After a lazy day yesterday it was time to smash the gym again today and burn off the few beers last night. The gyms in Beijing are quite expensive so make sure that you pick a hotel with a good gym and weigh up the pricing – a visit to one of the better hotel gyms will set you back $50 AUD for a visit. In saying that, they are well equipped, the spa facilities are great and they supply endless bottled water which is a nice little touch. $50 AUD though can get you a lot in this city!
For lunch it was back to Obentos – reliably good food and great service. What I really liked about this visit was that we arrived and all the FOH staff apart from Andy (owner) were sitting down in their English class. Hospitality in mainland China is a tough business. Although it appears that the labour is cheap, its not all that accessible nor is it reliable. On top of this, the staff that you employ must be housed, insured and fed – all at a cost to the employer. It’s tough and it really does make you realise the level and professionlism we have created here for hospitality and more so how many staff in our industry are taking it for granted. Thought for the day.
We had no plans this afternoon and Andy had mentioned he was going south to the Hospitality Markets to purchase some stuff for Obentos – so we joined him.
Expecting something similar to the wet markets, I was really surprised to see a block sized warehouse – think Bunnings, but bigger and think Chefs Hat inside – Amazing!!!
I am like a kid in these kind of places and I was a little upset I was in China as I was limited with what I could take home. It was so ridiculously cheap…
There wasn’t a lot of food to write about today so I made a quick stop at the Hotel G restaurant – Scarlett, to rally up some material. Scarlett is in interesting place, it’s busy with hotel guests and people from surrounding businesses and it seems to do ok. My main issues was that they apparently specialise in cold cut meats and cheese, both of which sit out on the bench for your viewing pleasure. Not so much pleasure though as this food is long past what I would consider appealing. I opt for a wine instead and am drawn to the wines by the glass blackboard above the bar which has plenty of names I haven’t seen before. I chose the Helen Riesling, apparently from Northern China (I wasn’t exactly aware they did wine)!! When I saw the bottle and that it was 2006, I was concerned, even more so when I saw the colour. It was a fresh bottle and it was far from riesling – whatever it was, it was gone. I later find out that the Chinese aren’t exactly good and bottling the right wine nor putting the right vintage on the bottle – apparently its more of a lucky tip. Oh dear.
Thank god it was time for dinner and tonight was an expat gathering at Karaiya Spice House in Sanlitun (restaurant central). Owner Alan Wong, responsible also for the popular restaurant Hatsune in the same complex has been very successful in the Beijing restaurant scene – and its clear to see why. The cuisine here is Hunanese and the theme for the dishes is HOT!
I LOVE a large round table, especially one with a lazy susan, its just so easy, so friendly and so sociable and that to me is the reason why we should go out for dinner – to be fun and catch up with friends!
Whilst most of us were busy talking – someone thankfully ordered for us and food just starting arriving. Awesome. The foot was so brilliantly presented, it was colourful, smelt incredible and our eyes were burning from the chilli on the dishes.. in a good way.
We had beautifully soft, flavoursome and flaky turbot which was butterflied on the plate, mounded with fresh herbs and finely cut carrots and capsicum – very similar to Yun Er in the village.
We had some perfectly tender and seasoned eye fillet which came up rare on the hot plate and melted in the mouth. The most impressive dish though came out in a small sliver wok on flaming stones – what appeared to be coarsely chopped chicken with thick cuts of greens and whole chillies. The meat was a little more opaque than chicken and also a little more stringy off the bone, however it was so incredibly juicy and tasty I assumed it was all cooking style.
When a few others on the table made the same comments, it was confessed that the dish was their signature bull frog dish.
Wow. Honestly, I probably never would have ordered it, especially in China, however I am very glad I had it.
Dinner is done and we all kick on to Migos, a roof top bar close by that looks over the city, it’s spectacular. The entire space is open air and the fit out is similar to what you would expect by the pool in Bali – deep wooden seating, over-sized comfy lounge chairs and little huts for the VIP’s in the opposite corner to where the DJ was working the crowd. Very cool.
A few beers and a few G&T’s and I think I just fell in love with this city!
Score / 10
Drunk – 6
Gourmet – 6