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Once upon a starry night

Updated: 2015-08-01 08:18
By Dong Fangyu (China Daily)

Once upon a starry night

Hot and sour soup with seafood.

Fine balance

The hot and sour soup with seafood lingers in the memory. It was quite unlike the kind I have had in Beijing, which are often slick and thick with cornstarch, and which are either pungent with chilies or acidity. The flavor of this one was not so much very distinct as finely balanced. It was mildly spicy, with a fresh splash of black vinegar added when it was served to give it extra zest. It was rich and thick, and not gloppy at all. The tender meat mixture of seafood, including scallops and shrimps, in the soup had a bright look, and with the broth had a profound taste.

A thumbs up, too, to a dish called poached chicken with chicken essence. The tender meat had succulent skin, and the texture resembled that of the classic Sichuan cold dish called koushuiji, (mouth-watering chicken). But this one is warm, and with no chilies. The meat looked moist and was tasty and aromatic, requiring little help from the sauces and seasoning served with it.

Sauteed king prawns with hawthorn herbs in chili sauce whetted our appetites. The prawns were as bouncy as they come, and the sour-and-sweet hawthorn juice added to the chili sauce made for an unusual flavor blend.