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Shanghai Noir: A Decadent Indo-Chinese Brasserie in the heart of London Westminster

Descend into an art-deco-infused den of fire and spice as Indo-Chinese brasserie Shanghai Noirbrings intriguing new flavour to the heart of Westminster. Taking up residence on the lower ground floor of the stunning, Grade II listed Old Westminster Fire Station, Shanghai Noir harks back to the heyday of 1920s and 1930s Shanghai with a fusion of powerful flavours, and opulent furnishings. A heady atmosphere that’s heavy with anticipation captures the spirit of the city that never slept and brings an air of the unexpected to every visit. A feature by FnB columnist Riccha Grrover for Asian Lite International.

Undisputedly the most modern and alluring Chinese city in the 1930s, Shanghai was a seductive concoction of glamour and sin, prompting some to call it “The Paris of the East”. The arriving Art Deco style was reinterpreted with more sumptuous Chinese materials like lacquer, ivory, local woods, and silks and created a sensual experience like no other. Shanghai Noir’s 78-cover sultry subterranean vibe restaurant draws on the very essence of what made that era so extraordinary, cleverly distilling it into the lower ground level of one of London’s most beautiful historic buildings.

The restaurant and bar are open Monday-Friday evenings from 5pm until midnight, then for lunch and dinner service on Saturdays. Spiced aromas and low lighting will guide you down the staircase surrounded by chinoiserie wallpaper and gleaming brass accents.

Inside, tables are dotted with small, red-fringed lamps, casting sultry lighting and mysterious shadows around the space where you can just as easily slip into a clandestine corner for surreptitious gossip over cocktails as you can take up space by gathering as a group for larger get togethers over a fusion feast.

The Edwardian-era building provides plenty of characterful private dining nooks to suit special occasions and add another layer of intrigue to your evening: The Opium Saloon (16 guests), The Den (38 guests), The Snake Charmer (24 guests) and a Chef’s Table experience is available for 9 guests at a time.

A place where culinary artistry meets unparalleled luxury, Shanghai Noir strives to infuse every moment with the essence of indulgence and refinement; whether that’s providing Saturday lunchtime sustenance through starters and small plates, or layering tables with colourful collusions of Chef’s specials and sides for an evening’s event at this Indo-Chinese fine dining restaurant.

Familiar calling cards of Chinese cuisine take on complex flavour profiles or twists on tradition with an Indo-spin. Seared black bean scallops, Paneer garlic cream mushroom bao, Devil’s chicken lollipop, and Green papaya & mango salad bring zest, depth and tang to dishes that can either be eaten as starters, a moreish accompaniment to cocktails, or ordered in abundance for a tasting table full of delicious smaller servings.

Innovative mains include a bold Chef’s Selection showcasing next level Eastern-inspired creations. Embrace the opulence of the era with the likes of garlic Pak choy stew and jasmine rice, finished with gold leaf. Bhot Jolakhiya Chilli Chicken with Glenmorangie Fire prepares spatchcock chicken with the hottest chilli in the world for a flavourful hit that is hard to beat, and whole Cantonese Steamed Ginger Sea Bream permeates the air with delicate aromatics of lemon, fresh herbs, and ginger root.

The selection of homemade steamed Dumplings is a must-try, with fillings such as lamb, chicken or vegetables, served with tomato & key lime chutney as well as the option to add a broth. Shanghai Noodles come stir-fried Calcutta ‘Street Style’, or as soft buckwheat soba drenched in a red seafood broth and brimming with catch of the day fish, mussels, squid & octopus.

Desserts provide spectacle as well as substance with the signature Coconut Lychee Pannacotta with Pandan leaf-infused coconut pudding, lychee cream, fresh lychee & tapioca pearls, served within a dramatic dry ice bath.

Have you ever been served from an Assassin’s Teapot? Or sat down to share a Smoking Dragon? Masterfully created cocktails come laced with intriguing new layers of fusion flavour beautifully served within clever contraptions that immerse guests evermore into the Shanghai Noir experience.

The Shanghai Noir Firecracker comes smoking inside the Assassin’s Teapot; an intriguing artefact from history, embodying both ingenuity and malevolence. This teapot’s clever design once allowed the host to serve different beverages (or in the most nefarious cases, poison) to guests from the same vessel, simply by pressing a specific mechanism or aligning the teapot’s spout in a particular way. Now the hidden brew consists of nothing more sinister than a refreshing, punchy blend of Szechuan pepper infused gin, Campari, vermouth, orange bitters, mango & soda. The signature shake-up can also be theatrically served for two to share in the show stopping, intricately designed glass dragon. It’s the perfect place to enjoy sinfully decadent drinks! 

Other Indo-Chinese concoctions to be sure to sample include a fruity, aromatic take on the classic Margarita, The Shanghai (Tequila Blanco, kiwi, coriander, lime & almond); and The Pearl, a sweet creamy blend of vodka, pistachio & lychee to honour the generations of sweet makers from the two nations.  

The wine list is well researched and helpfully split into sections of those that go best with either Indian spice or Oriental flavours. And for an even more premium experience, an impressive offering of Fine Wines features sought-after French vintages ready to impress including: the Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, Domaine de la Janasse, Rhône, France (2020) for £160 per bottle; and the Château Rocheyron Grand Cru St-Emilion, Bordeaux, France (2011) for £245 per bottle.

A luxurious, East Asian dining experience in the heart of London’s Westminster, Shanghai Noir lifts the veil on an iconic era of glitz, glamour and mystery that begs to be explored. Attentive service, charming vibe, delish cuisine, stylish presentation, luxe decor all in all makes it a meal experience to remember! Highly Recommended! 

About the Executive Chef of Shanghai Noir: Amit Bagyal

Amit Bagyal is a highly creative Indian origin chef in London with over 16 years of experience in the culinary industry.

He’s also been the executive chef of fine dining Indian restaurant Yaatra, before that Amit was the Head Chef of Kanishka, where he oversaw the kitchens of Kanishka Mayfair, Kanishka Kitchen Heathrow, and Mathura Restaurant. He was responsible for ensuring the high standards of fine dining, culinary skills, and food and beverage were maintained.

Chef Amit has also held positions as the Sous Chef at Michelin-starred Benares in Mayfair from 2019-2021 where they regained their Michelin star, Head Chef of Masala Dabbas Foods from 2017-2019 and Senior Sous Chef at the Strand Palace Hotel from 2016-2017. Over the years, Amit has developed his trademark cooking style of taking tried and tested Indian dishes and giving them his own bold spin with fine-dining levels of presentation. 

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