Gion Rioro


Martina and Simon are off to a super fancy restaurant that is far too rich for my blood. It’s fun to watch, but as someone who hates seafood, I wouldn’t bother. I did love the video though. It was fun to see them enjoy their meal.

I checked the restaurant’s website and lunch is about $100* and dinner’s $250. Wine pairings are $60 for 5 glasses and $250 for 9. (I can’t imagine drinking 5 glasses at a meal.) They also offer whisky, saké and soft drinks.

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Goddess and the Baker

I tried Goddess and the Baker  last week for an inexpensive, pre-theater dinner with my friend. Goddess and the Baker offers a wide selection of sandwiches, soups and salads. They have a lot of drinks including fancy juices, coffee drinks, liquid chocolate, soda, wine, and beers.  I enjoyed my turkey sandwich, but it was too big. I wish you could order half a sandwich.

I would have gotten a cookie or brownie, but they were over $3. At $2.50 or a little more, that’s a splurge. These treats were priced higher than I’d pay. It’s for the best as when the sandwich came, I saw it was more than I needed. I just got a Coke™ but they had a lot of fancy drinks that looked beautiful and probably were tasty.

The space is cheerful, but fills up quickly. I imagine at lunch time’s best to get there early. One more warning. I tried to pay with cash. Guess what? They don’t accept it. Go figure.

Restaurant Review

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Dianne, her student Emma and I went to Daming Lake on Tuesday for what’s become a weekly evening walk. Before the moon came out, we found a new, intriguing restaurant in a refurbished old shop by the canals downtown. The name is in Chinese and I can’t

While the exterior looks traditional, inside there’s a crisp, bright, artsy look.

Restaurant marked in red

Restaurant location marked in red

With Emma’s help we ordered mixed vegetables, fried tofu and what we thought was tempura rose petals.

The tofu was served in a dramatic manner. The server brought us a black plate with a circle of salt and the tofu stuffed inside foil. She lit the salt and flames heated the tofu before they went out. Then she cut a cross through the tofu to open it.

The tempura rose petals turned out to be tempura mashed purple potatoes, with rose petals as a garnish. Probably tastier than the petals we thought we’d get. I admit I first thought it was red bean paste inside and I turned up my nose at the dish. Once Emma said it was purple potatoes, I liked it. That says a lot more about me and psychology than the food itself.

The mixed vegetables, while not innovative were a tasty addition to the meal. We’d definitely return.

New Restaurant

Perhaps you remember that one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants, The Red Door Restaurant, was demolished a year ago. It was sad to watch it get knocked down day by day.

I’d hoped that they’d build a new restaurant, a bigger one on that spot, but alas they didn’t. The neighborhood got a cheap love hotel instead.

Well, last week I was walking home and bumped into the woman who seemed to manage The Red Door. Through pantomime I got her to write down her new place’s address and phone number. I got someone in our Foreign Affairs office to find its location on the Internet. On Saturday I convinced three Australian teachers to give the place a try.

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I’d been told that the place was about a 20 minute walk and I only had a vague idea of where it was so I thought taking a taxi there wo uld be best. Good luck finding one. We waited by school and then by Di Kou Lu and after an hour were still waiting. (It’s always been hard to get a cab at dinner time.) We wound up walking. We zigzagged through the neighborhood right to the west of school, where parts are rather squalid. One friend kept asking whether I knew where I was going. She wasn’t used to the drab, old, concrete buildings in the little hutongs.

We eventually found the new restaurant, with the help of some Chinese people who lived in its neighborhood and had yet to try it.

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We got the famed feng wei qiezi, a dish I’d hoped was spicy chicken with bread pockets, a spicy tofu dish my friends like and broccoli with garlic. The chicken was the only disappointment. I hope I just ordered wrong. My favorite version had pieces of cut chicken without bones. This not only had lots of little bones to be careful of there were chicken feet in it too. Everything else was as good as I remembered.

The familiar employees weren’t on duty that night, but someone must have called the owners because the woman and her not-so-little-anymore girl came to say hello. I’m sure this was the first time foreigners had crossed the threshold of this out of the way eatery.

I had my camera, but forgot to use it till midway through the meal. I do have to go back and see whether I can get the ‘right’ chicken with bread pockets and a few other old favorites. The street is far, but they seem to have a few good restaurants that might be worth a walk.

On National Day

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Entrance to Zoo, Doesn’t Look Too Bad

Though I knew it would be crowded anywhere I’d go, I agreed to visit the zoo, which was free today. We started off at about 9, but the buses were so crammed, we thought walking would be better. We walked up Di Kou Street to a main street where we’d get a less crowded bus to the zoo. The wait was long and the bus was rather crowded, but what can you do?  After we alighted from the bus we had to use a pedestrian bridge to cross the street. The bridge was packed with people and along the sides vendors added to the congestion. On a normal day they wouldn’t be a problem, but on a major holiday they just made things worse. Some were selling toys or water, but others were celling wigs, condos or rabbits. Who has time to stop and consider an important purchase while crossing a bridge?

We the walked past a group of food vendors before approaching the entrance. At the entrance it didn’t look to bad, but beyond the gate it was packed. People were standing shoulder to shoulder and the loudspeakers were blaring messages saying the zoo was over-capacity and it was dangerous to go inside. We talked it over and it seemed we wouldn’t get to see the animals anyway. After awhile we decided to go to a park further east and a little bit north. I’d been there with Eva and our pathfinder, Ed.

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No one else around

After a long wait for a bus, we finally got to the river park. We had the park and paths almost to ourselves!

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Each bridge had a different design

After walking awhile we happened upon a group of amateur musicians who sang patriotic songs. Afterwards the urged us to sing with them and we sang “Jingle Bells” and one other corny song together.

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The Band

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Around 1 we were getting hungry and knew that finding luck would be tricky. There was nothing near the park and by the time we’d get home all the restaurants would be closed. We decided to go to Wanda Plaza for Indian food. Again the wait for the bus was long and then the traffic just inched along. We were hungry and jammed inside the bus like sardines.

The trip and the effort were worth it though as we had a great lunch. I’m not one for spicy food, but there were enough options in this cute curry restaurant. My two favorites were the Indian “quesadillas” made with an approximation of naan bread, a curry sauce and sliced vegetables and bean curry. The only disappointing item anyone got was a tepid chai tea, which the waitress got heated up.

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Indian Restaurant

Do We Need This?

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I’ve been watching the construction on this corner since the spring. I thought the second floor would have a new version of my favorite restaurant. Well, yesterday I saw them painting the building blue and that they’d put a sign for a hotel up.

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A hotel? There are at least 4 hotels within walking distance on the main road. One’s fairly nice and the other three are budget hotels. I can’t imagine this small hotel will be sought after. It’s on top of the new traditional market, which I’d think would mean it’ll be noisy in the mornings

I’m losing hope that I’ll ever have spicy chicken in bread pockets again.

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My only hope is that this restaurant which they’re remodelng will house “The Red Door” restaurant.