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Meat lovers' safe bet

A good steak will be taken when and where you can get it, and while the pure steak venue options may be limited in Shanghai in comparison to Western markets, you can be subject to quality variances no matter where you're eating.

In the fine restaurants in this town the standard of the meals can rarely be disputed and if steak's on the menu, you can usually be comfortable that it will be up to scratch.

Moon's Steakhouse has established a reputation for quality and consistency over four years at its Xintiandi outlet and is counting on building on it at its second venue inside the new Swissotel Grand hotel on Yuyuan Road.

There's a personal reluctance to expect too much from a hotel restaurant but Moon's is a separate tenant within the complex doing what it does best. It is accessed through the Swissotel lobby with a clearly viewed entrance and, once inside, it's not long before proximity to the hotel is all but forgotten.

Here is a cathedral to excellent steaks, from the ambience of mellow music, dark timber and tones and soft lighting, even to the distinctive modern take on a chandelier centerpiece. And the meat is "out there," the raw slabs on display as you walk past the small bar area into a long and narrow but comfortable dining room.

A zealous maitre d' explains the intricacies of aged prime rib preparation, blood-letting and hanging times but to give him his due, he wasn't troubled by too many customers on this early weekday night and had time to chat.

The menu is comparatively simple with a few, but enough, alternatives if a diner doesn't want steak.

There are salads - Caesar (58 yuan/US$8.50), Mozzarella (88 yuan), smoked duck breast (68 yuan) - and starters - smoked salmon (68 yuan), seared scallops in bacon (78 yuan) and foie gras (128 yuan) as well as soups.

The mains focus on the house specialty and the maitre d' comes in handy to explain the price and size options. There are New York strip loins in various sizes (9 ounces, about 255 grams, for 278 yuan, 14 ounces for 418 yuan), a fillet mignon (278 yuan), Australian kobe-style rib-eyes (368 yuan) and strip loins (308 yuan), porterhouse (438 yuan), various sizes of slow roasted prime rib, including a 6-ounce ladies cut (198 yuan) and an 18-ounce chairman's cut (478 yuan).

Separate options include steak-based dinner sets for 188, 288 and 388 yuan, including soup and desserts.

The minestrone was a hearty, chunky starter and while it seemed to have been re-heated this didn't detract from the flavor. The smoked salmon entree, served on pita bread slices, with green salad, yellow tomatoes and a dash of vinaigrette on the side, did the trick.

Fillet mignon chosen from the 188 yuan dinner set was a big piece of meat wrapped in pancetta and topped with bearnaise sauce. Served medium, as requested, it lacked nothing in flavor.

The Aussie Kobe striploin (368 yuan) was hot off the plate with no embellishments but it didn't need them. English mustard on the side was a personal addition but the beef was cooked to perfection (well done), and rich in true beef flavor. Both pieces retained their juiciness through the cooking process.

They also cut as smooth as butter, almost breaking away at the touch of a blade. Whether it was the quality of the meat or the customer-designed, logo-embellished knives, little effort was required to carve through the portions.

They were served with truss tomatoes, grilled squash and zucchini and sauteed potatoes and washed down with a Chilean cabernet sauvignon (75 yuan/glass)

Dessert of vanilla icecream and pannacotta was not needed but was part of the set meal. Yes, devoured.

This is a relatively new restaurant but doesn't seem like it and there's comfort in the kitchen and waiting staff's knowledge about their product. At the end of the day if you're looking for a good steak in Shanghai, this is a high priority, no fuss option.

Moon's Steakhouse, 1 Yuyuan Road (near Changde Road)

Tel: 6288-9984


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