The restaurants at Ch’ienmen 23 trot the globe with their cuisine, just like their well heeled clientele. Zen, the resident Chinese eatery presents light, inventive cooking on display in this class-act locale.
Decor manages to satisfy both local and foreign aesthetics: the black reflective floors, back-lit white ceilings and tan upholstered booths and seats are clean and modern.
The menu is classic and contemporary. If you avoid the big three—shark’s fin, abalone and sea cucumber, the menu is reasonably priced for a restaurant offering such careful, well-trained staff (who use tweezers to pick up food that falls off the plates—seriously). Take the chrysanthemum shaped turnip and carrot rolls (¥22), where lightly vinegary carrot slivers, ensconced in a thin turnip casing, are delicately arranged to look like a flower. Another appetizer, deep-fried dried bean curd rolls (¥25), include strips of mushrooms wrapped in soy skins, for crunchy bites both flavorful and precise.
For main dishes, we enjoyed the deep fried spare rib with plum sauce (¥68), smoky meat with a fair share of fat, as well as pan fried rice vermicelli with pork neck meat and vegetable (¥68). The simmered baby cabbage with gingko in almond cream broth (¥48) was a light and crunchy combination worth experimenting.
The food is pleasant and well-executed. Though the dishes won’t blow your mind, for a thoroughly relaxing Chinese meal in a beautiful environment, Zen is aptly named.
Ch’ienmen 23, 23 Qianmen Dongdajie,Tian’anmen
Price Y300-Y399 per couple