We met after work and ran through the hard rain to the Shanghai Blues restaurant in Holborn. We've seen this restaurant many times passing by and had always wanted to visit. Shanghai Blues opened a couple of years ago in the grand and ornate listed building that formerly housed the St Giles Library. Hand painted silk awnings line the walls, there are original black Chinese alter tables, the seats are soft baby blue leather and the lights are cast from lanterns.
The food was delicious and equally well presented.We started with steamed scallop dumplings infused with and coloured green from spinach juice, and crispy squid with salted egg yolk. We moved onto mains of king prawns with long jing green tea, and diced fillet steak in a fruity mandarin sauce, accompanied by rice and gai lan greens in oyster sauce. Only the desserts disappointed: an uninspired platter of rambutans, dragon fruit, grapes, pineapples, kiwis and watermelons, and a lacklustre banana and green tea cake.
The decor was sumptuous and evocative of a decadent Shanghai in the 20s; the food was as sophisticated and as interesting as Yauatcha's menu; but the prices were higher, the service was patchy (our cocktails finally turned up as we finished our main meals), the jazz music was cheesy and loud, and the air was a little too smoky for comfort.