Monday, June 2, 2008
Italian Cuisine with Chinese Characteristics
On Friday my friend and I went to 1/5 Taverna, one of the restaurants in a courtyard area called 1949. It's behind Pacific Century Mall in Sanlitun.
We had tried out the Noodle Bar and decided to give the mediterranean-style restaurant a shot.
I hadn't made a reservation and when I arrived, the manager said he only had tables in the smoking section available. I found this strange since I was the first customer and they hadn't even started lighting the candles on the tables yet.
Nevertheless, I was seated on a comfy leather booth with a giant wooden table. The interior is like a cozy but spacious winter cabin with lots of wood, high ceiling and skylights.
There's an open kitchen and a quasi bar area -- tall tables with bar chairs around them.
We asked the same manager for recommendations, but he didn't seem to have much to rave about since he wasn't too familiar with Western food and didn't quite like the taste. He even admitted the pizzas weren't good yet and to stay clear of them until they got better. My friend appreciated his honesty, while I felt he almost had nothing to suggest on the menu.
We ordered shrimp with garlic which was delicious, crunchy and fresh, but presented in a pool of oil. The sausages cooked with onion and white wine were good too. The calamari was a disappointment -- the batter overpowered the squid and was too deep-fried.
The mixed garden salad was refreshing, but it was drenched in vinaigrette. Someone needs to tell them to go easy on the dressing.
Finally we ordered garlic and tomato capellini. When it came my friend immediately remarked the pasta looked like egg noodles. And they tasted like Chinese egg noodles too. The pasta was hardly al dente and didn't taste like pasta at all.
The manager told us the "pasta" was made in-house, but using Chinese flour, not semolina flour used to make pasta. So while the effort was there, it didn't taste quite right.
A delightful touch was the sangria. We couldn't finish a pitcher so we ordered two glasses. They came in wine glasses, with finely chopped apples so that they didn't smash into our face as we were drinking.
We saw other tables ordering olive foccacia, a big squarish piece of bread that looked delicious. Again the manager suggested next time we could order that for a more "economically-minded" meal.
In the end the meal for two came to 349RMB ($50.33).
We'll probably come again later... when the pizzas have improved.
1949 (Behind Pacific Century Place)