Which is the best place to have authentic Chinese? China of course! Take a step into the luxurious restaurant Summer Palace, located in China World Hotel, and immerse yourself in the tastefully done interiors and their famed seafood delicacies
By: Anil Mathur
Posted on: May 10, 2011
Which is the best place to have authentic Chinese cuisine? China of course! Take a step into the luxurious restaurant Summer Palace, located in China World Hotel, and immerse yourself in the tastefully done interiors and their famed seafood delicacies.
China World Hotel (CWH), a Shangri-La hotel at the prestigious China World Trade Centre in Beijing, has 716 rooms and suites offering a panoramic view of one of the fastest growing cities in the world. It is one of the finest hotels of the country, as I discovered during a recent and my first visit to Beijing.
But it was not just the excellent convention facilities that had me awed at CWH. What has clearly contributed to establishing a name for the hotel are its restaurants and bars, which includes the famed Summer Palace, which, appropriately, serves Chinese cuisine. It attracts guests not only from within the hotel, but also from the corporate and diplomatic world, as a proud Assistant Director of Food and Beverage Bati Du told me. He explained the salient features of this plush and tastefully done-up restaurant, which has some 200 covers, including six private dinning rooms.
Summer Palace, located at Level 2, was renovated in 2008, although the restaurant is as old as the CWH. It had originally opened its doors to welcome guests in the 1960s. Du explained that as per all Shangri-La hotels, the CWH also serves Cantonese cuisine. Fresh sea food is clearly a USP of Summer Palace. Although, as a vegetarian, I could not sample it, but the appreciative, satisfied guests, as also Du with over a decade experience, vouched for its quality. But the vegetarian items that the Food and Beverage assistant director churned out for me dispelled the notion that Chinese food ignores the ‘no-meat, no-fish’ eaters like me.
Enter the new Summer Palace and be welcomed by Chinese objets d’art especially commissioned for Summer Palace: beautifully handmade Chinese tapestries adorning golden-hued walls and in the restaurant’s foyer area, a striking, handcarved wooden depiction of a Chinese dragon, traditionally considered a potent symbol of auspicious power in Chinese folklore.
Tea roasting ceremony, right at the entrance of the Summer Palace, sets the ball rolling for the tasty things to come and adds to the ambience and appearance of the place - clearly a necessity for a restaurant which claims to be patronized by both the locals and international visitors alike.
Table reservation for lunch or dinner is recommended, which is not surprising considering the name Summer Palace has acquired over the years. As Du tells me, stirred fried shrimps, called Huai –Yang, is the signature dish of Summer Palace. There is stress on high quality, healthy, more organic vegetables.
My experience starts with soup like tea, served near the over 50 drawers which are used to stock herbs - an essential part of cooking. But today, they add to the décor and feel of the place. The four Ps that guide Summer Palace chefs are People, Product, Processing and Profit, and they seem to be succeeding in all of them.
I was a bit curious, and hungry if you like, to know what the chefs will churn out for me, and they did an excellent job of it! From the Sichuan region, I was served bean curd, stirred fried, followed by noodles, mixed with sea weeds which gave a nice, tangy taste. The soup was double boiled fresh wild mushroom. But what really took the cake was the dessert made of mango with grape fruit.
Summer Palace has a fondness for freshness and quality and it has a special tank to store the sea food and other items, Du says, adding that they serve cuisine from many parts of China. The other restaurants at CWH include Aria, the Jazz and Wine bar, a modern European restaurant, Scene a Café, and Lobby Lounge for beverages and snacks.
Although it cannot be said that places like Summer Palace are ideal for vegetarians, it sure shows that progress is being made! And this was my experience in other places also, like Zhengzhou, where more and more vegetables are being used, at least in the upper class restaurants.
Coordinates: Summer Palace at the China World Hotel, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie Chaoyang District
Reservations: Make your reservations directly by calling (010) 6505 2266 ext 34 or the Restaurant Reservations Centre at (010) 6505 5838
Timings: The restaurant operates during lunch hours of 11:30 am until 2:00 pm, dinner hours of 6:00 pm until 11:00 pm from Monday to Friday. On weekends, Summer Palace opens for dim sum and lunch hours
The writer writes for The Budding Gourmet - a portal which is exactly what it says - an upcoming site for getting to know the best in food in all its varied aspects.