The China Club in Beijing is a bit of a legend. Being a private members club, it counts among the most exclusive hotels and restaurants in the capital. Having only 8 beautiful, individually styled rooms means that it is a really individualistic hotel, with a lot of personality and charm. What is also great about it, is that unlike many other luxurious hotels and restaurants in Beijing, it is hardly visible for the passers-by, seeing that it is composed of a number of traditional courtyards.
Take for instance the bar, which must be one of the most beautiful in China. The style is timeless, and beautifully allies old and new elements. It simply makes you want to stay there, talk, read, think do anything one likes. Sitting down here is about as great a place as one can imagine for a pre-dinner drink.
However, the food is the real showstopper, as it is fantastic. Having gone through the wine list, which was expensive and not very interesting, we stuck to tea and very good juices. To start the meal, a few pieces of sliced lotus root were dressed with a sweet/sour sauce. Light, tasty and of intriguing texture, this was a most enjoyable start to the meal.
Also served were some deep-fried, smoked eels. Delicately crispy, perfectly seasoned, these pieces of eel were fantastic.
A first warm course was even more interesting. A rice cracker was topped with scallops and a sweet and sour sauce. What was interesting here was the play on textures and flavours. The rice gave the crunch, with the scallops adding something of a delicate and tender element. The flavours were very good and highly interesting, with only one point to criticise: The scallops could have been of slightly higher quality. Very good.
Following this pork kidneys were ordered. Fried with cashew nuts and an intensely flavoursome sauce, this was a real masterpiece. The kidney was perfectly cooked, and of such delightful flavour and texture that it was hard to keep one’s hands off the dish! A real treat, that showed how hearty, yet complex Chinese cooking can be. Excellent.
The masterpiece however, was the Mandarin fish. Beautifully presented, the entire fish was brought to the table, covered in a pinenut sauce. Again, a slightly sweeter dish, it was quite remarkable. Of very high quality, it was cooked perfectly, whilst having an incredibly crunchy outside. I was baffled by how tasty this was, a real treat, that I haven’t experienced in such a perfect way before. Excellent.
To finish the meal, we ordered some warm mochi, which were good, but hardly on the same level as the previous courses. Some noted that they were probably not freshly made, however that is something I can not comment on. Still, it was a good, light end to what was a fantastic meal. Good.
Another great restaurant in China. Whilst the food overall was maybe not quite as phenomenal as at Da Dong, it was splendid nonetheless. Especially the kidney and mandarin fish were real eye-openers, which I will warmly remember. This is another very serious restaurant, that delivers on all levels, from the stunning room, to good service and of course, the great food. Oh, I wish I wouldn’t live 10.000km away from Beijing…