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Feast on love

Updated: 2014-08-01 07:10
By Ye Jun (China Daily)

Qixi Festival, Chinese Valentine's Day, falls on Aug 2 this year, and as Ye Jun reports, many of the capital's top restaurants are offering fantastic deals for couples wanting a special night out.

Restaurants in Beijing are using Qixi Festival, Chinese Valentine's Day, as an opportunity to promote set menus for couples wanting to celebrate the festival with a meal. Steakhouse Flamme has introduced a special Qixi menu at both its Sanlitun and Indigo branches. "There has been a lot more business on the day in Sanlitun," says Lei Yiyang, the restaurant's marketing manager. Last year, Qixi Festival witnessed Sanlitun's restaurants fill up and the streets become noisy, just like they do on Feb 14, Western Valentine's Day, Lei says.

Qixi originates from a Chinese fairy tale. It is a love story between a goddess and a cowherd. They are said to only be able to meet each other on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, which this year falls on Aug 2.

 Feast on love

Tempura with tuna is one of the offerings on the special menu designed for Chinese Valentine's Day by Jaan restaurant at the Raffles Beijing Hotel. Photos Provided to China Daily

"The occasion gives Chinese people an excuse to spend some happy time with their lovers," Lei says.

The special menu at Flamme features two main dishes - one is the restaurant's specialty steak, the other is a golden crab.

Last year, the restaurant prepared more than 100 set meals at its two branches, all of which sold out. This year, it has prepared 350 chocolate sticks coated with peanut crumbs as a special gift for diners who order a set meal.

"We expect better business this year," says Lei.

French restaurants in the capital are always popular with those who want to impress on a date. Some of them have also prepared for the occasion. Jaan at the Raffles Beijing Hotel, one of the city's best French restaurants, is offering a French seafood feast for diners.

Executive chef Riaan Burger has designed a set menu offering French oyster, slow-braised abalone with ginseng, tuna and a dessert of raspberry with lychee and white chocolate.

"I have based the menu on aphrodisiac ingredients or elements that naturally stimulate endorphins," says the chef from South Africa.

Ginseng, a traditional Chinese herbal ingredient, is believed to vitalize people. The dessert has lychee, a typical Chinese fruit. The chef uses the lychee to balance the flavors of the raspberry and rose. It is used in two ways - fresh and to flavor cream.

Feast on love

Burger says Jaan restaurant has previously prepared a special menu for Qixi and it will continue to do so.

"It has proved very successful from past experience," he says. "The menu is designed to cater to local clientele and their known preferences. But from experience we have learned many expatriates also attend this event."

Matrix at Crowne Plaza Beijing Lido offers an international buffet on Qixi, with some special highlights.

The restaurant will have extra items on its buffet selection on the evening of Qixi, such as Canadian lobster, Alaskan king crab, French oyster and whole-poached salmon, according to Daniel Brooker, the hotel's executive chef from New Zealand.

Matrix has many live cooking stations, where chefs can interact with customers - barbecue, teppanyaki, risotto, sashimi and a whole fruit cutting station. All the vegetables used are organic. The restaurant makes its own cold cuts.

Moreover, the restaurant will serve some of its latest desserts, according to the chef. Brooker recommends a confection of coconut, mango and lychee, light and delicate, each layer has a different, unique taste. A pistachio strawberry creation is gluten-free, healthy and delicious.

For a five-star hotel, the buffet is reasonably priced at 527 yuan ($85) for two people. All couples taking advantage of the buffet on Aug 2 will receive a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine or red wine. For an additional 527 yuan, the couple can get a night's stay in the hotel's "superior room" and enjoy breakfast for two the next morning. Normally, the breakfast alone costs 180 yuan plus 15 percent surcharge per head.

Contact the writer at yejun@chinadaily.com.cn

 Feast on love

Seafood is also highly recommended in Flamme restaurant, in addition to its signature steak.

(China Daily 08/01/2014 page22)