Monday, May 25, 2009

Beijing's Wahaha Delights

MN and I partook in an over-the-top opulent dinner with the China edit team in one of Wahaha restaurant's uber-plush private dining suites—think massive tapestries, velvet chairs and walls, and ceilings dripping with chandeliers—while in Beijing. Following are some of the parade of Hangzhou-style dishes that came out with calculated precision over the course of two or more hours.

Crispified duck ... with head included, just in case you felt like gnawing on it, which some are wont to do ...

Lightly breaded and fried cubes of the most buttery foie gras tossed with mushrooms, sesame-encrusted cashews and an assortment of fresh veg ... OK, so this is not your traditional Chinese cuisine, but it was a very welcome and refreshing injection of Western flavors and textures.

A mighty purty and tasty architectural foray into turnips with a kind of plum sauce.

Baby cucumbers these were ... their piquancy was a welcome contrast to the savory dishes flanking it.

Duck liver ... MN had no love for it. I gave it a go, but can't say I was a fan either ... it didn't have much of a flavor, and had an odd crunch to it.

One of my fave dishes: delicate noodles made of tofu sitting in a pool of the most fragrant chicken and shrimp broth and accompanied by crisp-fresh baby bok choy. I could eat this dish every week. Heck, maybe every day even.

A Hangzhou specialty: super moist and tender tiger-striped fish, smothered with tons of julienned ginger. It was a tad too fishy for my taste, but I could appreciate the love that had gone into its preparation.

Another top contender: the fab fork-tender pork belly ... heart and belly-warming.... perfectly seasoned in a soy sauce marinade, the fat pretty much melted on your tongue.

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