I was recently invited to lunch at the Langham Xintiandi Shanghai, and since I’ve so enjoyed eating my way around the city – and was quite taken with the afternoon tea service at the Langham Hong Kong – was only too happy to oblige. The hotel, just opened in 2010, boasts a fashion-forward facade which reminds me of a long-necked, mottle-skinned giraffe towering over the trendy Xintiandi shopping district. Lunch is served in Cachet restaurant, which takes up a large portion of the radiant lobby. Cachet’s kitchen is overseen by French executive chef Denis Lartigue, formerly of the Fairmont Peace Hotel.
Cachet’s buffet lunch takes diners on an around-the-world culinary tour and my favorite three stops were India, Hong Kong and Japan. A Langham representative proudly informed me the kitchen recently brought on a new Indian sous chef. After sampling the chicken curry, vegetable masala and naan, I was pleasantly surprised to find that level of flavor packed in a buffet. The sushi was equally good, with a few generously-sized rolls available and sashimi made to order. Completing the Asian trifecta was an array of dim sum dumplings and buns steaming seductively in red-lit baskets. Cachet’s shrimp dumpling, a hallmark of good dim sum, was tender and juicy.
Other buffet stations included fresh pasta cooked to order, British-style roast beef and a selection of French cheeses, as well as an American-style salad bar. I savored a fabulous little sausage quiche but was less enamored with my slice of pizza and cup of lamb moussaka.
I contemplated going back for a second serving of Indian food until I remembered: DESSERT BAR. A central table was laden with a variety of cakes and pastries, while petite fours and a chocolate fountain beckoned from Cachet’s back wall. I indulged in a slice of plum tatin, a bite-sized raspberry tart and a sinfully creamy piece of cheesecake. I asked if the pastry chef was from France and was told that no, she is in fact Shanghainese. Color me shocked!
To be thorough in my “research,” I tried the house-made ice cream and dipped a marshmallow in the chocolate fountain just for kicks. The ice cream was heavenly and full of fresh vanilla bean flavor. My one wish is that it had been served in a small bowl rather than a plate because it was hard to get up the last remaining drops!
I don’t have much experience with hotel buffet lunches, but for the money I think the Langham represents good value, especially for business travelers who might be pressed for time.
* The Langham kindly sponsored my lunch, though all opinions are my own.