The Royal Restaurant (美味珍御膳西海会所) proffers an imperial dinner for the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) emperors in a beautiful two-floor villa on Shichahai Lake's west bank.
In private rooms featuring traditional Chinese furniture and antiques, a server clad in a Qing Dynasty minister's robe deciphers for diners the mysteries of ancient Chinese imperial cuisine, narrating the stories behind the dishes.
This winter, the restaurant offers a special hotpot and grilled dinner (满汉涮烤宴), based on written records of a grand feast to which Emperor Qianlong treated 1,000 officials in 1785. The imperial chefs used these two cooking methods to keep catering for such a large crowd simple and scrumptious.
Waitresses costumed as Qing Dynasty princesses serve organic fruits and vegetables, and beautifully presented cold meats as appetizers.
The main course for winter is a special hotpot with Buddha jumps over the wall soup as the base broth.
The soup is said to derive its nutritious qualities from a fusion of secret imperial recipes and herbs. Main ingredients include lobster, venison tendon, prawn and abalone, in addition to the humbler meats of beef and mutton.
Grilled offerings include beef steak and a remarkably tender pine pheasant (松鸡). Vegetables and mushrooms are also available.
The cost ranges from 128 yuan to 888 yuan per person. The restaurant and club also provides tea ceremonies.
The eatery has a lovely balcony on the second floor overlooking a courtyard with bamboo groves. The courtyard offers a great place to party in good weather. The third floor comprises two platforms and a glass room with tea tables and air-conditioning. It is the perfect perch overlooking the Shichahai Lake from which to dine on a fine Chinese lunch and spend a lazy afternoon sipping tea.
10am-10pm. Reservation required. Near Xinjiekou Beidajie, 48 Xihai Nanyan, Xicheng district. 8328-4099. 美味珍西海会所, 西城区西海南沿48号