Chef Hao Wenjie at Jasmine has a round baby's face, a rock'n'roll singer's long hair, and a bright friendly smile. In his 30s, the chef has been the mastermind behind quite a few creative new dishes at the restaurant recently.
Shandong's four-flavor seafood platter is a cold starter with four kinds of marinated seafood: sea snail, squid, jellyfish, and sea intestine. The dish served nicely in clay pots offer pleasantly different taste sensations: meaty sea snail, crunchy jellyfish, crisp sea intestine, and elastic-tasting squid. Another appetizing starter is the purple aubergines seasoned with Italian sauce.
Boiled spring chicken is flavored with fresh Chinese pepper to add a nice fragrance, and green tea is used to make it less greasy. Jasmine tea is used to smoke mountain pork, which is served on a stone slab and accompanied with crunchy deep-fried flour crackers.
For the main course the restaurant's codfish meatball with mushroom sauce was one of the best I've tried. Chef Hao's secret was to put diced sea snail meat in the loose fish ball to enhance freshness and crunchy, diced water chestnut for texture. Fried pork neck with matsutake and braised beef with garlic were both full of meaty flavor.
You can refresh your palate with a clear spring soup with asparagus and bamboo fungus, served in a rare bowl of volcano stone and if you have the appetite, try the restaurant's beautiful, colorful dessert platter featuring various popular cakes and mousses.
Average cost is over 150 yuan ($22) per person. Jasmine has a nice outdoor space facing a lake. Inside dcor is chic but relaxed. An area next to the wine cellar has a super high roof and is good for holding a party or special event. Service has been up to standards.
Daily 10:30 am-2 pm, 6-10:30 pm. Opposite No 10 platform, inside East Gate of Workers' Stadium, Chaoyang district. Tel: 6553-8608
Chinese people are familiar with red and white wines, but possibly many of them will be confused when they meet "rose wines".
However, according to the Interprofessionnal Council of Vins de Provence (Provence Wine Producing Interprofessional Council, CIVP), which was founded in 2004, it is bringing its special rose wines to Beijing and Shanghai. Chinese people will discover a new taste in them.
Rose wines are also referred to as Blush wines. They are not truly red, but have a small reddish color to make them not completely white. The colors vary according to the grapes in the wines, and sometimes you will see they have orange, pink, or even purple colors. That is why many women love them.
When mentioning French red wines, many people will immediately think of Bordeaux, French white wines, Sancerre, but rose wines are more romantic, they are born in Provence. The wine-producing area covers Les Bouches-du-Rhone, Le Var, and Les Alpes-Maritimes, where the dry weather and long daytime create a perfect environment for the grapes.
The major grape of the region's rose wines is Tibouren, which imparts a dry taste. Tibouren wines usually contain less alcohol and more fruit flavors. Famous wine taster Roy Moorfield says they go well with salads, and many Asian dishes.
In many Chinese restaurants in Paris, rose wines are the most popular alcohol after Tsingdao Beers.
Now, CIVP's rose wines are coming to China and they can be purchased online or in major supermarkets in Beijing and Shanghai. Prices vary from several hundreds to more than one thousand yuan per bottle.
Renowned Peking duck restaurant Quanjude, established in 1864, now fuses its Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) classics with modern cuisine. Quanjude's roast duck preparation is famous for using open ovens and non-smoky hardwood fuel such as dates, peaches, or pears to add a subtle fruity flavor and golden crispiness to the skin.
However, to keep up with the fiercely growing competition in the private sector, including restaurant rival Da Dong, chief chef Yuan Fenggui has created a range of new dishes to supplement the classic method of eating duck .
Deviating from the typically oven-glazed duck, dainty slices of duck liver, arctic clam and claws are now served light and chilled, perfect for the hot months. The arctic clam was most savory, thinly sliced, sashimi style, then marinated with soy sauce. Another interesting fusion was the duck liver with a foie gras texture, sandwiched between two pieces of red wine jelly.
The restaurant also boasts a series of non-duck related dishes such as the vegetables dipped in sesame sauce, fresh marinated Abalone and birds nest soup - a clear broth served with spinach and fungus. One of the surprising dishes was the sea cucumber. Sea cucumber is rarely cooked in this fashion - lightly grazed with oil and then fried with breadcrumbs on the exterior - creating an interesting combination of crispy, golden crumbs and the soft texture of the sea cucumber. The sea cucumber, without sauce, was a little bland, however, this unique combination is definitely worth trying.
The prices are reasonable for a meal out, ranging from 50 to 100 yuan. Expect to pay a little more though, if you still want a bite out of the traditional Peking duck.
Daily 11 am-1:30 pm, 5-9 pm. No 8 Guangqumen Waidajie, Chaoyang district, southwest corner of Shuangjingqiao on East Third Ring Road. Tel: 5861-2288