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January 28, 2010

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Chalet Suisse a little slice of Switzerland

WAITERS in traditional alpine dress, mountain chalet decor and pots of fondue bubbling on the tables - when new Chalet Suisse opens next Monday it promises to be a little slice of Switzerland in Shanghai.

Run by Swiss restaurateur Philippe Hauser, who cut his teeth founding NAPA Wine Bar & Kitchen, Chalet Suisse will be one of only two restaurants in town that serve Swiss cuisine.

Originally from the Vaud Region of Switzerland, Hauser says his restaurant will feature traditional recipes from different parts of the country.

Rich cheese fondues made from imported Swiss cheeses and a range of traditional salads and soups are just some of the typical Swiss dishes on offer.

Swiss food is typically rich and creamy and around the world their fondue and raclette are their best-known dishes. Slices of raclette cheese are usually cooked on an electric grill along with a range of other accompanying foods such as boiled or steamed potatoes or vegetables.

Fondue is typically made from Swiss cheeses like Gruyere and Emmental and potatoes or bread is commonly dipped into the melted cheese.

In keeping with the name he has made for himself at NAPA, Hauser says he will also have an approachable and affordable 70-80-strong wine list featuring a selection of Swiss wines. He says bottles of wine shall start around 150-180 yuan (US$22-US$26) per bottle.

"This is going to be a much more casual and simple operation," Hauser says of his small 50-seat restaurant on Kangding Road. "We want to go for a lower price because our overheads are lower but we still want to use good-quality ingredients and give people an authentic experience."

Hauser says fondues will be around the 150 yuan per person and raclette is about 198 yuan - its all-you-can-eat and comes with pickled cucumber, onions and potato.

Other dishes include a range of salads with Swiss-style air-dried bees, smoked hams and sausages and a foie gras terrine with absinthe jelly and toast.

Along with traditional favorites from different regions, Hauser plans to include favorite recipes from his childhood, including potage a l'orge des grisons. The barley, vegetable and air-dried beef soup was a favorite recipe of his grandmother.

In the mountains of Switzerland it is common to eat soups for dinner and they are typically hearty and warming.

Hauser first arrived in Shanghai five years ago and started in management at the chain Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf before starting NAPA in mid-2008.

He will run his newest restaurant with his wife Karen who is also a regular part of operations at NAPA.

NAPA has recently got a new American chef, Matthew Ona, who will also oversee the kitchen at Chalet Suisse.

The cheeses for the fondue will be sourced from Sinodis and will be from the Swiss brand's Emni's range of cheeses.

All the cold cuts and Swiss sausages will be sourced from a Swiss and Chinese joint venture company, Beijing Horber Meat Products.

"I have tried them and they are very close to the real thing, it is a real hassle to import Swiss meats into China, but it is something we want to eventually provide as an option," Hauser says.

Opening hours: Tuesdays-Sundays (opens on February 1), 5:30-11pm

Address: 1582 Kangding Rd, near Wanhangdu Rd

Tel: 3353-3887


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