Shanghai Restaurant Review: C Pearl

By Cristina Ng, February 27, 2019

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The Place

Brought to you by the group behind Osteria and The Plump Oyster, the opening of C Pearl marks the first Shanghai outpost of a brand launched in Beijing back in 2014.

Since then, Australian forager and group executive chef Elijah Holland has come on board, and his passion for serving dishes that are made from scratch is reflected through house-made charcuterie, bread baked from freshly milled flour and herb-forward gin and tonics from the garden he planted at their open-air pop-up restaurant, Botanik.

With several more concepts in the works, Holland is a busy guy, so chef de cuisine Joshua Moroney is running the show at the Pudong Century Link Tower location.

The Food

Like in most seafood restaurants, the raw bar takes center stage here. You can order Oysters (RMB199 for six pieces) and Mixed Seafood Platters (RMB699) built from an extensive selection of lobster, prawn, salmon roe, sea urchin and more, but these guys have so many other ways to impress.

For example, their hand-milled flour produces killer focaccia and sourdough served in a Bread Basket (RMB20). The sourdough takes 24 hours to make from start to finish, and the starter has been around since August of last year.

Image by Cristina Ng/That's 

We’ve never met a Cod Croquette (RMB55) that we liked in Shanghai until we encountered this version paired with dill aioli, where the dried fish shines with an addictive flaky texture. 

Salmon Pastrami (RMB65) coupled with lemon chive cream and toasted brioche is cured overnight and cold smoked for five hours, resulting in a fantastic crossover of our two favorite delicatessen specialties. 

Image by Cristina Ng/That's 

Then there’s the Charcuterie Platters (RMB80/small, RMB155/large). Since it takes anywhere from three weeks to a month to cure meat, the selection changes regularly. Our current favorite is Turkish-style pastirma redolent of fenugreek, chili, garlic and paprika. With such complexity, an entire Middle Eastern meal flashes before your eyes with each bite. Delicately thin slices of mouth-melting lomo are a revelation for the palate, and we can’t wait for them to whip up another batch of beef bresaola.  

The wood-fired grill and Josper oven are used to infuse playful flavor into dishes. Live Mushroom Logs (RMB95) aren’t a new ingredient in Shanghai, but roasting them over lychee wood, and sprinkling the mushrooms with kimchi powder is a cool twist. A side sauce is created by mixing leftover pulverized mushrooms with chicken stock.

From land, the Gansu M4 Wagyu T-Bone (RMB650/500g) is dry-aged in its own fat and fired up in the grill. It really doesn’t need much help, but the accompanying mustard and smoked oyster cream sauces are excellent. 

Food-C-Pearl-4_.pic_hd.jpgImage by Cristina Ng/That's  

Their Handmade Shells (RMB125) with sea urchin, mushrooms and salmon roe will likely taste under-seasoned and be overcooked for pasta purists. We, however, love the dish thanks to the sauce that is made with a cordycep mushroom and sea urchin puree, egg yolk and cream. In terms of seasoning, the brininess of the roe is preferred over a liberal hand with salt in this particular dish. 

Food-C-Pearl-5_.pic_hd.jpgImage by Cristina Ng/That's 

Even dessert is tinged with smoky notes from the oven, in a moreish sticky Chinese Red Date Pudding with Dulce de Leche Ice Cream, Salted Caramel and Fresh Jujube (RMB55). While our palate knows that it would be more balanced served with a green apple sorbet, our inner fat kid is completely happy with it. 

Food Verdict: 2.5/3

The Vibe

A touch of ocean-inspired décor goes a long way in a dining room clad in tasteful shades of blue, grey and black, while hanging plants and mixed floral bouquets are a reminder that these Aussie chefs are as at home in the garden as they are in the kitchen. 

It might seem like a hassle to go there if you are a Puxi snob, but C Pearl is located just above the Century Avenue Station, which is accessible from four different metro lines. To us, it’s a trip well worth taking.

Vibe Verdict: 1.5/2

Total Verdict: 4/5

Price: RMB200-400 per person
Who’s going: mostly Pudong-based locals
Good for: charcuterie, grilled meats, raw seafood

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