February 7, 2013

Gong Xi Fa Cai! MODERN SHANGHAI opens at the MoA!

If memory serves me right, the Bistro Group's first TGI Friday's in the Philippines is at the Glorietta, which opened almost 20 years ago, back in 1994.

I remember I had lunch there with my then-girlfriend, during its first week of operations. I pretended to want to go there to try the good ol' American comfort food and bar chow, but in reality, I just wanted to ogle the busty blonde beauties who were deployed here as part of the opening/training team.
I've gone back to that very same restaurant dozens of times in the past  couple of decades. TGIF is still a favorite, specially for their Buffalo Wings and always ice cold beers, but now, the choices from the Bistro Group encompass international fare from Italy, Korea, Japan, and now, China.
Modern Shanghai is located on the second floor of the veranda of the Mall of Asia, right above the entertainment atrium, and directly across the SM Cinemas. It's a very uncluttered space with both Chinese traditional interior accents, and playful touches like the fishes on the walls.
The menu was very interesting -- a blend of the essentials, such as Yang Chow fried rice and an impressive array of cooked-to-order dimsum, and an exciting line-up of dishes that I don't normally encounter here in Manila, such as this very appetizing starter ofDeep Fried Crispy River Eel for P298.00.
Instead of the expected Century Eggs, these Aji Tamago-like beauties are on the menu. Soft Heart Smoked Eggs, a platter of four for P95.00.
I really enjoyed reading through the menu, with almost all the items having a long, four-word name, like this tender and smoky appetizer: Shandong Style Shredded Chicken (P358.00)
If Watami has the most unique Japanese beverages in town, Modern Shanghai has a lock on the coolest Oriental creations like this Mango Tea Sangria, with fresh mangoes, strawberry, lemon, orange juice, Sprite, and infused mango tea (P148.00).
I treated my balikbayan aunts to dinner the night I dined here, so naturally, I pretended to order something healthy yet tasty, like the Sauteed Spring Beans with Minced Pork and Chili (P188.00).
And one of my favorites (so far) in Modern Shanghai: very succulent, very fresh Sauteed River Shrimp with Spring Onions (P248.00).
But the night belonged to this dish, a cross between Humba and Pata Tim: Tung-Bor Style Braised Pork Belly (P418.00).
Belly Belly Good. Pork Porn Perfection.
My aunts from California insisted on assuaging their cholesterol guilt with this: Deep Fried Garoupa with Sweet and Sour Sauce (P788.00).
The most expensive dish we ordered, but oh so worth it!
The desserts were exceptional too, as alluring as our starters and mains. For example, this Fresh Mango Cream with Sago and Pomelo (P118.00).
Fresh Mango Pudding  (P108.00)
And the most intricately named exotic dessert ever -- Rock Sugar Jelly with Osmanthus and Wolfberries  (P88.00). It's got a very subtle sweetness, and a hint of Five Spice flavor. An adventure for the palate; just saying the name aloud upon ordering was fun!
This ended my meal and completed my fine dining experience: officially, it's not on the dessert menu, but rather, on the "Buns & Dumplings" page. But I was one with my aunts in declaring this sweet/savory dish as our #1 favorite: Steamed Buns with Preserved Egg Yolk Paste  (P148.00)
Xie Xie, Modern Shanghai!
Gong Xi Fa Cai! I'll be back!


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