...or ...seeing this is still in China .. for an Emperor .. or MY case ... EMPRESS!

Anyway ... after my visit to the Forbidden City, which ended at the concubines area near the entrance of Beihei Park around lunch time we headed for Imperial Court Food.

What is Imperial Court Food?
Imperial Court Food is a style of Chinese food that has its origins in the Imperial Palace. It is based on the foods that were served to the Emperor and his court.

There are a few restaurants in Beijing that serve Imperial Court Food and one of them is the Fangshan Restaurant, located in a lovely building inside Beihei Park, overlooking the water.

We were led to one of the private courtyard rooms, nice and ornate enough with lots of intricate carvings on the wall and ceiling and lovely crockery.

The food
Well, we weren't served 36 dishes to look at but we had 1 (one) 'looking' dish - some cranes made out of radish and cold dishes. We then were served various types of meat and vege dishes. The only outstanding one was the chrysanthemum fish. Basically, it was a whole fish but the flesh was cut in a special way and battered lightly with flour so that when it was deep fried, the middle bits would look like the chrysanthemum flower (or like a whole bunch of McD's french fries sticking out of it!). The fish was served with a sweet and sour sauce which was rather bland. We also got dish tongue soup which was very peppery and starchy.

The desserts looked really nice in little bite sizes but was all pretty tasteless as well. I really pity the emperor, all this bland food .. no wonder he needed 36 to look at and 36 to smell first!!

Would I go back again?
Definitely not for the food, but more for the ambience. Then again, perhaps what we were served was just a particular selection from their set menu and not the best one.

The banquet, only available to groups cost us RM75 each.
(Note: RM75 may not seem like very much for Imperial Cuisine but in a country where our average cost was less than RM10 for 10-12 dishes at every mealtime ...)
We were told that the emperor was normally served a total of 108 dishes for each meal: 36 to look at, 36 to smell and 36 to actually eat.

Fangshan Restaurant
(inside Beihai Park)
1 Wenjin Street
Hours: 11:00-13:30 17:00-19:30
Tel: 86-10-6401 1879
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