A great evening at ‘Lost Heaven’ Restaurant in Beijing
I love Chinese food!! And being a vegetarian I have found there are incredible food choices in Beijing and throughout the whole of the ‘Middle Kingdom’. It’s certainly not like being in Australia in the 1980’s where your meal from the local Chinese restaurant was served with a lot of MSG and the dishes only included sweet and sour pork and various other non-genuine Chinese meals that the Chinese have never heard of.
So when a friend recommended the Yunnan restaurant ‘Lost Heaven’ I jumped at the chance as the restaurant has a wide variety of vegetarian options. A group of us went one Saturday evening and had a wonderful time with lots of great food and wine.
The restaurant is impressive from the moment you arrive. It is located in the corner of the former American Legation Quarter next to Maison Boulud Restaurant (which is also fabulous) at QianmenDong Da Jie. The quadrangle of neo-classical buildings was home to the US embassy in the Qing dynasty (between 1903 and 1949) and is close to Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City.
The restaurant is divided into two floors, the first comprises a bar and part of the restaurant, which holds about sixty people.
The second floor is just the restaurant which holds about 120 people. We dined on the second floor and the atmosphere is truly lovely. The walls are made of Pu’er tea bricks and the entire restaurant has a strong ethnic style. Every corner is filled with Yunnan crafts and totems of the Ya, Yi, Dai, Bai, Naxi, Tibetan and Mao ethnic cultures. The lighting is dim but just adds to the ambience. When you arrive your place setting has what looks like a tin hat on the plate and that is removed by your waiter once you are seated.
The menu is very impressive and the vegetarian options are endless. I selected the non-meat dishes for our group and these included the Yunnan wild vegetable cakes which were crispy pancakes with onions and a great tomato sauce, vegetarian samosa, copper pot dumplings, some very tasty vegetarian spring rolls, a spicy eggplant dish and Yunnan scrambled eggs with white mushrooms – all extremely delicious. All the dishes were beautifully presented in terracotta or hand-painted dishes and were decorated with pretty purple and white flowers.
The cocktail menu was created by an Australian who won an award of the Australian Bartender of the Year – not sure which year though. Gin and vodka martinis are subtly infused with Pu’er tea that has been blended by the restaurant at their tea packing house in Yunnan, southern China. There is also a signature cocktail which comes served in a ceramic mug inspired by the traditional wooden masks of the Yunnan minority people (can be purchased for 70 RMB).
Lost Heaven also has another restaurant in Shanghai, just off The Bund. It’s a ‘must’ if you are in either Beijing or Shanghai.