Temple Restaurant Beijing: Where We Eat Like Emperors - The Beijing Experience: Day 6.5

Wednesday, September 3rd (continued)

We have a tradition on our trip.  The tradition wasn't really even acknowledged until recently.  It just was something that happened.  At the end of a long (or short) trip, we have to schedule a good dinner.  Lima, Paris, TorontoBuenos Aires, we go to a nice meal.  After Adele spent a week sleeping under the stars in Mongolia, she was ready for some pampering.  Maybe she was a bit of a "princess" (according to her...these are NOT my words), but she was ready for a bottle of wine and some good eats.  Danielle and I were along for the ride.  Hey don't get me wrong, we weren't going unwillingly.  We were also ready for some wine and good eats.

Adele found TRB (Temple Restaurant Beijing) in a search for the final meal.  The European chef formerly at Daniel Boulud opened a much more Western-style restaurant.  Trip Advisor (at the time) had TRB listed as the number one restaurant in Beijing.  The reviews all said the same thing, they were beyond service oriented.  The servers were actively happy to serve you.  From the moment you entered the restaurant to the time we left, you didn't want for anything.

The best part of the restaurant was it was around the corner from our hotel.  Around the corner.  And we are not in a touristy area of the city.  TRB spends a ton of space on their website explaining how to get to the hotel.  We walked out the door and turned right.  Then right again.  Then left.  We were there.  At the end of the night, the servers couldn't believe we were so close.  They didn't have any idea there was even a hotel in the neighborhood.  

We did dress up a bit.  Or as much as we could, given the travel circumstances.  Honestly, we could have been in jeans.  No one would have blinked.  But if we're going to do a dinner, we may as well do this right.

As we turned the corner into the restaurant, the vibe of everything changed.  Beijing has a certain feel.  It's chaotic and loud.  It feels different than any other city I've been in.  But when we walked into the open arms of the restaurant, the outside world faded away.  We all looked at each other in amazement.  I think Adele was the one to say, "We could have been drinking here all week long!!"  Yes.  Yes we could.

We were seated immediately and handed menus.  One of the servers came by and asked who was the vegetarian of the group.  Danielle quietly raised her hand and was given another menu.  They were ready for us.  

As we looked at the menu, the dishes started arriving.  It began with the amuse bouche.  I want to make this clear...we hadn't even ordered at this point.  But if food is coming, we will be eating.  There were breadsticks with a saffron aioli, an anchovy bite, and something involving a radish (you'll notice a few gaps in my memory banks with this meal).  Everything was great to start.  We knew we were in the right place.

Breadsticks on the right hand side, the anchovy rice cracker on the top left.  The thing on the bottom left...it was something with a radish...there was a piece of rye bread.  I just don't know.  It wasn't my favorite of the three, so maybe I blocked it out??

Adele knew going in she was going to go with the Summer Tasting Menu.  With the wine pairing.  It would net out around ¥950 ($150).  Danielle and I were not as convinced.  I found a suckling pig dish for dinner that called my name.  Danielle found a fish thing that she was interested in.

Around this time, another little bite was provided.  Parmesan puffs.  Because cheese is always a wise choice.  And the only question we asked ourselves was "why the hell had we never had parmesan puffs before??"

Yep.  Parmesan puffs.  We need to find someone to make these at home.
The server came by and began the ordering process.  Adele was easy.  Tasting menu and wine.  Danielle and I ordered.  I started with a Duck Egg, then the suckling pig.  We told the server that we would like wine, but would like some recommendations.  The sommelier came by a few minutes later.  He asked a question and our answer changed the course of our dinner.  "Would you like us to pair the wine with the courses??"  Ummm...sure.

Before the food started arriving, our server asked Danielle what kind of food she could eat.  Because as we saw already, we were going to get more food than we ordered.  She explained she could eat fish.  The server did seem to sigh in relief.  Because the next surprise was on the way.

This one was a lobster mousse with some kind of tarragon foam on the top.  It was not my favorite part of the meal, but it was tasty.

If I was a better person, I'd have included a cross section of the dish.  I'm not a better person.
The sommelier came by with two bottles of wine.  Adele had a pour from one.  Danielle and I had the other.  I think Sauvignon Blanc.  It didn't matter.  It was wine and we were ready.  It had been nearly a week since the last consumption of this glorious nectar.  We sighed in happiness and leaned back in our chairs.

I know not to eat a ton of bread during a fancy meal.  But...I'd only had ice cream for lunch!!  And I am aware this piece of information is not helping my cause any...
Bread arrived with the wine.  And we watched the courtyard of the restaurant.  There were Chinese Dragons and some kind of party going on.  One of our servers said there was a tourism party that was meant to show some "traditional Chinese" kinds of events.  Have you ever seen traditional Chinese Dragons perform??  We have now.  

The rest of the bread bowl was untouched.  And I am showing pictures of the bread instead of the Chinese Dragons or the goings on outside.  Because this meal was my main focus.  Not the party I wasn't invited to.

We were in another world.

I've been slightly obsessed with duck eggs over the summer.  One weekend at the Wheaton French Market, they had a farmer selling duck eggs.  Because I'd never considered duck eggs before, I paused and then immediately had to purchase them.  I was told duck eggs would be yolkier and a bit "stronger" than regular eggs.  They were.  And they were also tasty.  Which brings me to my duck egg dish...

Looks good now, right...

Oh, baby...
The duck egg was soft boiled and baked or fried.  The egg sat on top of greens and some bacon, mushrooms and polenta.  Once I cut into the egg, the yolk dribbled everywhere.  It did everything it was supposed to do.  Seriously, I do love a runny egg.

