Birthday Dinner

Ginny’s birthday was on a Monday that I don’t want to admit to how many weeks ago because I am bad at keeping this thing updated. I spent some time at work drawing an adorable card covered with drinking robots. After teaching, I flagged down a cab and hurried to the restaurant to meet them. Bambi and Ginny arranged with the owners of Taste to rent out the whole place (not a difficult feat, there is really only space for 12 people at a time).

Bambi arranged a set menu with the chef and we brought several bottles of wine with us.
The first dish was lightly fried blocks of tofu with a shockingly mala dipping sauce (numbing and spicy).

My second favorite dish of the night was second, small round lotus root and potato cakes, served, with all things, ketchup. The presentation was lovely.

A spicy lightly marinated eggplant salad came next, along with a spicy beef and vegetable dish.
Everyone got a big bowl of lamb and mint soup. The broth was good, although after it cooled, you could see the thick scum of congealed fat on top. The lamb was fall-apart tender, and dipped in a savory coriander-soy sauce.

My absolute favorite dish was a Yunnan specialty. It’s only available a few months of the year when the mushrooms are in season. These special mushroom are sauteed with wild hot green peppers. Little to no oil is used in cooking, the mushrooms themselves exude an natural oil that tastes exactly like butter. Heaven.

Jizong Mushrooms, Only Available 3 Months a Year in Yunnan

Beef and vegetables cooked in a banana leaf came out next. The sauce was excellent on rice.

Beef and Onions Steamed in a Banana Leaf

Lastly they brought out platters of fresh broccoli, radishes, cucumbers and green beans to dip in a sweet-spicy sauce. They also brought Ginny a glass full of their special bumblebee liquor, with an actual bee floating around in it. After passing it around the table to smell or sip, Ginny downed the bee.

Taste is my new favorite restaurant in China and I really hope they stick around for a while. Somehow it got to be renowned on TripAdvisor and rated #1. While I don’t contest that claim at all, it does make it annoying when you have to call and make reservations at your little tiny hole in the hutong restaurant any night of the week because it’s filled with laowai who’ve made reservations through their hotels.


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