Shanghai Oriental: A modern twist on the Chinese food we know and love

There’s nothing better than being pleasantly surprised by a new restaurant – an unexpected positive twist to a meal you otherwise thought might just be OK.

Well that’s exactly the feeling I got after a recent visit to Shanghai Oriental, a modern Cantonese restaurant in Larkhall.

Having been a regular takeaway customer at their sister restaurant Shanghai Teahouse in Bothwell, I wasn’t convinced venturing out on a cold, dreich, night would top a takeaway on the sofa.

Smack bang in the middle of a deserted street, the eatery sits in the former Royal Bank of Scotland building on Union Street.

But when I pushed back the plush velvet drape covering the doorway and stepped inside, I immediately knew I was wrong.

The place was mobbed, teeming with hungry diners dressed in their glad rags, and the refurbishments inside are impressive. 

The extensive menu was created in collaboration by Asian-Scots celebrity chef and TikTok phenomenon, Jimmy Lee.

Jimmy, a regular chef on ITV’s This Morning show and owner of Glasgow’s award-winning Lychee Oriental, spent months teaching the Shanghai Oriental kitchen staff to assist them increase their understanding of oriental cooking.

The menu combines traditional flavours with modern cooking techniques.

We started with crispy duck rolls, king prawn toast and chargrilled chicken satay skewers, utterly delicious. The prawn toast is crispy and not greasy and the chicken is well cooked and the sauce is fragrant and full of that wonderful peanut flavour. 

So far, it was the comforting Chinese food we’ve all been brought up on, but put together with a delicate and authentic touch.

As we waited for our mains we were amazed at the constant queue of customers waiting to pick up a takeaway, always a good sign.

Next we had a succulent fillet of beef smothered in a rich and mouth-watering green pepper and black bean sauce.

Alongside it we enjoyed a sticky honey chilli chicken, it was warm without too much of a kick, and incredibly moreish. It was served with some good old fashioned egg fried rice and chips.

I was really blown away by the whole meal, it was one the best meals out I have had this year. The atmosphere was lively and the staff were friendly. 

Shanghai Oriental is well worth a visit. An unexpected delight that was much much more than just OK. 

Shanghai Oriental, 108 Union St, Larkhall ML9 1EF. 01698 886021

Don’t miss the January issue of Scottish Field magazine.