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Hope Star (Shanghai, China)

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Restaurant in Pudong International Airport, Shanghai, China.

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      02.08.2012 14:12
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      An attractive restaurant serving mediocre food

      Hope Star Coffee Shops seemed to dominate Terminal 1 in Pudong International Airport having three restaurants on the top floor above the departure area. There are other small restaurants but mainly serving fast Chinese food. It was around 11am when we decided to look for something to eat having spent the night in one of the airport hotels. This particular hotel called itself a motel. I am never really sure what the difference between a hotel and a motel is but never mind on with the story. Motel 168 didn't serve breakfast so this is why we were mooching around in the airport looking for food. At this time I didn't fancy a bowl of Chinese food or a burger. I wanted a sandwich or something with bread. Hope Star came to my rescue.

      Hope Star are a Chinese franchise of sophisticated looking cafes with a central semi-circular bar, cream leather chairs spread throughout with lacquered wooden tables. The floor is carpeted in a shade of brown, palm trees have been planted very nicely in large Chinese pots; ones with dragons painted on the front. I noticed lots of sweet scented lilies and the slate grey thick vases they came forth from. I also liked the stone water features which were minimalist in design. The gentle sound of water trickling is very calming in a café.

      There was a large number of staff walking around cleaning up debris from the tables. It wasn't long before one young girl caught our eye and came straight over with a menu. This particular waitress was dressed very smartly with her long black hair tied in a plaited bun on top of her head; she had a very nice manner and seemed to enjoy her job.

      The menu consisted of a selection of teas, coffees, cakes, soups, sandwiches including ham and cheese which I love when I am starving, Chinese dishes and desserts like blueberry cheesecake.

      I thought the prices for beverages were about right for an airport. Coffees ranged from 39CNY (£4) to 45CNY (£4.50) for a 330ml cup. Teas are of the leaf variety and are more expensive. Yellow Label Tea costs 68CNY (£6.80) for a pot. I ordered a Cappuccino which was served in a pretty blue and gold cup. The milk was creamy rather than frothy; the coffee was very strong and piping hot underneath the cream. The waitress also brought me a glass of water. This happens a lot in Chinese hotels and restaurants. Water is available freely and there always seems to be a jug on every table. My husband stuck with the water as he doesn't like to drink a lot of hot beverages. We both chose a cheese and ham sandwich. The order took about 10 minutes from writing it down on a slip of paper. The waitress gave the order to a young man and off he went down the concourse outside the café. The food is prepared in another part of the airport and delivered by trolley. I was excited when I saw our sandwiches; 4 triangular double decker sandwiches with a covering of corn chips on the top. The whole meal bread was toasted on the outside and inside was a layer of lettuce, tomato, mustard, mayonnaise, cheese, ham. The layers were skewered together with cocktail sticks that had coloured endings of blue, red and orange. We both really enjoyed these sandwiches costing 31CNY which is the equivalent of £3. Very good value, I think.

      Having had good service once we went back to the same establishment later on in the day for a proper meal. This time the waitress was a bit frostier but efficient. She took our orders speedily. We ordered 2 Chinese beers which were served immediately. The taste was fine but they were weak having an alcohol content of 4% only. We both liked the look of the set meal consisting of a soup, snack and main dish. The soup was meant to be a chicken soup only my husband didn't find any pieces of chicken and I only had a couple of small pieces that looked like sections of neck. My husband said his looked like greasy dishwater and left it.

      For our main dishes we chose one beef with vegetables and rice and one beef curry. I had eaten noodles most of the week in Shanghai and fancied a change so opted for a rice dish plus I wanted to practice my chop stick technique. The main dishes took about 10 minutes to arrive and when placed on the table looked substantial although I did think the beef and sauce looked like it had come out of a tin. Having tasted the meat I was sure my first instinct was correct. The beef chunks were definitely from a tin with fatty bits included. The beef and vegetable dish consisted of 2 pieces of red pepper, I piece of yellow pepper and two triangular slices of cucumber. Rice was sticky and presented from a mould. I liked the taste of the rice, it was scented and spicy. My husband's beef curry was extremely hot but tasted more of curry powder than any other spice. He also thought that the meat was tinned and too fatty. He left quite a few pieces. The price for both set meals including a beer each was the equivalent of 12 pounds which is cheap. The food wasn't revolting; it just wasn't what we were expecting. It filled a gap. At the end of the meal my husband marked his meal 5/10 and I gave my dish 6/10.

      I think the Hope Star café is very attractive and the service is good. The sandwiches we had in the morning were enjoyable and very filling. However, the set meal was a bit of a disaster, I forgot to mention the snack; a couple of cubes of ginger and two pieces of carrot, both of these were stale and had seen better days. Next time I will give it a miss and try one of the smaller Chinese fast food restaurants.

      Address: Pudong International Airport, Shanghai

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