While the criteria are never clearly defined, a restaurant is deemed to be of “Michelin calibre” based purely on the quality of its food. However, the annual guide’s listings do tend to bear some physical resemblance with each other. Think of all those exquisite dining spaces, composed of impeccably white tablecloths, tall, spotless walls, grand chandeliers and designer furnishings. Shanghai’s newest three Michelin-starred restaurant, however, turns that conventional à la carte dining model on its head.
Enter Ultraviolet, an avant-garde restaurant by Paul Pairet that offers a multi-sensory and interactive dining experience. It is the latest addition to the Michelin Guide Shanghai, which has just released its sophomore edition featuring a total of 129 restaurants. Ultraviolet joins the prestigious top spot with T’ang Court, both surpassing the city’s list of two-starred restaurants that has remained unchanged since last year.
Opened in 2012, Ultraviolet bears no address; its location in the city is kept secret. Nevertheless, it hosts 10 guests at its clandestine location every night. There, diners are brought to a cocoon-like dining space and gathered at a single spot-lit table. And then the magic happens.
With the help of a high-tech wraparound projection system that utilises video, audio and bespoke lighting, the dining room is transformed throughout the evening. During one meal, guests are transported to the Black Forest, with atomizer sprays infusing the room with the scent of soil to evoke the smell of the forest floor; over a course of deconstructed fish and chips, the 360-degree screens display images of the Union Jack and creates a backdrop of steady London rainfall instead.
Ultraviolet offers an innovative dining experience that stimulates the senses and is truly unlike any other in the world — and it has a menu to match. Chef Paul Pairet’s creations are imaginative, as exemplified by the “Tomato Mozza And Again”. This is a pair of dishes that look identical but contrast sharply in taste: one savoury, one sweet. One thing they do have in common, however, is that they both taste good, worthy of all three Michelin stars like the rest of Pairet’s dishes.
This is hardly the first big success of Pairet’s career, though. Back in 2012, the French chef was named the inaugural recipient of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards’ highly prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.