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Spanish Restaurants in Shanghai: dining in the slow lane

updated: 2010-05-14

With the number of Spanish restaurants in Shanghai being steadily growing over the past couple of years, it's true to say most, if not all, are of the Tapas-on-the go variety.

They may provide a wide selection of these eclectic, and relatively cheap, appetizers but are no substitute for Spanish fine dining at its best. And this noticeable gap in the market is one the owners of recently-opened Restaurant Martin are confident they can fill.

"Actually we did have a Thursday Tapas night for 100 yuan when we first opened for promotional purposes," confesses owner Joy Li. "But we regard Tapas as casual dining and as we are a formal, high-end restaurant they have now been taken off the menu."

Situated in a former French Concession villa on Hengshan Road (and once home to EMI Records) the three-floor space is arranged in semi-private areas of between two and nine tables, combining the Western liking for communal dining with the Chinese preference for intimacy.

"There are a few other good restaurants in Shanghai but we believe we are the only fine Spanish dining restaurant in the city," adds Li.

After living in Spain for 30 years he is confident that authenticity is the key to success in a burgeoning restaurant market, and he insists the menus will not be toned down or adapted to suit local tastes.

For the summer at least the accent will be on food from the south of Spain, reflecting that region's many Mediterranean influences. The plan will be to change menus from season to season, with autumn and winter focusing on dishes from the temperate central plains and north of the country.

Asked to recommend her own particular favorites from the current menu, French-born waitress Maxime Fanton Li plumps for the Whole Roasted Suckling Pig (1,180 yuan), Roasted Veal Shank with Garnish (356 yuan) and the Malaga Salad with Orange Langoustine and Celery (188 yuan).

"Many people also like the soft egg dish which is simple but very tasty. And a lot of customers coming back for the lamb as well," she adds.

Restaurant Martin has a number of set meals available including a five course meal for 398 yuan to the Menu Martin at 888 yuan.

Add: 811 Hengshan Road (Xujiahui Park)

Tel: 6431 6639/9811


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