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Hotels offer fine food, splendid views

FROM a stunning new addition to the Shanghai dining scene to an old favorite, the city's five-star hotels offer great vantage points to enjoy both fine food and some of the best views of the city.

The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong opened just three weeks ago and its Flair Rooftop Restaurant and Bar has a large open-air terrace that is perfect for balmy summer evenings.

Hyatt on the Bund's popular Vue Restaurant has long been a favorite for diners looking to enjoy a comfortable, sophisticated and stylish dining experience while taking in the stunning Shanghai skyline.

With sweeping views over the Bund and Pudong's Lujiazui area, Flair has a decor that is a warm blend of rustic and contemporary design and its outdoor area has relaxed lounge sofas and can seat 72 people.

Flair was designed by Japanese company Super Potato, which designed a number of luxury hotels across Asia, and they have given the restaurant interior a loft-like ambience.

Sections of the walls are made of oya stones sourced from riverbeds in Japan and other parts are made of traditional Japanese mud walls. Old wooden beams salvaged from Shanghai's old homes add a rustic touch, complemented by pine-wood walls and an outdoor bar made from large rough stones.

The restaurant serves a range of Asian staples from the cuisines of China, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, India and Thailand that are served tapas-style.

Along with these offerings is a sushi and raw seafood bar with knife-wielding Osaka-native Takayuki Takeda expertly slicing some of the freshest seafood in town.

Highlights include Flair's bento boxes from 160 yuan (US$23.60), which feature a selection of traditional Japanese fare in custom-made boxes with small desserts, starters and condiments,

The Ritz-Carlton's executive chef Dietmar Spitzer says they want an approachable Asian food that is ideal for people to share.

"Many bars just provide a small snack-style menu, but we didn't want to do that," Spitzer says. "We wanted to have a bar with exciting food as well so you don't just come here for the view and the great music but especially because of what is on the menu."

Flair also does an Asian-style afternoon tea starting from 178 yuan, which has a number of Southeast Asian dishes including chicken, barbecue pork buns and a selection of desserts.

The beverage menu includes 40 types of vodka and boutique-distillery rums, with cocktails starting from 90 yuan. Prices do not include a 15-percent surcharge and after 8pm Flair has a 350-yuan-per-person minimum-spend policy.

On the other side of the Huangpu River, the Vue Restaurant has sweeping views down the historic Bund while also taking in the glittering Pudong skyline.

Serving classic European food, the restaurant and accompanying Vue Bar are located on the top four floors of Hyatt on the Bund and are designed in the style of a bachelor's penthouse.

Home-style dining is set in the "kitchen," "library" and "living room" areas with culinary paraphernalia, book-lined shelves and comfy sofas.

In keeping with the homey setting, Vue embraces the culinary art of tableside cooking, where timeless European dishes such as steak tartar, Caesar salad and crepe suzette are prepared before diners on custom-built gueridons.

In addition, the Vue Restaurant has been running a highly successful fund-raising initiative that donates 10 percent of the proceeds from a special monthly set menu deal to The Library Project.

The project donates books and libraries to under-financed schools and orphanages in the developing world.

Vue Restaurant has raised more than 62,000 yuan toward the project and this month is offering a four-course set menu for 480 yuan and six courses for 680 yuan.

The set menu includes a Boston lobster bisque starter and beef tenderloin with bordelaise sauce, creamy mash potatoes and glazed carrots.


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