I’m not a fan of desserts, but if there was a lemon tart on the menu, I’d be all in.
Here are some of my favorite lemon desserts in Shanghai, from the most creative at the best restaurants to the everyday tart from my neighborhood bakery.
Mr & Mrs Bund – Lemon & Lemon Tart
6/F, Bund 18, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Nanjing Dong Lu 中山东一路18号6楼，近南京东路 // Tel: 63239898
The Lemon & Lemon Tart (¥110 + 10% service charge) is the signature dessert at Mr & Mrs Bund, one of my top five restaurants in Shanghai. It’s by luminary chef/founder Paul Pairet (Ultraviolet, Chop Chop Club, and Polux).
Lemon sorbet, silky lemon curd, a fresh pomelo wedge, and vanilla Chantilly is ladled into a candied lemon shell, served as a whole lemon. Don’t wait too long before slicing into the dessert, as the Chantilly and sorbet can melt quite quickly.
Creating this masterpiece is a three-day process. So rest assured it’s not something you could possibly replicate at home or at any other restaurant. It’s a true grown-up dessert.
Fun facts: The Orange & Orange Tart (¥100+10%) actually came first, created in 1996! Paul Pairet served his first iteration at a restaurant called Mozaic in Paris. The first version of the Lemon & Lemon Tart was served at Jade on 36. Later, Pairet created the Mandarin & Mandarin Tart for the UVA menu at Ultraviolet.
Hakkasan – Lemon Pot
5/F, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Nanjing Dong Lu 中山东一路18号5楼，近南京东路 // Tel: 63215888
Just downstairs of MMB is Hakkasan, where they serve my #2 favorite lemon dessert.
Hakkasan’s Lemon Pot (¥108+10%) has the most variations of lemon-flavored parts that are not only tasty but also appropriately portioned. It’s made with lemon curd, lemon ice cream, soft and crunchy meringue, lemon confit, and a lemon yogurt mousse that canvases the bottom of the cup.
Pain Chaud – Lemon Tart
41 Yongkang Lu, near Jiashan Lu 永康路41号，近嘉善路 // Tel: 54565220
256 Jianguo Xi Lu, near Jiashan Lu 建国西路256号, 近嘉善路 // Tel: 33560520
Pain Chaud is my neighborhood bakery, and I stop in at least once a week, mostly to pick up a couple baguettes (¥15/baguette) and to take advantage of the “30% off after 8pm” deal. The quality of the baguettes are amazing—warm, crunchy, freshly baked, and fragrant. It’s my favorite bakery in Shanghai.
The Lemon Tart (¥30) is a hefty slice of lemon curd, a short crust pastry, and soft meringue. It’s an accessible, if not frugal option. Double espresso for ¥25 to wash it all down.
Bistro 321 Le Bec – Tart Au Citron
321 Xinhua Lu, near Dingxi Lu 新华路321号，近定西路 // Tel: 62419100
Bistro 321 Le Bec is another one of my top five restaurants in Shanghai. Rustic French fare, unbeatable historic villa ambience, and their bread!
The Tart Au Citron (¥70) has a buttery crust that is hard and crumbly, smooth and tangy custard made with lemon and yuzu, and is topped with fluffy lemon meringue. It isn’t at all overpowering and is sufficiently zesty and well balanced. Dine-in is ¥70, takeaway is ¥50.
The Commune Social – Lemon Meringue Basil
511 Jiangning Lu, near Kangding Lu 江宁路511号， 近康定路 // Tel: 60477638
Singling out one dessert to call my favorite at brunch hot spot The Commune Social is an easy choice. Pastry chef Kim Melvin’s Lemon Meringue with Basil Sorbet (¥62) is an absolute delight—it’s light, refreshing, and a great palate cleanser after a brunch/dinner. A snowball-like sphere of hard meringue encases a zesty layer of lemon meringue. At its center is a bright, invigorating basil sorbet.
Al’s Baking Co – Key Lime Pie
174 Xiangyang Nan Lu, near Fuxing Zhong Lu 襄阳南路174号, 近复兴中路 // Tel: 54249590
The Key Lime Pie (¥28/slice, ¥198/whole) at Al’s Baking Co is dense and rich with a sugary, buttery crust. For a whole pies to go, Al’s Baking Co is about the only option in town.
La Boulangerie by le Comptoir de Pierre Gagnaire
1/F, 480 Jianguo Xi Lu, near Yueyang Lu 建国西路480号1楼, 近岳阳路 // Tel: 54669928
La Boulangerie by le Comptoir de Pierre Gagnaire, aka the bakery outside Capella Shanghai hotel, does some pretty awesome breads and desserts. I usually stop in to get the Croissant aux Amandes (¥20), a dense almond pastry that could easily be my lunch.
They too have a Tarte Citron (¥45/small, ¥218/large) has a sharp, zesty lemon curd and crumbly, buttery pastry. It’s topped with a bit too much soft meringue for my liking, though.