Dinner at this Shanghai restaurant starts at 7:30pm, after the guests have been driven to the windowless venue from another meeting spot by two vans. Once they’re seated at this restaurant called Ultraviolet, giant projections of red brick walls appear and start to shift upwards quickly, creating the illusion that the entire room is sinking. This is followed by the sound of cracking stone, a starry sky, and the ringing of a church bell. Only then do waiters appear to serve the appetizer: a frozen wasabi-flavoured apple juice ball.
Housed in a former warehouse in central Shanghai, China, this brainchild of French-born Paul Pairet serves a 22-course banquet aiming to stimulate all five senses, to just ten guests a night. “I want a single table that I can master. Once you control every element — from time and food to atmosphere — you make your own opera,” says Pairet. Each course is served with tailored set of visuals, sound and smell. Guests enjoy steamed lobsters as images of crashing waves are projected onto the walls, the refreshing smell of ocean sprayed from diffusers and the sound of waves played through the speakers. A dream launch
The restaurant, which opened in May is a dream come true for Pairet, who at 18-years-old decided to make a business out of one or the other of his hobbies — photography or cooking. After he graduated, he drew attention at Cafe Mosaic in Paris. Over a course of 10 years, Pairet travelled to Hong Kong, Sydney, and Istanbul, finally settling in Shanghai in 2005 to open Jade on 36, a restaurant in the Shangri-La hotel. In late 2009, he laid out $2.5 million to renovate the space, paired each course with a beverage — mostly wine, sometimes sherry, beer and Chinese tea — and a scenario which he boasted could stimulate the customer’s “psycho-taste.”
The experience does not come cheap, at 2,000 yuan (approx Rs.17,500) a guest, but seatings are booked through the September. Does the experience really add to the food? “If I tell you what all the guests told me, I would appear pretentious,” Pairet says. Reuters