Yan Ming Yuan's signature dishes include shrimp with Dragon Well tea (above) and a bowl of freshly sauteed peas (below). Photos by Jiang Dong / China Daily
Chefs, too, need to do their homework to keep up to date. And as Ye Jun reports, some even go on excursions to learn more about ingredients and food trends in regional cuisine.
Yan Ming Yuan is just outside the east gate of the venerable Tsinghua University in Beijing, and it, too, has a culture of learning among its staff. Just recently, the restaurant planned an educational trip to Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces for its chefs and service staff.
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Long Feng, general manager of Yan Ming Yuan, says the restaurant organizes such tours every year, and this year the rewards of the trip were plenty, with the chefs putting their new-found knowledge of local ingredients and flavors into the restaurant's menu.
The new seasonal menu is named "A Bite of Zhejiang", a reference to the cult food documentary, A Bite of China, which so recently stirred up renewed interest in regional cuisines.
Yan Ming Yuan has a map of Zhejiang province on its promotional brochure with pictures of signature dishes pointing to each major gourmet region.
Hangzhou, the capital, has shrimp with Dragon Well tea, and braised pork with dried bamboo shoots. Jinhua, a city in central Zhejiang, has braised sweet potato with cheese and chicken with rice wine. Ningbo is represented by a steamed salted yellow croaker with salt pork and green soy beans. Shaoxing is known for red-cooked pork with preserved vegetable.
The gourmet map will certainly tempt diners, who already have a wide variety of choices from the restaurant's thick menu. The proof of the eatery's popularity can be seen at lunch or dinner - there are seldom spare tables to be had without prior reservations.
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