A Chocoholic's Guide to Shanghai: Brian Tan's Hof--new hangout for chocolate geeks

Travel | by Rebekah Pothaar
Posted: September 2nd, 2009 | Updated: September 25th, 2010 | Comments
The name is Hof (House of Flour). Having just opened in July, I realized Hof was worth a nice mention after my second visit there in one week. After reading a great review of the place on Smart Shanghai and hearing Trista Baldwin (City Weekend's former dining editor) rave about the desserts and cocktails, I decided to check it out. The owner Brian Tan will happily sit down and talk chocolate shop with you. Did you know that different chocolate beans--like different wine regions and coffee regions--have their own regional flavors? Hof's desserts are made from three different types of cocao from the Caribbean, Madagascar and Venezuela. Brian is a self-declared "chocolate geek." He knows his stuff and would happily share his knowledge with you.  Last night he pulled out a bag of chocolate from Venezuela to let us try. Our eyes were glazed over and we stopped listening to what he was saying, but the chocolate was divine... At any rate, Hof is now my new favorite spot for chocolate desserts/cocktails/nibbles for its nice atmosphere, friendly staff, the chocolate fudge brownie, the orange chocolate mud cake and yummy cocktails. Also the bruschetta (black olive tapenade/parmesan cheese) and pizzas are good to nibble on and the cheese plate at the neighboring table looked good enough to catch my admiring gaze... Apparently the mixologists at Constellation helped out with the cocktail list: cocktails you must try are Shanghai Mei Mei and Cocoa, both are fantastic! So, yes, I probably shouldn't be telling you this, because it was already hard enough to get a table there last night...but it's just sooooo good! Make a reservation if you go in the evenings. After being open for a little over a month, it seems the word has gotten out. At the moment, the food menu is small, but Brian Tan told me he is starting slow so the kitchen and staff master everything, before expanding the menu. And while the place is only now open from 3pm-12 midnight (closed on Mondays), he has plans to open for lunch when the place is ready. So far, so good.  Brian pretty much had us at hello... Hof is definitely a place to hang out with friends and snack on sweets, appetizers and cocktails (average spending on my last two visits was around 200 RMB). The atmosphere is sort of Enoteca meets Whisk meets Constellation 2 with some of the nice aspects of all three.  Smart Shanghai's Christopher St Cavish has written a more indepth and balanced review of Hof that is worth a read. Address: Hof (House of Flour) 30 Sinan Lu, near Huaihai Zhong Lu (between Huaihai Zhong Lu and Nanchang Lu) For reservations: 6093-2058, 6093-2052
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