Restaurant Review: Canton 8

Hi!!! I’m back today with a very special review. I’ve literally been waiting months for an “excuse” to eat at Canton 8 and just couldn’t wait any longer.

Actually, I lied, there’s one very exciting update. I finished the first draft of my research project- TWO WEEKS ahead of schedule!! This project has literally been the highlight of senior year. I’m literally getting credit for essentially giving my opinion on two of my obsessions the USSR and WWII while spending hours watching movies! Hint: Russian films on WWII are not just poorly veiled pieces of government propaganda.

With that said, onto the review!

Canton 8

Canton 8 is a classic, upscale Cantonese restaurant located in a small mall on Nanjing Rd. less than 300m from exit 7 on the line 2 subway station. However, “ordinary” is more than an understatement. First, it has TWO Michelin stars. It’s also the highest rated Cantonese restaurant on Dianping.com. Basically, very picky Shanghaiers agreed that Canton 8 outranks Tang Court, a former THREE Michelin joint.

Excited? Onto the food!

Note: Reserve seats at least 3-4 day ahead 

Food

Starters

Ginger Spiced Century Egg- Century eggs are generally considered a low class “snack”, but it’s actually one of Canton 8’s signature dishes. The eggs themselves are cooked to a creamy semi softness, which contrasts beautifully with the gelatinous “whites”. More impressively, it has the unique alkaline taste without any of the unpleasant metallic aftertaste of low quality varieties. The perfectly pickled ginger cleanses the palate and adds a nice spicy kick.

Marinated Jellyfish- Marinated jellyfish is a cliche appetizer I usually don’t bother mentioning, but Canton 8’s makes the list as the freshest, best balanced version I’ve ever had. The jellyfish itself literally popped in my mouth and had the perfect level of acidity- not too sweet or oily

DIm Sum

Har Gao- Somehow, the Har Gao, one of the most cliche dim sum items, was the number one recommended items. One bite was enough to understand why. The shrimp was more than fresh and had a unique snappy texture. The skin, however, was the star. It was delicate yet chewy, and for the first time, I finally understood what “fragrance of rice” meant.

Scallop and mixed mushroom dumplings- Mushroom dumplings are a weakness of mine. Add in scallops and there’s no way I’m not getting an order. As expected, all the ingredients were as fresh as could be. The umami of the mushroom perfectly complemented the rich sweetness of the scallop, making for the perfect bite. As for the skin, I think I’ve already covered that

Char Siu Pastry- My mom loves Char siu pastries and we order them even though they can be quite hit or miss. These were a massive hit. The slightly crispy exterior of perfectly flaky pastry encases the tender, rich char siu within. The slightly tangy sweetness of the char siu sauce helps cut through the richness of the buttery pastry and tender juicy pork.

Specials

Wild Vegetable and Black Fish soup- I’m not a big fan of soup, but my mom jumped the order. Initially, it’s ugly color had me questioning the order, but I guess mom does know best (which doesn’t happen often when it comes to food). The soup does not actually have fish, but has the rich umami that comes with incredibly fresh stewed fish, which is only enhanced by the brightness of the delicate vegetables. The amazing flavour compounded with each delicious sip but does not linger unpleasantly on the palate.

Gold Coated Steamed Egg White with Lobster Claw- The dish is deceptively simple: a bowl of steamed egg whites with a lobster claw. However, the flavours could not have been more complex. The silky egg whites burst with the intense, deep umami of broth and was coated in a layer of “golden” pumpkin jus. The sweet, perfectly tender lobster proved the perfect complement to the already overwhelming deliciousness.

Meats

Crispy Skin Roast Pork- Roasts are a must order and Canton 8’s blew all expectations out of the water. First, isn’t the plating beautiful? Of course, taste is king and the taste reigned supreme. The skin was delightfully crisp; the meat was tender and perfectly seasoned throughout. Also, Canton 8 chose a lean cut as opposed to the fatty belly used by most places, which really helped prevent palate fatigue

Lotus Leaf Steamed Grouper- This is another one of their  signature dishes, and for VERY good reason. Basically, incredibly fresh (probably live) slices of cod are steamed in lotus leaf with  julienned ginger and scallion while lightly dressed in an incredibly umami soy glaze. The flaky, delicate fish just soaks up the fragrance of the lotus leaf, ginger and sauce without loosing its natural rich flavour. ORDER THIS!!!!!!!!

Veggies

Spinach Braised Fragrant Winter Melon- Like appetizers, veggie dishes aren’t special enough to mention, but this dish is unique. The winter melon is stewed to tender perfection in a broth of spinach juice, adding flavour and a convenient digestive aid.

Note: The menu is quite seasonal and items sell out quick, so we did not get to try some of their signatures like the Spanich and Scallop dumplings and their famous Iberico Char siu. They’re also quite famous for their rice rolls, but those are only offered during lunch service. I’d actually suggest going during lunchtime.

On a happier note, Canton 8’s two Michelin stars do not correlate to paying two arms (or legs). Sure, there  are expensive items, but even the steamed egg with LOBSTER cam in at a very reasonable 68RMB/person

Service and Atmosphere

Canton 8 has an old- fashioned, upscale elegance. The vintage booths, old photos and lamp lighting created a step back in time to the high society social clubs of 1920’s- 30’s Shanghai. This was enhanced by the muted decorum of the guests and matching tuxedos of the wait staff. Canton 8 is perfect for any upscale occasion from intimate dates to large birthday gatherings.

Service was even better than the atmosphere. The wait staff not only promptly attended to our every request, they actually came around to help without us asking. The food also arrived at a good pace so there was no awkward wait between dishes. I’d come here just to experience the VIP level service

Overall Impression

Canton 8 deserves it’s 2 Michelin stars and more. I’ll find every excuse to go back to try out some more items and with the reasonable prices, it won’t be hard.

I hope everyone’s had a great week. Until next time, bye!

 

 

 

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