According to some, those members are now asking for their money back. Several accused the unidentified female owner of being a liar.
"Isn't responsibility and honest the most important thing in business?" asked one reviewer. "Are you trying to get away with it with a simple announcement?"
Users in a WeChat group claimed that the membership fees they had paid for a gym instead went to Queen's 3D Restaurant, which is also accused of ripping off Ultraviolet. A notice was posted to gym members on October 31 that the gym would be closing.
Opened in 2012, Ultraviolet instantly became world-renowned for its ten-seat, multi-sensory, psycho-taste extravaganza, with wall-to-ceiling screens, a state-of-the art sound system and fragrance diffusion machine to create a 20-course culinary masterpiece.
Commenting on the copycat restaurant, Pairet told That's: "I hope they have the decency to indicate credit to Ultraviolet; and I hope the food would be good."
This isn't the first time a restaurant has been accused of ripping off Ultraviolet and cranking up the prices. A Spanish restaurant in Ibiza also seems to have taken major elements from Pairet's establishment and used them as their own, charging EUR1,500 per head (making it the world's most expensive restaurant).
According to the Financial Times, Sublimotion owner Paco Roncero opened the restaurant in 2014 after a former sous Chef of Pairet's went to work with him. The sous Chef visited Ultraviolet a year prior.
Ultraviolet. Image via That's Shanghai
Sublimotion. Image via Pinterest
As the FT points out, the restaurant El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain has also appropriated Pairet's ideas, including projections matched to music.
And of course, it's far from the first time copycat venues have emerged in China, either. In the past few years, we've seen everything from a fake Nando's, Subway, Burger & Lobster and Chachawan in China. Heck, even popular Shanghai gastrolounge The Nest earned the dubious honors of getting its own ripoff in Hangzhou.
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