My Beijing Trip and Eats (Part 2)

Monday, December 09, 2013

[Beijing Holiday Pics Part 2] Beijing, sometimes romanticized as Peking, is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world. 
But my deepest impression of Peking (Besides eating the very popular dish - Peking Duck lol) is the ever enticing Forbidden City 
Touring Beijing 
The common name, "The Forbidden City", is a translation of the Chinese name Zijin Cheng (紫禁城 - literally "Purple Forbidden City"). The name is a significance on many levels. Zi, or "Purple", refers to the North Star, which in ancient China was called the Ziwei Star, and in traditional Chinese astrology was the heavenly abode of the Celestial Emperor. The surrounding celestial region, the Ziwei Enclosure was the realm of the Celestial Emperor and his family. The Forbidden City, as the residence of the terrestrial emperor, was its earthly counterpart. Jin, or "Forbidden", referred to the fact that no one could enter or leave the palace without the emperor's permission. Cheng means a walled city. 
I've always been extremely fascinated with history and I like visiting museums and such, just to know how people lived in the past. Although I've been to The Forbidden Palace many years ago, I am still intrigued by it so I wasn't going to miss out on going again this time round.
Repair and restoration works have been going on for the longest time but there are still many local visitors and tourists so try to avoid going on a weekend if you are there.
Heading in
I chose to rent the Automatic Guide for a clearer description because some of the buildings look pretty similar and I tend to get confused! 
We were incredibly lucky that the skies were so blue that day!
The long stone carvings in the middle of the steps are incredibly intricate and I cannot imagine how people could carve something so beautiful out of a piece of stone!
This is the Hall of Supreme Harmony 太和殿  - it is the largest hall in the Palace and was the location where Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty Emperors hosted their enthronement and wedding ceremonies.
Set into the ceiling directly above the throne is an intricate caisson decorated with a coiled dragon, from the mouth of which issues a chandelier-like set of metal balls. Called the "Xuanyuan Mirror", this object harkens back to Xuanyuan, the Yellow Emperor, the legendary first ruler of China. In the Ming Dynasty, the Emperor held court here to discuss affairs of state. During the Qing Dynasty, Emperors held court far more frequently. As a result, the location was changed to the Inner Court, and the Hall of Supreme Harmony was only used for ceremonial purposes, such as coronations, investitures, and imperial weddings.
The huge water urns all around the Palace were used to hold water in case of fire 
The Hall of Preserving Harmony 保和殿 - is one of the three halls of the Outer Court of the Forbidden City.
 It was used for rehearsing ceremonies, and was also the site of the final stage of the Imperial examination. Both of these halls also feature imperial thrones, though to a slightly smaller scale than that in the Hall of Supreme Harmony. 
A gilded lion in front of the Palace of Tranquil Longevity
There are many palaces but towards the end you will walk into the Imperial Gardens and this would be the emperor's view upon entering the Imperial Garden, which is built in 1417. The large urn is an incense burner.
Lastly, The Gate of Divine Might or Gate of Divine Prowess 神武门 is the northern gate of the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. It faces Jingshan Park. A tablet above the doorway reads "The Palace Museum" in Chinese. 
Walking out, there are bus stops (for local buses) and taxis that refuse to go by meter so do remember to haggle for a reasonable price before you hope into one.
Day Four in Beijing 
Met our friends D & Gero at Sanlitun Village for brunch at Element Fresh
Element Fresh is popular restaurant chain that originated from Shanghai and has finally made an appearance in Beijing. This restaurant serves delicious smoothies, simple sandwiches, tasty pasta choices and a decent desert. The staff speaks English and the price is cheap for the quality you receive.
Evil friends bring me to go and see HELLO KITTY! 
And we did some walking (no buying) before our friends headed back to Singapore.
Again I hungry.
To be frank I can't even remember the restaurant name coz the food was so-so only.
Apart from the chilled tofu, most of the dishes wasn't very very good although I do like the presentation. 
