Whenever I go to Harbin, I will always look for nice Chinese food in either high-end shopping malls or Zhongyangdajie (Central Avenue Street). They do have nice food but their quality of services is really inconsistent and lacking. So I decided to give the 5 stars hotel a try. I visited the only two foreign run 5 stars hotel in Harbin, i.e. Sofitel and Shangri-La; sorry, I may be too biased towards foreign owned establishments, because in this part of China, I have had too many disappointments. In the end, I decided Shang Palace is the better of the two or the best in Harbin if you want quality food, comfortable atmosphere and excellent service with a human touch.
First the food.
Shang Palace serves mostly Cantonese cuisine, and I have to say I would not compare the food here with even the four stars Cantonese restaurant in Hong Kong. I feel that the food in Shang Palace Harbin still lacks some taste, even though I learnt that they get their chef from Guangzhou. I guess perhaps I have had too much from Lei Garden and other excellent Cantonese restaurants in Hong Kong, so much so that I may be expecting too much from this restaurant in Harbin. And perhaps they tweak the taste so that it appeals more to local Harbiners, maybe. But since it is Shang Palace serving Cantonese cuisine, I think it is reasonable for me to expect something better, if not the best Cantonese food. I would give the taste a rating of 3.5 stars.
The restaurant does serve all-you-can-eat Cantonese brunch (Dimsum) from 11am to 2pm every day for only RMB100. Again, don’t expect 5 stars food taste, but for that money and at that location, I will give it a value of 5 stars! Excellent value no one else can beat in Harbin.
Next, the atmosphere. Well, I don’t think I need to dwell on this too much because the atmosphere is always that good in any restaurant in Shangri-La hotels worldwide, and this one is no exception.
As for the excellent service with a human touch, it is really worth mentioning. I don’t eat a lot, and I was surprised that the hotel is willing to serve half portion for almost every food in the menu, and charging I think 70% of the full price. You rarely have that in other restaurants in Harbin. That is truly human, given that I am not a local and I don’t eat as much as the locals do, especially given my size.
Besides, the waiters and waitresses in general are very polite and attentive. I happened to be in Harbin last Christmas 2012, and felt so homesick. Being there felt so much at home because the waitress (I think it was Ms. Zhao) there was very attentive to my needs. She didn’t push you to order food that I won’t need nor was too expensive. Instead, she would recommend food and portion that suit my taste and stomach size. And when I told her that I don’t like oily or salty taste, she would inform the chef to adapt to my taste bud!
Anyway, whenever I go to Harbin, I will always drop by this restaurant. If they can raise their food taste even more, that would be excellent!
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