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Hangzhou—Fragrance Pavilion Restaurant, CHN(杭州解香楼)
送交者: 天边的红霞 2020年07月29日06:56:44 于 [五 味 斋] 发送悄悄话



【Aiden in English】

        Fine dining just took on a new meaning for me. 

        When people eat gold, it's the equivalent of running expensive wine through a wire mesh and throwing out the wine that passes through as if expecting to retain some nutrients. Luckily, I did not eat gold tonight. No, what a waste that would be. But I bring up gold because it certainly feels like we dined as wasteful aristocrats today.

        When the bathroom entrance includes an automated sliding curved glass door, I knew I was in for a show. I also knew whoever designed the bathroom was kind of an idiot for making the bathroom door out of transparent glass.

        The restaurant, Jiexiang Lou (Fragrance Pavilion), is known for its great food and atmosphere and ridiculous prices. Through reservation, we happened to receive a private dining room on the second floor, fitted with private servers. Greeted with hot towels and gracious waiters, I felt like a fish out of water, suffocating in the air of the upper class.

        Obviously, we weren't the only individuals to enjoy tonight's dining experience. Mother finally decided to meet an editor of my books in person from Shanghai. Before entering the room, I felt a slight nervous tingling; that tingling dissipated after a handshake and smile. While meeting his son, Maomao, I sat at the table in preparation for an experience I will not relive until who knows. Being the type of person she is, mother took the menu by force and ordered for all  deservingly, as the check was all hers as well.

        And on came the dishes. In a top-notched restaurant, appearance absolutely becomes a new flavor in the pallet. Sweet yams and rice cake? Sure, topped with a golden strand of sugar that looked like a bow tie. While the decoration tasted like cotton candy, the eye candy was surely worth the however overpriced amount of money listed.

        It didn't take long to discover that the price of food did not necessarily correlate with its tastiness. Much like classical music, if one pushes the difficulty too high, it becomes contemporary music -- spectacular, but only for professionals. This fine dining experience flirted with that crazed food experimental dishes, but never relinquished that household taste. The best way to describe it is like having a gourmet chef make your mac and cheese. He'll have macaroni and cheese, but not only will both the macaroni and cheese be the most expensive items at the supermarket, but there would also be three black truffles shaved on top. Is it still mac and cheese? Technically.

        Not that there wasn't a notable dish, but all the dishes were exceptional (except this one dish that was like a veggie wrap). I enjoyed a boatload of seafood in many ways previously unexplored: Sea Urchins in Tofu, Abalone on Eggplant, Traditionally Braised Yellow Croaker with Scallions, Signature Jellyfish Heads, King Prawns Fried with Crispy Garlic Hong Kong Style, Baked Sea Cucumber en Casserole, etc. Never losing a home-cooking feel, I thoroughly enjoyed even the vegetable dishes. Perhaps that was the highlight of the meal: seafood-flavored Chinese mustards, the purely green dish. Mixed in a mysterious yellow sauce and covered in garlic, a spinach-like vegetable shined through with a creamy, tender taste. In normal dining occasions, any leaf on the table equaled a chewing nightmare. In this case, the extra money spent paid for an unbelievably smooth trip down the throat. That is a great accomplishment: creating enjoyment out of the unenjoyable.

       I cannot say I expected more from such a pricy restaurant, but what I received definitely was unexpected. Enjoyable and unforgettable memories created over food might highlight this vacation, but in China, that is predictable. And while other delicacies laid beside my plate, the marvel of the night may have gone to the devil's invention: leafy greens.











Today in History(历史上的今天):

2019: Hangzhou—Lingering Snow on Broken Bridge(杭州—断桥残雪)

2019: Hangzhou—Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake, CHN(杭州—平湖秋月)

2019: Hangzhou—Three Pools Mirroring the Moon, CHN(杭州—三潭印月)

2019: Hangzhou—Viewing Fish @ Flower Pond, CHN(杭州—花港观鱼)

2019: Hangzhou—Temple of Soul's Retreat, China(杭州灵隐寺)

2019: Hangzhou—Flying Peak, China(杭州飞来峰)

2018: Port of Barcelona, Spain(西班牙巴塞罗那港)

2018: Barcelona—Public Arts, Spain(西班牙巴塞罗那—公共艺术)

2018: Barcelona—Emblematic Thoroughfares(西班牙巴塞罗那—地标建筑)

2018: Barcelona the City of Gaudi, Spain(西班牙巴塞罗那—高迪之城)

2018: Barcelona—Gaudi's 7 Masterpieces, Spain(西班牙巴塞罗那—高迪七大杰作)

2018: Barcelona the City of Counts, Spain(西班牙巴塞罗那—伯爵之城)

2015: PSC B-Ball Camp─Just A Game(费城运动俱乐部篮球营─比赛就是比赛)

2014: Two Summer Camps(两种夏令营)

2013: 水上派对(Pool Party @ Maplewood)

2012: Camp Report(夏令营简讯)



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