Temple Restaurant Beijing
A restaurant I have recently tried is one set in a 600 year old Songzhu Temple complex.
A little history on the complex – during Emperor Kangxi’s reign (1661-1722) the complex was home to many Buddhas. In 1950 it became home to Beijing’s first black and white television factory, then a zero-star hotel. Parts of the temple were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and in 2008, renovations commenced on the main temple which is located at the back of the complex and only used for private functions and events. During its four year refurbishment process, only historically accurate building techniques were used to preserve the history and keeping of the original structures.
The actual restaurant was designed by an Australian architectural firm and is located in two temples which are linked by a small walkway. The entrance and bar pass through one of the original temples with arched doors and timber ceilings. The main dining area is a new structure that was once the television factory.
Definitely arrive early, or take a walk during the evening, to see the grounds which contain the main temple, ancient halls of worship and factories constructed after the Communist takeover. The little crouching men around the courtyard are very cute as are the warrior like statues along the side of the main temple.
BTR serves contemporary European cuisine. We chose the Tasting Menu and I am told the olive oil poached cod with a black truffle crust was excellent as was the cream of mussel soup with saffron. For me, the vegetarian menu was diverse and one of the best in Beijing and I loved the mushroom ravioli. Throughout your meal you enjoy little surprises such as tiny cheese puffs and a palate cleansing sorbet just before dessert. Dessert on the Tasting Menu is ok but I am still a fan of Capital M’s pavlova or the Mille-feuille. As you depart, another little surprise – a small take-away gift – a little box containing a pot of home made jam! The restaurant’s Belgian proprietor used to manage another fab Beijing restaurant – Maison Boulud.
TRB is located behind the Forbidden City, at the end of a Hutong and is a little difficult to find, but definitely worth the effort. Only four parking spaces at the restaurant so try and get there early to get a spot. Driving up the Hutong has its usual problems.
#23, Shatan Beijie, off WuSi DaJie, Dongcheng District. Beijing. 100009