Sunday 15 July 2012

The BEST meal of my life! (ie Ultraviolet, Shanghai)

I am in two minds about blogging this experience for it was the best culinary experience of my life and I know that I will not be able to do it justice through words and photos.

The Menu

Ultraviolet is a new restaurant/experience/concept by Paul Pairet, the owner of Mr & Mrs Bund, one of my favourite restaurants. Opening only in May, after 15 years of development and 2 years of delays, Ultraviolet is an entire sensory experience to induce the 'psycho-taste'. Each of the 22 courses ( YES 22 courses), is enhanced by a new atmosphere - think new sounds, smells, lighting even temperature and matched with a suitable beverage be it wine, beer, cider, juice, tea etc. The wait staff were amazing and perfectly choreographed to the second as well as being so friendly and relaxed.

Normandy Pear Cider

The night starts out at 6.30pm at Mr & Mrs Bund for a welcome drink (a fabulous Normandy pear cider) before the 10 of you are taken to a mystery location in a fancy van. Ultraviolet seats only 10 people on a communal table. Seats are hard to get as they are book up months in advance unless you are like me and go alone.Currently they have only one menu (A), with menu B to be released in about 6 months time. This night we were table 32 - that's right, only 31 tables had been before us!

Throughout the course of the evening I took 127 photos! I am not going to document the whole evening, just a select few course and pictures, for I do not want to ruin the surprises for people who may visit in the future. All I ask of you is to keep in mind that the pictures are only one aspect of the experience and sadly I cannot bring to life the smells, tastes, temperature, and most importantly, ambiance.

Also, I should mention that they cannot cater for vegetarians, however they may have a fully vegetarian special dinner in the future. Pescatarians are better catered for.   So - yes, I did eat meat but it was well and truely worth it for the experience. In the 20 courses, there were 2 courses which had red meat and several others containing fish/seafood. To be honest it was a good challenge for me to see if I like meat, and the answer is, no, the texture and flavour still bothers me. Fish, on the other hand I quite enjoyed.

So onto the food!

Course # 4 was a favourite, not particularly for the food (although it was brilliant), but for the atmosphere. Suddenly the room felt cooler and rain drops started falling down the walls. The Union Jack appeared on the table and Obladioblada started playing. Yes, we were in England!

The drink served with this dish was Baby Beer 5 am Saint, thankfully for me the only beer of the night as I am not a fan, but hey - this was England!

And the dish was...Micro Fish no Chips. Say what? Well this little thing was actually a battered and fried green caperberry with a burst of fishy flavour inside.

Course # 7 Bread. Truffle burnt soup bread

This was possibly my favourite dish of the night and it possibly had the fewest ingredients - bread, butter and truffles. I can't explain how amazing this soft pillow of buttery, truffle-y bread tasted. Once the dome was lifted we were invited to smell the dome before tasting... cigar anyone???
Just before our first intermission, we were served this beauty - a cucumber lollypop

 Which, and I still can't figure out how, tasted IDENTICAL to gado-gado

Course #10 Cucumber lollypop. Frozen Gado-Gado

 After our intermission, we walked back into the room to see that it had been transformed into a dining room, complete with candles and loaves of bread on the table.

I have no idea how he did it, but our next dish was the bread! The fish was baked in the bread and it was accompanied by a beautiful rose wine.

Course # 11. Seabass Monte Carlo. Vierge - Baguette

Course # 14. This dish was an absolute mind blower and definitely up there in taste. Called 'Tomato Pomodamore', it blended the flavours of tomato, strawberry and basil - flavours that i would have never mixed, yet am planning to do so in the future!

 This was an all in one dish. You picked up the magnifying glass, and simultaneously drank the tomatoey red liquid while eating the 'glass' vessel in which it was housed. Finally, finishing the dish off by drinking the strawberry gaspacho in the glass underneath. It was divine.

Now onto the desserts, of which there were 7!

Course # 17 Suzette Carrot Cake. Coriander - Orange - Creamcheese
I loved this dish. It had all the flavours of a carrot cake but additionally had beautiful textures. The 'carrots' were not carrots! It came with an orange, ginger, carrot juice which was deliciously refreshing!

Thanks to the chef who made some more for me for the photo!

The final dish was brilliant! An edible wonderland of dishes!
Course #22 Ispahan Dishwash. Litchi - Rose - Raspberry
 It was a fantastic end to a fantastic meal. After the final course we had one last drink at the bar before being taken back to Mr & Mrs Bund at 12.30pm. It was a long meal, yet it felt over in a second!

 In addition to the amazing meal, we got to check out behind the scenes. The kitchen was amazing and part of it resembled a laboratory rather than a kitchen. The appliances and techniques used were mind blowing! We also saw the control room where all the lighting, sounds etc were synchronized. It was amazing how much effort went in to this whole experience.

I still feel overwhelmed about the experience I had. I don't think anything will ever be able to top it. I love food but I never thought I could feel so in awe about a dinner and I don't think you can really understand until you have tried Ultraviolet. I was apprehensive about booking due to the enormous price but it was worth every cent. Considering the whole experience went for 6 hours, and was something I'm unlikely ever to have again, the price was more than appropriate. 

To learn more about Ultraviolet I suggest you visit their website as it gives a great insight into the experience and what happens behind the scenes.

I really feel that my short-ish blog post really hasn't done the experience justice, but i'm not sure how to change it to convey the experience better. You'll just have to try it for yourself!

Thanks to all the staff at Ultraviolet. It was bloody brilliant!

Sarah xx

Location: A mystery - somewhere in Shanghai, China.
Phone: You don't need to know

P.S. The bathroom was amazing and had a huge Baccarat chandelier above!

Hehe toilet controller complete with seat warmer and squirter!

The amazing amenities cupboard... i may or may not have accidentally sprayed myself with men's cologne!