Dining experience fit for a king
Updated: 2013-09-14 07:47
By Ye Jun (China Daily)
A decent meal in a beautiful imperial style house is what you can look forward to at Mei Wei Zhen, or The Royal Restaurant.
The restaurant has been operating for nearly 20 years. It has made its reputation by specializing in the "complete Manchu and Han banquet", or the royal cuisine of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
One dish representing imperial luxury is fotiaoqiang, "Buddha jumps over the wall" soup, a seafood soup with 21 ingredients that is simmered for several hours. The restaurant has more than 10 versions of this famous soup, with the various versions ranging in cost from 128 yuan ($21) to more than 2,000 yuan a pot, depending on the value of ingredients used.
The more expensive version contains abalone, sea cucumber, scallops and is flavored with chicken, pork and duck and also features mushroom and bamboo shoot. The cheaper soup has mushroom, ham, and bamboo fungus. The soup is cooked at a simmer for 70 hours - no wonder it is considered a specialty fit for kings.
Mei Wei Zhen features more than 10 versions of fotiaoqiang soup. Provided to China Daily
But not all the dishes are so up-market. With the recent push to curb waste and excess, the restaurant is making itself more affordable. According to founder Ni Xiaobei, a guest can enjoy a decent lunch for around 100 yuan, and dinner from 200-300 yuan per head, without the fotiaoqiang soup.
Other highlights of the meal included braised veal tendon, dry-fried pork meatball and a puff pastry in the shape of a lotus seed.
The restaurant presents even simple dishes very nicely. All the cold dishes and Beijing dim sum are cut neatly into bite-size pieces and are presented in attractive packages. Sweet pineapple rice is decorated in the shape of a phoenix. Surprisingly the seabass is cooked with skin on, deep-fried to be very crispy and delectable.
The eatery is considerate enough to offer two non-alcoholic wines, a white and a red, imported from Australia. Its Peking roast duck is as good as any good specialized Peking duck restaurant in the capital.
It has come up with a unique combination in matching ingredients for the roast duck slices to wrap in a pancake - basil with sweet melon slices, dipped in strawberry sauce.
The restaurant uses plates and cups with symbols and patterns that belonged to the Qing Dynasty imperial family. Waitresses wear gowns in the style of Qing princesses. Furniture and decoration are both traditional Chinese style.
Located in The China World Trade Center shopping area, the restaurant provides a Cantonese style morning tea, combining Cantonese dim sum with Beijing style xiaochi, small eats. Beijing small eats are of excellent quality here, and the Cantonese dim sum is prepared by a chef from Hong Kong. With its pleasant environment, the restaurant offers an afternoon tea at 60-70 yuan per head, a good option for a business meeting or short break from work.
It can be a good spot to impress visitors from outside Beijing, or simply for a first encounter with good quality Chinese food.