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February 16, 2012

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Elegant brunches welcome children

SUNDAY brunch - a leisurely late breakfast or lunch that can extend for hours - is increasingly popular in Shanghai due to good value in many restaurants and a family-friendly environment in many eateries.

A small recent survey of food editors, people in the hospitality industry and frequent brunch lovers shows their top five favorites: free-flow champagne, freshly shucked oysters, high-quality food either a la carte or buffet with live cooking stations; elegant ambience, a sunny seat and nice view; and children's areas and activities to keep them occupied.

There are many places for brunch in the city; here we highlight three hotels that meet most expectations, children's activities included.

(Gao Ceng)

Grand Hyatt Shanghai

Western-style brunch has an alternative, yum cha, a Chinese-style morning tea with plenty of Cantonese dim sum.

Morning tea is served Saturday and Sunday in the Canton restaurant on the 55th floor. Guests can not only enjoy fine dining but also breathtaking views of the Bund and Puxi skyline.

The a la carte menu offers 60 dishes, including appetizers, dim sum, soups, main dishes, vegetables, noodles, rice and dessert.

Ninety percent of the dishes are in Cantonese, mostly various dumplings steamed and fried, with multiple fillings, such as shrimp and seasonal bamboo shoots; taro cake seasoned with five-spice powder, and spring rolls with shrimp filling. The other 10 percent of the menu features Shanghai xiaolongbao, juicy, pork-filled dumplings, and shengjian, sesame-coated fried dumpling with pork filling.

Local dim sum is the recommendation of Peter Zhou, director of food and beverage at the hotel, saying it's a quick and direct way to get a feeling for the city's gastronomic culture.

Many different teas are offered, including green Longjin with a delicate fragrance and sweet aftertaste and woody roasted Oolong tea - both balance the oil taste of fried dim sum. The signature drink is Chinese bayberry juice (myrica rubra juice). A wide range of soft drinks are on offer.

This Chinese brunch is typically a family gathering and the hotel prepares toys for children.

Advance booking is required for sunny window seats.

Canton restaurant, Grand Hyatt Shanghai

Address: 55/F, 88 Century Ave, Pudong

Hours: Saturday-Sunday, 11:30am-2:30pm

Prices: 238 yuan/person; half price for children between six and 12 years old; free for kids under six (plus 15-percent service charge)

Tel: 5049-1234 ext 8778

Kerry Hotel Pudong

The hotel's buffet-style Sunday brunch features the best offerings of The COOK, with 11 live theater kitchens serving Asian, Western and international cuisines; The MEET, a fine dining steak house; and The BREW, a bar providing handcrafted beer.

The environment is cozy and relaxed, with the children's activities being the biggest highlight. And there's live jazz.

The offerings include Cantonese dim sum, Malaysian food, Japanese sushi, Italian pasta and pizza.

The carving station offers the restaurant's famous Ningaloo Tomahawk, a cherry wood-roasted Australian Wagyu prime rib eye. Various fresh seafood and Alaskan king crab are available at the seafood counter.

The cheese selection is extensive, including soft, semi-soft and hard; light, rich, fruity and nutty. Bread, cheese, Iberico ham and free-flow Moet Chandon Champagne are recommended. Red wine is also available.

Distinctive handcrafted beers are only sold in The BREW.

The dessert station is famous, especially among children, for its chocolate fondue.

The COOK, Kerry Hotel Pudong

Address: 1388 Huamu Rd, Pudong

Hours: Sunday, 11:30am-3pm

Price: 168 yuan/child under 12; 388 yuan/person with free flow of soft drinks; 438 yuan/person with free flow of craft beer and soft drinks; 538 yuan/person with free flow of Moet Chandon Champagne and house wine, craft beer and soft drinks; a 15-percent service charge applies to all prices.

Tel: 6169-8886

Hilton Shanghai Hongqiao

The Gubei area location makes the Hilton Shanghai Hongqiao a popular destination among locals and expats; there's plenty of food and it's family-friendly.

The family brunch is the brainchild of Brice Pean, general manager of the hotel, where the brunch offers many options for children.

A large, colorfully decorated children's area features Wii station, with a range of games, flat-screen TV showing Disney cartoons, small beanbag chairs, a magician and a clown who interact with children and a face painter who makes children up to look like their favorite character.

At two cooking stations, children can make their own pizza and decorate cookies, under the supervision of a patient chef.

A children's buffet features tasty foods such as hamburgers, hotdogs and French fries. Parents can take their children to the main dining area for healthy food, which the children can take back and eat in their corner.

"I hope to create a dining place where parents can eat with children and after that children just go and play and parents can stay and enjoy their time," Pean says.

The grown-up food is international and varied, including Chinese cuisine such as Cantonese dim sum; Japanese sushi and tempura, Southeast Asian dishes and Western food including pasta, salad and juicy roasted Wagyu beef and lamb at cooking and carving stations.

Although the brunch is buffet style, most of the signature dishes can be quickly prepared at live cooking stations featuring eggs and omelettes, pan-fried goose liver, bacon, ham and other favorites.

The cheese counter offers more than eight varieties, including Camembert, Gorgonzola and assorted hard and soft cheese. A seafood counter features shrimp, oysters and other seafood. The bakery counter offers nine kinds of bread and rolls, all home-baked.

When the weather gets warmer, an open-air dining area will be added in the hotel's central courtyard.

All brunch guests get free access to the hotel's gym and swimming pool until Sunday evening (6pm).

Essence, Hilton Shanghai Hongqiao

Address: 1116 Hongsong Rd E.

Hours: Sunday, 12pm-3pm

Prices: 328 yuan/person (free flow of soft drinks); 398 yuan/person (with free flow of sparkling wine); 498 yuan/person (with free flow of Mumm champagne); half price for children between six and 12 years old; free for kids under six; a 15-percent service charge applies to all prices.

Tel: 3323-6571


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