Mode Kitchen and Bar (Four Seaons Circular Quay) tried and for the most part created a successful experience as part of Vivid Sydney but since 2017, and by international standards, Shanghai are light years away in setting the benchmark for the hybrid digital art dining experience
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 (the latest, birthed in 2016) – are on weekly rotations. Within each, expect the unexpected delivered through 20ish courses broken into four acts (plus 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-roll video shuttles guests through Shanghai to a secret non-descript location on the outskirts of the city. From there, a large door opens leading in to 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 well-choreographed waiters.