Doug Pua and Ailène Ting opened the first Shangri-La restaurant in Briargate in 2003, offering high-end Chinese cuisine with mandarin and Sichuan specialties.
They retired in 2020, but the current owners, Kian Loo and his family, have had great success. “We’ve had a lot of requests to have a presence in another part of town – the east, the south and the west too – but we can’t do it all,” Loo said. “The opportunity presented itself to expand [east], and we liked the location.
Shangri-La East is at the end of a mall that shares a parking lot with a Kum & Go – gas stations are unlikely neighbors for high-end dining, but great food can be anywhere.
On our first visit, we noticed a heavy take-out traffic as we waited for our food in front of the large, clean and welcoming dining room, which features a beautiful fresco of a Buddha. We’re also waiting for a take-out box: Rangoons crab, bang bang shrimp, orange chicken and bourbon chicken. Rangoons crab rates bran and bang bang shrimp – prawns wrapped in bacon – are a sure winner.
As for the Orange Chicken, which is traditionally a citrus variant of General Tso’s Chicken, it’s executed well. Ordered over medium heat, its thick sauce has a noticeable but mild spice that builds up bite-by-bite, and the orange flavor stands out against the hot, flavorful sauce. The breadcrumbs on the chicken stay crisp, even after 20 minutes on the road. A healthier option, Bourbon Chicken, consists of tender, chewy pieces of chicken thigh cooked with broccoli in a savory, savory brown sauce that features some of the more woody notes of bourbon. The bourbon taste, to note, penetrates deeper into the chicken than the rest of the sauce, so there is a bit of a change as we chew. Both chicken dishes are high in protein which is good value for money.
To enjoy the best features of Shangri-La, we suggest dining there, as we did on our second visit – our server was visibly friendly and attentive, and we take note of a few bottles of premium whiskeys behind the bar, as well as a small wooden barrel of a premixed Old Fashioned cocktail.
The hot pot section of the menu, we’re told, isn’t the traditional simmered broth with protein and veg for dipping, but rather a sizzling pan similar to how fajitas are sometimes served. The homemade pot contains shrimp, chicken, beef and a variety of vegetables, and when taken out our server puts onions on the hot cast iron pan before adding the meat, other vegetables and sauce. The three proteins chew as tenderly as they can get, and the rich, sweet sauce pleases, with hints of oyster sauce and all. With a reconstituted portion of fried rice, this is a very filling meal.
To try one of the Sichuan offerings, we order a Sichuan soybean curd dinner. Right away, there is something special about wonton soup: bacon. Yes, thin slices of bacon dance through the slightly viscous broth, adding nice depth and smoke without overwhelming. Another Rangoon crab, crispy chicken wing, and egg roll – which are also part of the dinner combo – all enjoy the bran. The starter itself, ordered over medium heat, has tender tofu and flavorful vegetables in a brown sauce that has enough Szechuan pepper in it so that we get tangs from the expected numbness but no actual chilli burn. .
Having said that, it bears repeating that we had a great time at the Shangri-La. Good service and a little sizzle made it a fun night out.