Shanghai: Ne Plus Ultra

  • Ultraviolet’s single-table dining room in pop-art mode.

    Ultraviolet’s single-table dining room in pop-art mode.

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A staff of 25 caters to the 10 nightly guests—a ratio that the chef admits is “disastrous” for his bottom line. But it’s a boon for those lucky enough to score a seat at this “secret” table (guests are required to rendezvous at Mr & Mrs Bund before being driven to the unmarked location). Courses unfold like scenes of a 20-act play. A red fruit-wrapped cigarillo of silky foie gras arrives on a silvery ashtray. Cigar smoke swirls around the walls as you dip the stick into cabbage “ash” and down a sherry chaser. Another course of foaming lobster and seaweed is accompanied by eddying rock pool scenes and the salty whiff of ocean.

Other times the effects are less extreme—a simple side of perfectly grilled Wagyu is served with a glass of Bordeaux in a classical Parisian restaurant setting. “It’s not about distraction, but rather pushing the experience of the food a bit further,” Pairet says.

While it could easily spiral into the realm of pretentiousness, Pairet’s subversive wit keeps things lighthearted and fun. In fact, the last time we see him—over a dessert of frozen gummy bears and cola “rocks”—he’s chasing human-size gummy bear projections around the room, with a huge smile spread across his face.

Reservations at Ultraviolet can only be made online at uvbypp.cc; a 20-course set dinner with drinks costs RMB2,000 (about US$315) per head.

Originally appeared in the August/September 2012 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Ne Plus Ultra”)

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