After a morning of sight seeing, M suggested heading to Hou Hai to have a chill out lunch at this fab Vietnamese place he knows. Us four ducklings, without a clue as to where we were, were obedient followers and Hou Hai we went.

After a 20 min cab ride we arrived at this place that looks errily similar to Boat Quay in Singapore, albeit with more Chinese-y buildings. There weren't many tourists this pleasant Monday lunch time, and off we went in search of M's destination. Most of the buildings along the lake have kept their traditional facade but completely revamped on the inside - with the majority being restaurants and tourist galleries.

We began doubting M's sense of direction after he brought us all the way to the end of the footpath and back, especially since he already called up K asking for directions. Bossy me decided to take charge and began flipping our tour book to find the address - at that point I made this startling discovery - we were in Hou Hai (back of the lake) while the restaurant was in Qian Hai (front of the lake) - totally at the opposite end! We agreed to just stay in this nice area and decided to try South Silk Road.

South Silk Road is the creation of an artist Fang Lijun, who opened his first Yunnan restaurant in Soho to great success. This restaurant specilises in spicy southwestern Yunnan cuisine with a modern twist. Because it was a hot day, we decided to sit outside next to the lake, but if you go, I'd highly recommend sitting inside the restaurant, with its stunning sleek decor. The private rooms upstairs are fab - with a great lake view and very comfortable surroundings. Was told that the original branch is even more awesome.

Our first dish was cured Yunna ham - doesn't it look totally like spanish tapas? It was meaty and full of flavor, but a touch too salty - guess it just means it is perfect with some beer.

The spiced lamb rib looked and tasted magnificent - the meat was tender and felt like an explosion of flavor in your mouth. This was probably the spicest of all the dishes at this lunch. (by the way, I really like how this picture has turned out - looks so inviting)

R is a vegetarian by choice, which was great because this forced us to order a lot more veggie dishes than normal. This panfried fromage sounded odd, but tasted great - felt like panfried mozarella, another great snack to go down with some beer. The cheese was very light in flavour and was perfect when eaten with a little bit of the spiced pepper condiment.

Another interesting veggie dish - we thought it was amusing that our friends from the west have never eaten or seen lotus root before. However, eating it this way was also a first for us - glutinous rice was stuffed in-between the lotus root holes and the pieces were then pan fried with spices. The contrast in texture and the added kick from the spices made this a popular dish that we enjoyed tremendously. I am not sure whether this was one of this restaurant's creation or a traditional dish - if the former, I applaud their creativity.

Deep fried calamari - a popular dish both in the east and west.

Guess what's in the pumpkin?

... rice steamed in the pumpkin~ the taste of the pumpkin was a lot fainter than I imagined - this was similar to steamed rice... so not all that special.

When we saw a picture of this potato dish the first word that came into mind was rosti and we felt like we HAD to try it to see how different it is. Very crispy and tasty - in spite of the chilli decoration on the dish, this wasn't spicy at all.

More veg for R... and us as well.

This was an extremely satisfying meal - and was only Rmb370 for five of us. I know - this could still be considered rather expensive in China, but I'd say it was definitely worth it. We couldn not find any fault with the dishes, which were all delicious. I particularly liked the chef's thoughtful and creative dishes.

On the way out, we saw this Starbucks (a real one nonetheless) trying to blend in~ classic!

South Silk Road - Lotus Lane, Hou Hai

The other branch is located at 51-8 Di'anmen Xidajie
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{Tea diaries}

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