Savouring the spice of life
A mega Sichuan-style restaurant tries to combine the popular cuisine with the area's culture into the capital.
Opened last Sunday, Tanyutou Restaurant Asian Games Village branch takes up a seven-storey building, measuring 20,000 square metres. The building is capable of common dating 2,000 people.
Established in 1996 in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, Tanyutou has set a chain of 108 restaurants throughout the country. The restaurant is named after its founder Tan Chang'an and its best dish, hot pot fish head (yu tou).
Its new flagship outlet tries to present a variety of Sichuan-style food including typical Sichuan fast food and hot pot fish head along with some Cantonese dishes such as bird's nest soup and abalone.
People who have heard of Sichuan fast food but not yet tried it can sample a selection at the restaurant's underground fast food section. This offers a 24-hour service and aims to duplicate fast food streets in Chengdu.
A great variety and low prices are two characteristics of such Sichuan food. Although the food sold here is not as cheap as it is in Sichuan, it is still reasonable.
A bowl of sour and spicy vermicelli made from bean starch, for example, costs 6 yuan (US$0.72). A plate of Sichuan sausage is priced at 12 yuan (US$1.5).
The cuisine combines almost every flavour available including its famous spicy and tongue-numbing tastes.
There's no shortage of variety either: steamed and roasted, kebabs to porridge, soup, hot pot and iron plate fried food, along with traditional dishes.
The restaurant's second floor serves hot pot fish head, what Tanyutou is famous for.
It is said in Chinese food circles that the knack of success of Tanyutou is its special recipe for its hot pot soup.
Hot pot is usually considered too dry for an already dry city like Beijing. Many people suffer from stomach problems the next day.
Tanyutou's special recipe is said to be able to avoid the problem.
For somebody who likes spicy food, Tanyutou's hot pot soup is not spicy at all. Rather, it is fragrant and tasty.
If you cannot eat very spicy food, order "white" fish head, which is unprepared and fresh. Alternatively you can order fried fish head, which is fried with spice and sauce to give the fish heads a better taste.
Other ordinary ingredients for a hot pot, such as vegetables, beef and mutton, are also available. Two people can spend from 100-300 yuan (US$12-36) on a meal of fish-head hot pot.
The restaurant's 3rd floor offers Sichuan-style cuisine dishes of medium and high price levels. But the 4th and 5th floor provides expensive banquets of both Sichuan and Cantonese styles.
The restaurant claims to have spent 180 million yuan (US$21.8 million) on decoration. The outside and inside decor was designed by a Sichuan artist. The decoration of every floor of the restaurant has a theme corresponding to a famous scenic spot in Sichuan. The restaurant's private rooms are comparable with those of star-level hotels.
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