After we finished the dish, our plates were whisked away.  And a new glass was provided for wine.  Now I really don't know what kind of wines we drank as time went on, because we had many glasses of wine during our dinner.  I would love to say I kept track.   But the reality is that by the end of the night, the wine had caught up to me.  So some of the items were a bit...hazy.

The next glass of wine paired with an unexpected dish.  We were given a curried sturgeon.  I'm not really a fish person.  I love sushi and salmon.  After that, it gets harder for me to eat fish.  But this was lovely.  The curry sauce was just lovely.  Adele poked her fork into the curry and gave it the thumbs up.  Danielle does not like curry, but also was very happy about this surprise dish.

Ok, so this doesn't really look appetizing.  Just know it was.  Trust me on this one.
A new glass was brought and a Pinot Noir was poured.  Danielle and I had the same kind of wine for this course.  Adele had a different kind of Pinot.  Let's just say the sommelier knows what he's doing.  Here's something to remember...they were not taking the older glasses away.  Partially because we weren't completely done with the wine.  But partially because they would come back to pour more.  We were not complaining.

The suckling pig was next up.  There was a purreed pumpkin element which was sweet and a great part of the dish.  Other layers of flavor included a bacon and a maple shallot glaze.  The pig was amazing.  It was a fantastic choice.  Crispy skin and piggy flavor.  I was beyond happy.

Suckling Pig.

It was so good, I needed to show both pictures.
They brought another bottle of wine.  At this point, I don't know why.  It was something red.  And it was amazing.  It was better than the Pinot.  

It was around this time I looked at Danielle and we basically said we didn't know how much we were going to be charged for this wine, but we did not care.  We did. not. care.  I had finished the mystery glass of red wine and a server took it away.  When the sommelier came back to refill my glass, the server quickly brought over a replacement glass.  With an apology for taking the glass away in the first place.  I'm in love with this place.

Adele had ordered a cheese course on her menu.  And a very elegant woman brought a cart with cheese.  We all entered into a conversation about cheese and she asked if we wanted to try some.  Sure, why not??  I mean, at this point...

Mmm...cheese...
Most of the cheeses were Italian or French, but there was one special cheese.  One of the chefs/employees at the restaurant went to Europe to learn how to make cheese.  So there was a Beijing cheese.  I took a bite of the Beijing cheese and announced to the crowd (meaning Adele and Danielle...I'm smart enough to know not to say this in front of the servers), "This cheese tastes like Beijing smells."  I appreciate what it took to get a specific cheese created in Beijing, but it was my least favorite of the cheeses.

Because at a certain point I did need to show the wine glass situation.

Sorbet break!!
Yes, the wine glasses behind the sorbet are in focus while the actual sorbet wasn't.  Look, it was nearing the end of the night...everything was a little hazy...
Adele and Danielle are not dessert people.  They will eat dessert if needed, but neither of the two will actively gravitate towards dessert.  I have a second stomach for desserts and will eat my dessert, Adele's dessert, Danielle's dessert, and possibly the dessert on the people's table next to me.  And it was time for dessert.  I ordered with a Grand Marnier soufflé with a passion fruit sorbet and vanilla Grand Marnier sauce.  Because, why not??

No words.
Holy crap, you guys.  Holy. Crap.  The soufflé was brought to the table.  Danielle had a chocolate soufflé too.  Adele got an opera cake.  But they didn't just bring our dessert order.  They brought two more desserts.  A rum-marinated pineapple dish with black sesame ice cream and a tiramisu.  Why they brought extras, I don't know.  But I love them for it.  We all talked a bit about taking bites of each other's food.  And I may have told the others that if they tried to take a bit of my soufflé, I would stab their hands with my fork.  This soufflé was amazing.  Just...I want to make this at home.

Adele's Opera Cake

Pineapple, ice cream and a crepe thing??

Tiramasu.
While I'm shoveling the soufflé down my throat, another cart comes by.  It's mignardises time!!  The server explained the options and said "Take what you want."  I tried to make it small, but a Madeline, fruit tart, macaron and white chocolate nougat had to be chosen.  Because it was there.

I never got to eat the macaron.  There was just too much.

I felt so gross by this point.

We could have had tea or coffee.  But we didn't.  It may have been a dumb choice, as we were filled with wine.  Filled.  Coffee or tea may have helped counteract the wine.  The check arrived and we looked at the damage.

When Danielle and I said yes to the wine pairing, we each paid about ¥250 ($40) for the wine.  This was money well spent.  And the cheese course...this was a ¥60 ($10) fee.  I was a little surprised by this cost, but Danielle and Adele weren't.  The funniest part was that everything was added together, Danielle and my portions each pretty much cost the same as Adele's tasting menu.  I actually think Danielle and I got the better deal, when I looked back at the night.  If only because of the suckling pig and the soufflé.  The soufflé was not a part of the tasting menu.

Once we left our table, we were greeted by the hostess at the front desk, handing out gift bags for our trip home.  It was a small container of cinnamon apple jelly.  Adorable.  I will say that I never got to try the jelly as it kind of exploded in my suitcase on the way home.  Oh well...

Stuffed and giggling at the experience we just went through, we walked our three minutes back to the hotel and quickly took off any constricting clothing.  Because tight clothes after the meal we ate was not ideal.

This was the best meal I'd had in quite a while.  And while it wasn't inexpensive, it's the kind of meal we'd have payed double for in the States.  Considering how little it has cost for us to eat and sightsee in Beijing, there were no regrets.  Well...maybe one regret.  I don't know if I'll ever be back here for another go at that suckling pig.  Sigh...

This was the paper clip that was attached to our bill.  A very neat touch.

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