Black Sesame: Last night in China

I don’t usually write about our trips in reverse, but the last night we were in China we went out to dinner and it was so good and the memory is fresh in my mind I figured it was necessary to write about it before the flavor fully faded We ate at the Black Sesame, which had been recommended by Andy and Erin’s friends as well as Andy and Erin. The recommendation was well placed and the food was absolutely awesome. A little background on the restaurant, it is located in a Hutong in Beijing and the restaurant is part of an old traditional house. As you are meandering through the alley and house to get there you wonder where you are headed until you round a corner and end up facing a well lit kitchen with two dinning room tables. The restaurant is set up with communal seating in the kitchen, our table consisted of the five of us along with a couple from Cuba and a family from the UK. The location allows you to watch the cooking as the chefs prepare it. They have even placed a mirror above the stove to allow for better viewing. We felt like we were on a cooking show, where we got to be the people they gave the plates to. 
The menu is set and consists of 10 traditional or semi-traditional dishes that were amazing. All of the dishes were prepared by our Chef who used to work in a coal mine and later in life started cooking in order to make a better life for himself and family. This was just one of the few stories shared by the staff as they circled and served/mingled with us. The atmosphere was informal and was a really nice way to finish up our time in China, sharing our stories with other travelers who were at different stages of their travel. Rather than attempt to recreate the evening I will share the pictures and let you drool as you go through them.

Our chef Zhang.
Bill and Gail prior to the start of the meal.
Caitlin, David and myself.

The menu for the evening.
The viewing mirror

The first course, dumplings with squash and pork. 

Fried Shitake mushrooms with coriander.
Beef and black beans.

Eggplant, potato and peppers.
Red Braised pork belly. Absolutely amazing, it was a sweet tasting pork belly, almost like candied pork.

Wild rice stem with chinese bacon. Not my favorite but an interesting taste and chance to try a different food.

Wok fried string beans.

Garlic broccoli. These two veggies were a nice change of pace.

Spicy chicken. They used two different types of pepper. One of them had slight citrus taste to it.

One of the waitresses serving up the chinese alcohol. She said it is pretty strong stuff (think moonshine) but that they infuse it with different flavors to make it more flavorful. They served it with the spicy chicken so as not to overwhelm any of the other dishes.

Candied bananas with black sesames on them. They were served on a plate but then we were told to quickly place them into a bowl to create strands of candy from the plate to our bowls.

As you can see the strings, they were cooled in our bowl by black sesame ice cream. I though this might be more gimmick than actual flavor but you could taste the black sesame in the ice cream more than you would expect.

One candied banana.

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