On Stepping Into Shanghai: Tuan Tuan Chinese Brasserie, SM Megamall
Updated: Oct 8, 2022
Shanghai in the 1920s: Cosmopolitan, multinational, and affluent. The city's international settlement saw Western powers occupy different concessions and contribute to its unique history during this period. Occidental ideas and tastes also started to enter Shanghai, which added to the city's renown in a time of turmoil.
Tuan Tuan Chinese Brasserie at the third floor of SM Megamall's Mega Fashion Hall immortalizes this era in history. It prides itself in serving cuisines from Hong Kong and Macau in a dining area inspired by Paris, the City of Lights. Stepping in the restaurant brings one to the opulent Shanghai of the Roaring Twenties and Thirties, before the Second World War.
Old Shanghai mementos such as vintage posters and items from the era line the restaurant's walls. The gray walls, reminiscent of those at the old Xintiandi district, deviate from the traditional red hues of Chinese restaurant. The background music adds a vintage touch to the establishment, with an English version of Edith Piaf’s "La Vie en Rose" playing. But if you ask me, two songs from legendary chanteuse Zhou Xuan – "The Wandering Songstress" and "Song of Four Seasons" – would be better choices.
Tuan Tuan Chinese Brasserie first gained popularity through its barbecued pork snow buns that can match that of its rival, Hong Kong dimsum restaurant Tim Ho Wan. Tuan Tuan's snow buns provided a more affordable alternative to the Michelin Star restaurant's pork buns. Aside from the snow buns, Tuan Tuan also offered noodle soup that can be customized with different broth bases and toppings. However, the restaurant stood out from its counterparts thanks to their Hong Kong-style coffee and tea drinks that used Black and White Condensed Milk from the Netherlands. The milk imparted a rich and sweet taste to Tuan Tuan's beverage offerings.
Part of Tuan Tuan's appeal was allowing people to see its Crispy Barbecue Pork Snow Buns being made. The joint did not scrimp on its barbecue filling for its buns as one bite revealed a hefty amount! While Tuan Tuan's snow buns are slightly cheaper, they definitely gave Tim Ho Wan's version a run for its money. Outside the snow buns, the restaurant also had rice meals such as the House Special Trio on Rice. This Macanese specialty combined three rice toppings – seafood, wild mushroom, and pork chop – in one huge plate.
Tuan Tuan's beverages definitely left a good impression thanks to the richness of Black and White Condensed Milk. The Cold Nai Cha epitomized this richness with its dominant milky taste, though I found it too sweet at times. Thankfully, it had ice that diluted the drink as it melted. Meanwhile, the Thai Iced Tea also benefited from the Dutch condensed milk brand with an extra hint of milky sweetness that balanced out the tea.
Until the next review, bon appetit!