Happy hour at the hotel bar
Bubbly in the afternoon, yay!
As we were a tad early for our dinner reservations, we decided to head to Nan luo gu xiang 南锣鼓巷 , a famous old lane sleepless and lively filled with various plenty of characteristic shops, bars, inns, as well as around by Hutong with old Beijing residents. 
Love the buzz here!
There was cute little shops selling trinkets and roof top bars that has live singing performances. 
I'll love to spend a leisure evening here the next time I come back to Beijing!
I did some shopping but too bad we had dinner plans if not I'll sit in a cafe and eat something while soaking up the atmosphere!
Dinner at Temple Restaurant Beijing (TRB)
My most anticipated meal in Beijing for I have heard and read so much about it!
TRB, Temple Restaurant Beijing, juxtaposes old and nouveau Beijing in both ambiance and flavors. The menu is European — heavily French-inflected — but it incorporates local elements as well. Ignace Lecleir, an owner of Temple who is originally from Belgium, previously worked at the New York restaurant Daniel, and then opened Daniel Boulud’s Maison Boulud in Beijing just before the Olympics. But finding the unusual temple space allowed him to strike out on his own
In the shadow of Zhizhusi, a hitherto forgotten Tibetan temple, this 120-seat restaurant is Beijing's hottest address for fine dining in a historic setting.
The Francophile cellar is skewed towards Champagne, Burgundy and Bordeaux (yes, they have vintage Chateau Lafite). Some of it is relatively affordable -- about a dozen bottles are priced under RMB300.
Parking or going to Temple Restaurant is tricky as its quite elusive, being away from the main street. If the taxi driver offers to drop you off at the main road, insist he drive in as its a rather long way through the narrow alleys and good luck if you're wearing heels. (If they insist that its a short walk, dun believe  them. Chances are they know that its going to be troublesome to U-turn out, hence the refusal to head all the way in) And do remember to ask the restaurant to call a cab for you after dinner. [Details on location : http://www.trb-cn.com/location/ ]
Once inside the compound, you'll feel like its a completely different world.
It spells tranquility, with the pond and candles  
As we stepped into the restaurant, there's a buzz at the bar with complimentary champagne given to guests as they apologize for the wait. "The guests are not leaving yet, we're terribly sorry. Here's some bubbly in the mean time!" It sounded like music to my ears. A drink before dinner? Oh well .. yes please!
Soon our table was ready but heading in, the tables are quite close to each other and its not as private as I thought it would be. Service was good though, very attentive, chatty and had a good knowledge about the dishes and wine available. 
My starter was a Foie Gras Terrine, Lobster, Sea Lettuce, 
Lobster Salad, Truffle Mayonnaise 168 Rmb. My favorite dish of the day, its everything that I like ~ Lobster, Foie Gras and truffle! The meat of the Lobster was incredibly fresh with a firm texture.
My hubby had a mozzarella appetizer sitting on a bed of tomatoes drizzled in a light basil dressing and while it wasn't all bad, it just wasn't too memorable. 
For my main course, I chose the Herb Crusted Lamb Loin, Cous Cous, Merguez, Okra, 
Cumin Mint Yogurt 260 Rmb and it was done perfectly (I chose medium) and was the meat was soft and flavorful. The portions were a little big for me so I gladly shared it with my hubby.
My hubby chose the Rice Flake Crusted Lobster, Bok Choy, Coconut Curry, Chilli Garlic Oil 298 Rmb which was something we found really special. This dish actually exceeded our expectations and it was very different from the Lamb main course I ordered so we were delighted to try both. The curry sauce is somewhat lighter (I suppose its easier this way to suit a non-Asian palate) and it brought out the freshness of the lobster. 
We had an enjoyable meal at Temple although I did find the prices a tad high, The place is crowded with mostly expatriates and local guests so expect some rowdy diners after some drinks. The tables are pretty close to each other so while it was a good dinner, I struggled to have a proper conversation with my hubby. I read that the lunch menu is very reasonable and I would choose to head there for lunch next time. I would also like to see the Temple restaurant in the daylight, as I believe that it would look very different too! (Picture below credits to www.skyscrapercity.com)
