The way to a lover's heart...

By Grace Su (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-02-05 10:42
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The way to a lover's heart...
Valentine's Day buffet at Scene a Cafe. Courtesy of Scene

Back home in the United States, a lot of couples actually stay home on Valentine's Day - this is because traffic is bad and a lot of the good restaurants are so incredibly busy that the quality and service falls behind. A lot of couples opt to have a nice dinner a day earlier or later than the actual date.

Along with the bad traffic, Valentine's Day in Beijing has quickly become like that of any other developed city - hard to book reservations at popular restaurants.

Luckily, some restaurants in Beijing have extended the days that they do their Valentine's dinners while others have opened up their buffets for large groups.

While companies and media may tend to capitalize on the holiday as way to make people feel they "need" to spend money to celebrate the day, there are plenty of original things that one can do without being too clich or spending too much money.

One may accomplish more "oomph" by thinking outside of the box. What does he or she really like besides the usual chocolate, candy and a nice dinner out?

You could make your own dessert for your Valentine, and/or write a card saying how much you really appreciate them. Maybe you can give her (or him) a "ring" of a chocolate donut (85 Degrees Bakery in Chongwenmen New World has some excellent tasting ones for only 4 yuan), or bake a batch of your special homemade cookies.

Of course, there's no shame in a nice sit-down dinner. Most restaurants in the Beijing are featuring dinners for two at a set price this Valentine's Day.

French restaurant Domus will run their Valentine's dinner for an extended period, from Feb 5 through Feb 14, since the 14th also coincides with Chinese New Year's Day.

The Domus Valentines set menu (999 yuan per couple) includes two glasses of rose champagne to start the evening off in the Domus Lounge. Drinks are followed by a six-course meal of home cooked French classics.

The poached foie gras easily melts in the mouth. It is creamy and good to the last bite. With hints of red wine and milk, it comes with toast and a sweet and tart prune puree.

The traditional French onion soup is a tad too thick however but concentrated in a sweet onion and Parmesan taste.

The Wagyu flat iron steak (or choice of pan-roasted salmon with fennel confit) is cooked to a perfect medium-rare and comes with golden hand-cut fries.

Finally, the Golden Love dessert is a dark chocolate brownie topped with a raspberry sorbet. Although big on taste, it can also be considered "guiltless", because the pastry chef uses a less sugary dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. However, there is a taste of jasmine in the chocolate that not everyone will be used to.

If that's the case, you can ask them to swap the Golden Love with something off the a la carte from the menu free of charge.

True to its name, "domus" describes an elegant home in ancient Rome.

Back then, the homes in ancient Rome were usually one-story high and facing away from the street so as to protect the family from intruders.

Modern-day Domus is also one-story and set in a quiet street next to the Forbidden City. With soft lighting and beautiful Italian furniture from Minotti and Maxalto, this place sets the mood for a comfortable, cosy, and romantic evening for two. (Dates: Feb 5 to Feb 14, 999 yuan per couple, 8511-8015, 115 Nanchizi Road).

Of course, not all Valentine's dinners have to be French. Caf Marco (Marco Polo Parkside) offers a Valentine's buffet dinner at 199 yuan (+15 percent includes free flow soft drinks).

The restaurant also offers a more exclusive set menu of lobster salad, grilled Australian beef, Hagen-Dazs ice cream, and a bottle of French wine for 999 yuan net per couple.