Friday, July 31, 2009

Gastronomical success

Even after seven weeks, dining in Beijing still feels like a novel and somewhat bewildering experience. That said, I’m writing to report on three recent triumphs.

Last week, I met up with Wen Yu for a late-night meal in Sanlitun. We headed to Bellagio, a Taiwanese restaurant near the Workers’ Stadium famous for its late hours and epic desserts. The food was delicious, but I was paying much more attention to Wen Yu’s fascinating stories from his trip to Pyongyang(!) last week. (For you Yalies, he should be giving a talk or speaking at a Master’s Tea sometime this fall.)

This weekend, I visited Shiv and Allison at the Harvard Beijing Academy campus in Wudakou. As we began walking in the direction of Ganges, an award-winning Indian restaurant, but after a few minutes calculated that it wasn’t nearby and decided to take a taxi instead. (The restaurant was actually very close, resulting in what I believe was the shortest cab ride of my life thus far.) The dishes were hearty and authentic, complemented by our refreshing mango lassis.

Calling Quanjude a roast duck restaurant is like saying Beijing is polluted (refer to previous post). Quanjude (全聚德) is the Peking duck restaurant of China, a veritable temple of quack. The chefs bring whole roast ducks to your table and present certificates, which, in addition to reminding you that “Quanjude was established in 1864 (the third year of Tongzhi, Qing Dynasty),” presents the numbers of your ducks. The one below indicates that I had 499,152nd duck they served since 1864. If I were Chinese and a duck, I would definitely aspire to end my existence on a plate in Quanjude.