Sense 8

Sense 8 is a lavish Cantonese restaurant that pays tribute to Hong Kong’s well-known old-school teahouse, Luk Yu. This is the third branch of the brand in Shanghai, located in the newly minted Raffles City Changning. Yes, a mall. It’s sequestered away from retail shops, tucked in a corner of the fourth floor, with ample breadth for its imposing entrance.

Like the other venues (Xintiandi and Joy City) it has that same lavish touch. The style is akin to antique and imperial Chinese décor on acid. None of that minimalist contemporary modesty—it’s a glittering outpost of red and gold adorned with crystal chandeliers.

The food is actually quite good, marvelous in fact, and relative to the quality of what’s served. Coupled with tip-top service, it adds up to a good value meal. In addition to a voluminous menu of Cantonese dishes, they have a supplementary dim sum menu with another 30-plus items. It feeds an A-to-Z profile of diners, and, to solidify their position as an all-inclusive restaurant, they also have banquet dishes.

The Steamed Green Crab with Rice Wine on Rice Noodles (RMB368), one of the eight banquet dishes, is perhaps the most impressive. The sauce is made of Shaoxing wine, chicken stock, chicken oil, and egg yolk. Changfen (rice noodle rolls) sits at the base of the dish, soaking up the luscious gravy. The meat of the fat Philippines-imported crab is fresh and wispy, and is expertly sectioned off for easy consumption.

Another banquet dish is the Casserole of Braised Rice with Fresh Lobster (RMB368). The wokhei (breath of wok) in this dish brings back memories of our favorite hawker centers in Southeast Asia.

Couple those with a few of their standards like Cantonese classic honey roasted pork and roasted pork belly (RMB128), and you’ve got yourself a feast fit for an emperor.

They do have a controversial item on the menu: shark’s fin. What can I say about shark’s fin without shooting myself in the foot? They serve it here, and they serve it well, in the form of the Simmered Chicken with Wontons and Shark’s Fin Casserole (RMB398/half chicken, RMB798/whole).

Growing up, shark’s fin was a staple on my family’s reunion dinner table. Some people, with maintaining traditions in mind, are looking for the dish. There’s no conscientious way to say it: sharks are on the verge of endangerment—but if you’ve tried the fin, you can’t deny that it tastes good. Even if Sense 8 removed the shark’s fin from the lip-smacking broth, I’m certain the dish would still be delicious.

Aside from the mall location, it’s a solid dining option, if you’re in the area and in need of this kind of cuisine. Sense 8 is best suited for entertaining business or for weddings whereby extravagance and bling are a prerequisite. Or for when you’re feeling fancy.

Address: No. 24, 4/F, North Block, Raffles City Changning, 1189 Changning Lu (near Kaixuan Lu) 长宁路1189号来福士广场东区4层24号 (近凯旋路)

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