For many people, dessert is the most enjoyable part of the meal, and without a sweet treat the dining experience can’t be satisfactory. But if we all agree that there’s only two types of people in the world of foodies, the ones that prefer savory and the ones that have a sweet tooth, then we know that someone out there must be feeling that desserts are often a waste of calories.
I happen to be among those mean people who would have a piece of bread with butter and salt any day instead of a piece of average cake. I do like desserts, but I’m extremely picky with what I choose to spend my daily intake of sugar on, which is normally spent on wine and beer, as that’s important too.
Well, so here’s is the list of my favorite desserts in Shanghai, in no particular order. From high-end, to every day options, all delicious, all worth your time, money and calorie bank
[Disclaimer, some of the desserts may be seasonal and vary in taste/execution according to the time of your visit. Last time I checked if all the items are still available is 16 July 2017]
1) Chocolate Sphere at Hakkasan (RMB 98)
One thing my favorite desserts tend to have in common is Chocolate. I like good chocolate desserts that have several layers of complexity. Hakkasan’s chocolate sphere present a nice contrast cold/hot, sweet/savory, crunchy/soft and even bubbly! The hard chocolate shell is melted by pouring hot chocolate on top, revealing all the treasures inside. An interesting end to a great meal at Hakkasan.
18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, Bund 18, 5/F, near Nanjing Dong Lu
2) Yak Yogurt at Miss Ali (RMB 38)
This might come across as a surprise, but I love this dessert so much it had to make it to the list. It’s a simple bowl of yak yogurt with some seeds, dried fruit and a drop of honey. It’s light simplicity is what makes this dessert outstanding in my opinion, exactly what you need to freshen up after a dinner full of strong Xinjiang flavors.
20 Yuyuan Dong Lu, 2/F, near Tongren Lu
3) French Toast at Mr & Mrs Bund (RMB 80)
This is definitely the ballsiest single piece of bread in town: RMB 80 for a slice of bread and a scoop of ice-cream. The perfectly executed caramelisation gives the bread a nice crunch on the exterior, while inside the bread is dreamingly fluffy and cinnamony. You’ll keep coming back.
18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, Bund 18, 6/F, near Nanjing Dong Lu
4) Red Velvet Cake at Fat Cow (RMB 58)
Desserts at low/mid-range restaurants are my biggest nightmare. I NEVER order a dessert in these places unless I’m sharing with a sweet tooth friend. When my lovely half ordered the Red Velvet cake at Fat Cow I was extremely surprised by how good it was. I fell in love with the tanginess of the cheese frosting, the cake has a hole in the middle which is completely filled with frosting and there’s so much of it. Get it!
135 Yanping Lu, 1/F, Room 103, near Wuding Lu
5) M’s Very Famous Pavlova at M on the Bund (RMB 108)
This huge slab of fluffy Pavlova is covered in seasonal fruits which contrast the sweetness of the merengue with their acidity and freshness. This dessert has kept people dreaming for decades, letting the Shanghai old timers whom have been here forever come back for more regularly.
6) Siam Fragrance at Thought for Food (RMB 78)
This is something. Only slightly sweet, this dessert is actually more an experience than it is a dish. A cloud of foamy coconut covers a refreshing heart of hand-made mango sorbet (with no added sugars) and a bed of toasty, fragrant crunchy brown rice. If I had a bowl the size of my head, I’d eat it all and crave for more. I ate two huge bowls last time I visited, so that’s not a hyperbole.
357 Jianguo Xi Lu, The Living Room by Octave, 1/F, near Taiyuan Lu
7) Baked Dark Chocolate at Blackbird (RMB 69)
All desserts at Blackbird are worth ordering, but my favorite was hands down the Baked Dark Chocolate where different textures, temperatures and consistencies combine playfully in a way that all components in one spoonful merge to utmost tastebuds delight. It comes with a quenelle of smoked red wine ice-cream made with butter. Yes, butter instead of cream.
1262 Yan’an Xi Lu, Bldg 8, near Anxi Lu
So there you have a quick list of my favorite desserts in Shanghai. Hope you’ll have a chance to try them out and let me know how you liked them! If you have any suggestions for other desserts that a non-dessert lover would like, please send them my way; my quest is never over!