Monday, February 26, 2007

Manga Wine and Muslim Food - Xinjiang Yisilan Fanzhuang

Fans of the comic Les Gouttes de Dieu / Kami no Shizuku (神の水滴 / 神之水滴): Do you recognise this wine? It's talked about in the 8th book

And I had it! Wahaha! I think it's probably the least expensive wine in the whole series. I'm no wine expert (I don't think I'd even count as an amateur) but I think it'd be safe to say that Lou Lan isn't a very interesting wine, but at least it's not foul, like some overpriced Great Walls out there. They didn't specify which grape varieties they used, opting instead for a generic 'dry red wine' title, like many Chinese reds.

I went on a five-day trip to Beijing recently, and this place where I found the Lou Lan was our first dinner stop. The food of every province (or at least almost every) is represented in Beijing, being the capital of China, particularly cuisines from the north-eastern parts of the country, i.e. neighbours of Beijing. Food in this part of the country is often heavier in salt, herbs, oils and fats due to colder, longer winters and generally harsher conditions. Subtlety and finesse is more of a southern thing - Northerners, stereotypically, are more down-to-earth, rough n' ready kinds of people who need to consume more because of the climate and their labour-intensive work, whereas Southerners, especially those along the coast, are known to be good businesspeople and live on more arable lands, hence they tend to be more picky about food and the finer things in life.

Back to this first restaurant. It serves food from Xinjiang province (or maybe it's a Special Economic Zone? I'm not too sure) and is right behind the Xinjiang Hotel and next to official Xinjiang office in Beijing, hence often frequented by officials. We were assured that we were getting authentic food.

Lamb is the main attraction here, as it is the most commonly consumed meat in Xinjiang. Also, as many Xinjiang people are Muslim, pork isn't regularly served. We had ribs, soup, and probably a stir-fry kind of thing, but I've forgotten and forgot to take photos of it - so it must have been pretty good.

L-R: Sheep's milk yogurt; a snap of our brightly-coloured room; naan-like bread (unfortunately served at room-temp), lamb soup with carrots and herbs, absolutely fabulous roasted lamb ribs with finely-diced bell peppers.

Xinjiang Yisilan Fanzhuang
7 San Li He Road
Kai Ding District
Tel: +8610 8683 2666

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