Bao Xuan, in Soaltee Crowne Plaza, features authentic and high-end Chinese cuisine.
There are Chinese restaurants, and then there are Chinese restaurants. Chinese cuisine is among the most popular worldwide, and a major projection of Beijing’s soft power. In South Asia, even the better Chinese restaurants tend to not be the real thing, and that includes most Chinese restaurants in Kathmandu – except Bao Xuan, which has just opened in Soaltee Crowne Plaza, featuring authentic and high-end Chinese cuisine.
Most readers of this paper will remember China Garden, which Bao Xuan has replaced with a fusion of exclusive Sichuan, Hunan and Cantonese menu items. In November, the restaurant held its first Dim Sum Festival, offering a special menu to provide Kathmandu residents a new dumpling dimension to add to their momo experience. “We were really encouraged by the response, and hope to have more such festivals,” says restaurant manager Rohit Sharma.
Executive chef Yuba Raj Pokhrel
Bao Xuan (which means ‘treasure attic’) arrives at a time when the volume of Chinese visitors to Kathmadu is on the rise. The restaurant recently hosted a high-level delegation of government officials from China. “They told us they were really impressed with the authenticity of the ambiance and the food,” recalls Pratiksha Basnet of Soaltee Crowne Plaza.
“The technique of Chinese foods is its ingredients,” explains Master Chef Dhan Kumar Limbu, who has specialised in Chinese cuisine for two decades. The restaurant distinguishes itself from other Chinese restaurants in the Valley by its ingredients: except for fresh vegetables and chicken, all other raw ingredients and seasonings are imported from China.
Says Limbu: “We have six kinds of flours only for Dim Sum. Everyone can make Chinese food with the recipes, but it is the original taste of the ingredients that makes the food stand out.”
Chinese tourists are the second largest group of visitors to Nepal, following those from India, and their number for the first half of 2017 grew 36% over the same period the year before. Soaltee now sends some staff to China for six months of language training every year and guarantees that at least two receptionists can speak Mandarin.
The interior décor of Bao Xuan includes authentic Chinese features like wooden fences, with Chinese patterns separating tables into balconies. The wooden tables have neatly folded cloth napkins and Chinese porcelain ware.
“We are targeting Chinese tourists for sure since they are increasing rapidly and we want to provide tourists and businessmen a place to experience their true food culture in a foreign country,” says Sharma. “However, the restaurant is becoming increasingly popular with locals as well.”
Soup: Chicken Bamboo Shoot Hot and Sour Soup
Appetiser: Sichuan Style Fried Chicken (Non-veg), Shredded Crispy Potato (Veg)
Dim Sum: Steamed Chicken Sui Mai
Main Course: Roasted Cantonese Lamb (Non-veg), Clay Pot Seasonal Vegetable
Rice and Noodles: Stir Fried Noodles, Sautéed Vegetable Fried Rice
Lobby level, Soaltee Crowne Plaza
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Chinese garden restaurant, Ruby Tuesday
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Lao Beijing, Claire Li Yingxue