After the success of Jade on 36 and Mr & Mrs Bund, Paul Pairet has upped the ante on Shanghai’s dining scene again with Ultraviolet, an intriguing restaurant that blends food, ambiance and technology. Moving beyond your usual molecular gastronomy, the acclaimed chef’s latest launch brings all five senses to life in a minimalist room featuring customized video and light projections, soundtracks, scents and even hot or cold air, among other museum-standard technologies.
The concept is based on what the Frenchman calls “psycho-taste,” his belief that food is about emotions and staging the ambience willenhance the food served and the memory of it. “[It’s] like wine pairing, but with atmosphere,” explains Pairet.
Meals are a convivial affair with a single dining table. The restaurant’s location is undisclosed so guests are ferried to the restaurant at the same time, embarking on the three-hour culinary journey together.
For now, there’s just one fixed-price menu featuring a staggering 22 courses, which includes drink pairings such as wine, as well as clever concoctions crafted with Pairet’s whimsical style: a dessert of flash-frozen Coca-Cola Pop Rocks candy is served with gummy-flavored Evian water, for example.
Scenarios are staged to complement the cuisine. Truffle burnt soup bread, a dish combining the surprisingly addictive flavors of cigar smoke, burnt bread, meuniere sauce and truffles, makes its entrance amid scenes of a dark, mist-filled wood accompanied by a haunting piano melody. At the same time a hidden door opens up to reveal a real-life giant Camphor tree root.
With just 10 seats each night and bookings that fill up quickly, you’ll invariably find yourself alongside longtime Pairet fans. Pairet’s artful cuisine may be the star of the show, but the blend of senses, and ultimately emotions, adds up to an impression that is certainly greater than the sum of its parts.