Conception to creation: The launch of this restaurant took avant-garde French chef Paul Pairet 16 years to bring to fruition and when it opened in 2012, it was well worth the wait. Pairet’s menus aren’t whipped up lightly; each takes years to conceive. When you experience the intricacies that go into the multi-sensory experience, you’ll totally understand why. Sure, there are theatrics and high-tech graphics involved, but it’s clear that food always comes first. The dish marks the point of genesis from which everything surrounding grows.
The menus: Three options are available: UVA (which debuted in 2012); UVB (a classic since 2013); and UVC (birthed in 2016). Each has been recently refreshed and they are on weekly rotations. Whichever version you land upon, expect the unexpected, delivered through 20-ish courses broken into four acts (and intermission) – ranging from DIY BLT (a picnic that allows you to piece together your own special sandwich) to Foie Gras Can’t Quit, crisp fruit skin cigar stub jam-packed with foie gras that sits in an ashtray dotted with black cabbage ‘ash’.
What to expect? Something extraordinary. The adventure begins at Pairet’s other venue Mr & Mrs Bund. Here, diners meet and enjoy cocktails; a first bite, brief explanation and an option to peek at the night’s menu (but who wants to spoil the surprise?). A van with pre-rolled video shuttles guests through Shanghai to a secret non-descript location in the city. From there, a large door opens onto the main room – seemingly bare walls surround a single table with your name illuminated on your seat. What starts out as a stark room transforms in coordination with the meal as sight, sound and smell merge as the dishes arrive, carried by a superbly choreographed service team.