2008-07-03 07:16:15 GMT 2008-07-03 15:16:15 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
BEIJING, July 3 -- Compared with urban eateries in the concrete jungle, the new lakeside Ocean Banquet restaurant in Changfeng Park is a pleasure for the eyes as well as the gourmet palate. Especially if you like North China delicacies like sea cucumber.
The high-end restaurant overlooks Silver Mattock Lake, and when night falls, neon lights illuminate the scenery.
"The compelling beauty and tranquillity of the scene pushed me to take a crack at the dining industry," says Zhang Mai, Ocean Banquet co-founder who is also an entrepreneur and investor in public infrastructure projects.
Zhang's partner is famed Taiwan architect Ken Lin, who worked in the United States for more than 10 years. Together they decided to launch a high-end restaurant featuring authentic seafood cuisine from northern China.
"The potential market for seafood in Shanghai in the longer term is huge," Zhang says. "However, most of the seafood is imported from southern China. We have rarely seen a place that boasts characteristic northern China seafood cooking."
Dishes include steamed scallops with chopped celery, fried yellow fish with garlic sauce, and braised shark's fin soup served in a papaya. There's even snow frog fat in whole papaya.
It specializes in "four seas" cuisine, including sea cucumber, sea urchin, sea stomach, sea snail, abalone and everything a seafood lover's heart desires.
Dried sea cucumbers are a northern delicacy comparable to shark fins and sparrows' nests. Chefs of the Ocean Banquet prepare innovative sea cucumber dishes such as stewed sea cucumber with shrimp and shrimp roe, braised sea cucumber with abalone and sea cucumber soup.
The sea cucumber is an ideal tonic, says Zhang. It is higher in protein and lower in fat than many other foods. It is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat arthritis, high blood pressure and gastric ulcers.
"The ocean water in the North China is colder, and so can produce better quality sea cucumber," he says.
Most of the seafood retains the authentic pure, strong and mellow taste of Shandong Province cuisine. Each dish is prepared with a wide variety of ingredients, from vegetables to ham.
(Source: Shanghai Daily)