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Food reviews; A swell-tasting meal

By Ye Jun | China Daily | Updated: 2010-05-22 10:10

A swell-tasting meal

Food reviews; A swell-tasting meal

It is rare for Beijing restaurants to offer swellfish because of its poisonous nature. Even so, swellfish still takes the number one place among gourmets as the tastiest fish in the world. Down the ranking list are saury, in second place, and reeves shad in third.

Therefore, it was with a bit of fear, but also a little excitement, that I bit into a piece of swellfish sashimi, for the second time in my life, at Lao Lao Fu Hotpot Restaurant, which just opened in the Asian Games Village. It was slippery and a bit chewy, a bit like fruit jelly. But, honestly, I didn't find the stunning sensation I had kind of expected. Maybe it was because we spent 20 minutes taking photos. Or maybe it's because it was farmed rather than wild.

Besides sashimi-style, swellfish can also be served in a hot pot or stewed. The swellfish is from fishing farms in Panjin, Liaoning province, also famous for its crabs.

Apart from the swellfish, the eatery serves an aromatic grilled giant oyster, at 10 cm to 20 cm. They serve very fresh and tender red clams, which can both be eaten as sashimi, and cooked in the hot pot. There is also baby geoduck, with a meaty flesh that can become chewy if boiled for too long.

Assorted fish balls, shrimp balls and squid balls are served beautifully on a plate paved with some vegetable slices. There are different beef cuts, and various vegetables and mushrooms on the menu.

The restaurant is decorated in a tidy, fashionable style with light colors. The first floor has spacious public areas, and the second floor has elegantly decorated private rooms.

Average cost is around 160 yuan ($23.4) per person, excluding drinks.

A spot steeped in culture

Food reviews; A swell-tasting meal

Lu Yu Xuan (House of Dew and Rain) Teahouse is bound to wow visitors with its beautiful collection of Buddha figurines and traditional Chinese furniture. Even the cashier's counter is adapted from an antique bed dating back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

It is worth touring the first and second floors first before settling down for tea, because it feels like being in a museum. The first floor has a shrine with three beautiful huge Buddhas made from colored porcelain. There is also a display of Buddhas carved out of nanmu wood, besides 18 arhats, which are all rare cultural relics.

The second floor has private rooms and divided areas with tables overlooking the Buddha shrine on the first floor. One of the rooms even has furniture from Louis XIII's time, according to a manager. There are also rooms in old Shanghai style, as well as compact and private spaces with beautiful lamps and furniture.

Teas come at 158 yuan ($23.1), 188 yuan and 218 yuan per person. The buffet has up to 100 dim sum offerings, nuts and fruits.

The teahouse offers a good view of Shuangxiu Park next door. You might not get the best tea for 200 yuan, but considering the free flow of dim sum buffet, it is worth the money.

Vegetarian meals come at 299 yuan per person, and vegetarian banquets from 399 yuan to 999 yuan per person, which includes the use of private rooms on the second floor. The vegetarian meals include some rare ingredients and mushrooms from around the country.

Feeling ducky in Wangjing

Food reviews; A swell-tasting meal

Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant's Wangjing branch opened last month. The opening ceremony was scaled down so 20,000 yuan ($3,000) could be donated to the quake region in Qinghai's Yushu. The restaurant's Wangjing branch is decorated with traditional paper-cuts that tell the story of the brand.

Food reviews; A swell-tasting meal

It can seat 300 people, with 15 elegantly decorated private rooms. Its executive chef, having worked for more than 10 years in Quanjude's Los Angeles and Oman branches, is well versed in both Chinese and Western culinary habits.

Apart from Peking roast duck, the eatery offers classical duck dishes. Average cost is 150 yuan per person.

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