Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Xiao Wang Fu - Ritan, Temple of Heaven

(This is another China post, out of order, out of sync, lost and now found!) Xiao Wang's Home Restaurant in Ritan serves high quality traditional home-style comfort food in an unpretentious atmosphere. No frills, just straight up awesome food. We lunched here after a super long power walk through Ritan Park, passing beautiful landscaped lawns, ponds and organized groups of local Chinese moving to Tai Chi, kung fu, chasing kites, dancing, hold hands, etc. For Beijing, it was a beautiful day with good visibility, not the usual dense no-visibility.
Our host had ordered ahead of time I think. When we sat down, food started coming out immediately - boiled shrimp, steamed celery, seaweed, stir-fry chicken, Asian greens, fresh lotus root, noodles, tofu crab soup, sea cucumber...
Sea Cucumber and Leeks in a type of oyster sauce. My favorite preparation. So delicious!
Can you taste how slippery it is? Intense combo of flavors and textures. Extra chewy and slippery this time ;)
Steamed fish in meats, mushrooms, ginger, soy, so delicate and the flavors were to die for.
This could have been the best fish I've ever had. Omg, I remember it so well. Seriously awesome fish.
Every bite was so silky, tender, fresh, flaky. Is the plating sloppy? Who cares. The flavors were mind-blowing!
Tofu crab soup. It was just so good. What else can I say?
Ritan Park - Where locals pay an entrance fee to enjoy the outdoors.

Temple of Heaven - There were many temples we visited. All buildings have been maintained, repainted with railings and signs put up to protect and teach. Not one word about buddism.
 The Hall of Prayer.

dinner out somewhere in Beijing

(Another China post...) Our car picked us up from The Legendale and took us to this restaurant, about 40 minutes out. Decor was Asian industrial chic with lots monochromatic greys, stone, glass and clean lines. The ceiling was dramatic and artsy with upside down floating yellow silk parasols.
Cold, dark, masculine and theatrical. I can't remember the name of this restaurant, so if anyone recognizes this place, please tell! Throughout the space were wall murals of dragons and other mythological creatures made of solid stone and brick, in all shades of grey. We walked past numerous enormous concrete graffiti  pieces before we finally reached our private dining room.
We entered through glass doors held by concrete and grey stone walls half covered in heavy dark burgundy velvet curtains. Dramatic spot lights, white linens, white china, black-and-white chargers, crystal glassware... Servers in uniforms matching the walls and curtains filled the lazy susan with bright appetizers and poured juice, tea and wine. Very goth, felt like we were vampires feasting on blood red wine, creepy soup, black chopsticks, etc. ;)
Sea cucumber in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) broth was served first. Sea cucumber is an important medicinal food in Chinese cuisine, an expensive delicacy reserved for special occasions. When sea cucumber is served whole like this, eating it can be a bit tricky. Where to begin eating this spiky cucumber shape that is slippery and chewy? Well, just spoon it up and give it a firm bite from one end :) 
This wormy twiggy-looking item is TCM, beneficial to your blood, vitals, kidneys, etc. Tastes like a tree branch. This TCM twig and the sea cucumber are flavorless, and usually served in soups or dishes where they soak up the flavors of the surrounding ingredients.
Dishes and dishes of bright colorful food kept coming. I finally understood the point of the colorless room, physically and metaphorically - a blank canvas for the incredible vibrant dishes! 
The food was incredible! Food overload. Awesome flavors.
Everything was family style except for the Sea Cucumber Soup and Dessert Fruit Plate.
There were so many spotlessly clean crystal clear glass walls, I actually walked right into a few ;-/
Sorry I can't provide the name and location of this place. It's somewhere in Beijing and the food was amazing and atmosphere was unusually eery! 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Legendale Hotel - Cafe and Breakfast Room

I just found a bunch of breakfast pix from the China trip I forgot to post. I just love the The Cafe/Breakfast Room at the glitzy The Legendale Hotel Beijing. Killer power breakfast each morning :)
Egg Station - this guy can make it all for the white man Westerner...whites, omelets, scrambles, over-easy, poach, over-easy. You get the idea.
Noodle Station - My absolute favorite station of all time! Choose between fresh rice noodles, egg noodles, ramen and dunk it in broth, condiments, veggies, meats...
Waffle Station - Not one visitor the entire time I was watching.
West-Euro Spread - Cheeses, crackers, antipasti, cold pasta salads, seafood salads, potato salad...
Jap Spread - Seaweed salad, tofu, pickled fishes...
Congee Station - My other fave. Choose between 3 porridges and all the popular delish toppings.
Hot foods on hot pads - fried rice, dumplings, greens, stir-fries, everything... super buffet style.
Cereal and Juice Station - all fresh juices...popular green celery juice, apple juice, oj, grapefruit, fresh warm soy milk, cold soy milk, dairy yogurt, soy yogurt...
Fruit Station - fresh and dried fruits, complete with exotic Asian fruits like dragon fruit.
Over the course of 8 days, I ate...

For more of my awesome Legendale Hotel food experience, click here for Macao and click here for Petrus
Elegant lunch at Petrus, second floor