After dinner we decided to take a stroll along Beijing's popular nightlife destination HouHai. 
HouHai refers to a lake and its surrounding neighborhood in Xicheng District of central Beijing. Since the early 2000s, the Hutong neighborhood around Houhai has become known for its nightlife as many residences along the lake shore have been converted into restaurants, bars, and cafes. The area is especially popular with foreign tourists visiting Beijing and is also often visited by the expatriate community and the younger generations of locals.
We walked along the river but decided against going to the bars coz we wanted to call it a night already. There are bars along the river with live bands and even some with dancers on bartops! A great place to head to with friends on a weekend but the touting might be a little intimidating after awhile.
Hubby bought a heart-shaped balloon for me! #love
Final Day in Beijing
We had a late afternoon flight back to Singapore so we decided to take a shot and try Maison Boulud in Beijing.
This branch of New York celeb chef Daniel Boulud’s culinary empire cooks the finest French-inspired fare in Beijing. In a period mansion that served as the former U.S. legation, executive chef Brian Reimer turns out classics such as duck confit and escargot alongside new world imaginings like "baby pig" with daikon sauerkraut and apple coleslaw. Weekend brunch carries the "DB Burger," a medium-rare Wagyu slab topped with truffles and braised short ribs. Service is exquisite to the finish -complimentary petits fours of sugar-dusted madeleines round off each meal.
Once again, this restaurant is not easily accessible so do try to get a driver or get the restaurant to book a taxi for you after your meal. But once you get there, you feel like you are in a different country with the restaurant housed in the former American embassy building in Beijing’s Legation Quarter.
While the exterior looked serious and alittle run-down, the interior is modern and spotless. There are luxe leather armchairs, chandeliers and wooden bookshelves that subtly add a sense of grandeur charm to the reception area. 
Once you go further in, there's a solitary bar counter and water will be offered to guests while they prepare your table and feel free to talk a walk around the bar area to admire the paintings on the wall.
The dining area itself is not huge (after looking at the reception area and bar) but the tables are spaced out nicely for privacy. Having said that, we certainly didnt have any problems with privacy as we were the only customers for lunch that weekday afternoon. 
The menu is based on current seasons, which was why it was called 'Autumn' when we went there. We decided to take the Lunch set (Check it out here) and I ordered a glass of champagne to start. 
For soup starters, we had the Curried Soup with Gala apple, Coriander Cream which is a creamy soup served cold. Not exactly my favorite but I did like the hint of coriander and crunch apple slices
A picture from my instagram @sugar73. My fave thing to order in dB Bistro Moderne, I couldnt resist ordering The dB Burger, a Sirloin Burger Filled with Braised Short Ribs and Foie Gras 
Served with Pommes Frites. Unfortunately this really fell flat after a few bites and wasn't as tasty as I remembered it. 
Fortunately the highlight of my meal was my dessert! The Chocolate Sablé Crusted with Chocolate Sauce, Vanilla Ice Cream arrived beautifully with a perfect dollap of vanilla ice-cream in between. The chocolate complemented the smooth taste of vanilla and I finished it all before I knew it.
It was a pleasant lunch, but I think I still prefer the laid back atmosphere and food quality of the dB Bistro Morderne in MBS locally. 
But still, a picture perfect place!
With that, thats the end of my Beijing travels and as you can see - I ATE ALOT!
Hope you enjoyed the entry! Back soon xoxoxoxo
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"To travel is to live" - Hans Christian Andersen

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1 comments

  1. After booking our event for fun team building activities for work, the manger worked endlessly to ensure we had the type of event we wanted; an amazing menu, and every last detail that made it feel like "our" special day.

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Hello there, Pixie! Feel free to leave a comment, thanks! xo

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