Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Two Dinners in Beijing

Beijing has great food. I haven't had a bad meal here! Two nights ago we had dinner at a place called LAN Club, a fairly new restaurant design by Philippe Starck. The atmosphere can only be described as upscale tongue-in-check whimsical. A huge print of a Dutch old master (I think Dutch) has been cut into pieces, put into large , oversized gilted frames and hung on the ceiling over the grey, industrial vents and ducts. The light fixtures are various and asundry mismatched Venetian glass.

The food was good but not great. This is the kind of place to go to watch people and to be seen and maybe to drink a cocktail or three. Nevertheless we ate dinner there. We had some good dumplings and some spicy shrimp marinated in tea. The big mistake was to order a cold dish of wasabi spinach. I love both, but I didn't quite bargain for the mountains of wasabi the chef must've put in this dish. It was hot enough to make my eyebrows stand up straight. It was hot enough to clear out every last nook or cranny of sinus. I could feel it right up my ear, through the Eustatian tube and into my brains! Two bites and I was done. A shame really. It tasted good.

Last night we went to a Japanese restaurant called Hatsune that has a reputation for being the best in town. We had delicious sashimi, sushi rolls, tempura, grilled beef, and chicken. The beer was excellent and so was the sake.

I have enjoyed my stay in Beijing. Work has gone great. I got some sightseeing in last weekend. And the food is truly outstanding.

The pollution and traffic are horrific and unpleasant. Today the sky is blue, one day out of the six I've been here. The wind must've blown out the pollution last night. Years ago expats visiting Beijing remarked on the beauty of the blue skies. I can only imagine. The city is surrounded by mountains, and today we can see them. Many of the hills have beautiful old towers on them.

Clear air is a basic human right. So is clean water. Speaking of human rights, tomorrow I am off to Tibet for a week of vacation. That should be interesting!

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