Day 6 continue From Tian An Men, our next stop was Beihai Park where Dave was interested in seeing the park, while I was interested in eating at its Fangshan Restaurant since it's already lunch time. The restaurant is located in the middle of the park, near the lake, about 5 - 10 minutes walk from the park's south entrance.
1. Fangshan Restaurant.
2. The sign says: "The restaurant originates from the royal kitchen where food and dish was cooked only to cater to the royal family. ...... Today Fangshan developed some 800 new dishes from the royal recipes."
3. Menu. This was the meal package we ordered. It's 258 RMB/person, drink was charged separately. We had tea, I think it's 20 RMB/person, highly recommend. You will see why in the next picture.
4. Adding (boiling) water. It was amazing how accurately she got the job done. Not even a drop got on the table. I asked the girl how long it took her to learn this skill. She said she took a month training before working on her own. She has been doing this for three years. She said occasionally she still miss. By miss, I guessed she meant a drop of water would get on the table, not burning her customers. :)
5. Qing Dynasty style dishes.
6. Left - Mashed pea cake and rolls of kidney bean flour (豌豆黃芸豆卷). Right - Appetizing cold plate (開胃冷盤).
7. Top - Camel hump meat with black pepper (黑椒駝峰肉). Bottom left - Pipa-shaped (a Chinese string instrument) fried prawns (琵琶大蝦). Bottom right - Braised abalone slices (紅燒鮑片).
As the menu indicates (at the bottom of the page, in Chinese only), this meal package is appropriate for three people and above, if two people or less, they may reduce the variety. The waitress asked me to remove a hot entree earlier, she suggested removing the camel dish, saying foreigners normally don't like it. Thinking how often do we get to eat camel hump, I kept that dish, but removed the cashew chicken instead. Honestly I didn't like the camel dish, it tasted a little gamey and chewy. I don't know if it is because of the meat or the spices they used to cook it. Dave thought it was an interesting dish, and didn't regret at all that he might just miss the best cashew chicken in the world. :)
8. Top left - Small assorted cakes (宮廷點心). Top right: Sweet and sour mandarin fish (菊花桂魚). Bottom left - Braised sea cucumber with scallion (蔥燒海參). Bottom right: Vegetables (時蔬合炒).
Overall, the meal was good, nothing outstanding, but worth to try it once.
While we were eating there, I noticed the two guys sitting to the left of our table. They hardly touched their food, they seemed to be more interested in taking pictures, posing with a cigar in their hand and a table full of food than actually eating it. From their chatting with the waitress, I gathered that they flew in from Harbin (a city north-east of Beijing) that morning, came to Beijing to see the Great Wall, to eat at Quanjude and Fangshan Restaurants, and to do some shopping. Then they would take the night flight back (~2 hours one-way). It's unimaginable that ordinary people could afford to do this just ten years ago. I only wish they respected other people's efforts a little more, like eating some of the food they ordered.
9. There was a reproduction of the dragon chair (the chair emperors sit) in the restaurant. You can take pictures of it, but you can't sit on it.
10. I don't think it is comfortable to sit on it anyway. Hardly any padding in the bottom, and too hard on the back. :)
11. After lunch, Dave got to see the park. Beihai is famous for the white pagoda, which was erected in 1651.
12. The white pagoda.
14. It was mid-November, the park still offered boat tour on the lake.
That's it for the Beijing leg of the trip. We were taking the Z49 train that night to go to Nanjing. I couldn't wait to see my aunt, uncle, cousins, and eat some of the most delicious food in the world: Nanjing Salted Duck and Nanjing Shao Ya.