Eat & Drink
BY 2004-03-11 15:56:01
Until 20 years ago, Dalian's restaurants were bereft of culinary variety. Seafood dominated every menu as if mandated by a local food czar who heavily invested in fishing net stocks. However, after the city suddenly discovered a knack for tourism its overall restaurant rating vaulted from ho-hum provincial to bombastically cosmopolitan. Today diners can choose from a sweeping scope of international tastes ranging from Italian to Russian. This newfound food diversity is matched by newfound price diversity, wandering from five-star splendor to fast-food nirvana.
Seafood still reigns as king of Dalian's dining scene and the Dalian North Pearl Restaurant grades as one of the city's best. Lavished with numerous international culinary awards, it elevates dining into an event with an array of meticulously prepared Cantonese seafood dishes. The Mingzhu Revolving Restaurant also enjoys local legend status thanks to its award winning chef. Located on the top floor of the Bohai Grand Hotel in downtown's Zhongshan District, it specializes in Dalian-style seafood. The restaurant itself slowly rotates affording diners stunning panoramic views of downtown and the harbor. Jialinge's Shark Fin is a Zhongshan District favorite with the business crowd. It is one of those rare dining gems that combines a high scale atmosphere with reasonable food prices. Its seafood heavy menu, not surprisingly, is best known for its shark fin. The Yihe Restaurant provides a nice pause from the usual seafood dining scene. Located west of town in the Shahekou District it pulses with a young, oh-so hip atmosphere. More than 100 items cram the menu ranging from abalone to eel and most dishes enjoy wallet-happy prices. And if the idea of a restaurant chain does not dim your appetite, pencil in Tian Tian Yu Gang as a dining option. Ten locations pepper the area and all serve fresh fish at extremely reasonable prices. Beer is brewed on location, lending it a unique niche.
If the belly beckons for traditional Chinese fare reserve a table at the Dalian Harbor View Restaurant. Sautéed prawns, sweet and sour chicken and a bounty of other native dishes are offered as well as a nice selection of western items. Every table enjoys lighthouse-type views of the city and the surrounding waterfront, including Tiger Beach. The Dalian Hai Jing Tourism Restaurant rates high, especially with tourists (hence, the name), for Chinese fare. Both breakfast and dinner are highlighted by reasonably priced buffets. Taipei Liu's Dumplings hovers as the area's dumpling king. Beef, mutton, pork, oyster and vegetarian are a few samplings of its dumpling lineup. Or if meat is the tongue's main, quest trundle into the Da Han Wang Grill House. This Taiwan chain specializes in hypnotically tasty Mongolian beef and marinated steaks that are so good some claim they should be classified as illegal.
Dalian's athletic reputation for outdoor recreation and soccer (it is known as China's "Soccer Capitol") has prompted a demand for health-focused restaurants. The Zhuang Jia Yuan Restaurant answers this call by offering organic, low-calorie dishes. To assure such claims, it harvests grains and vegetables from its very own farm. The Zhongshan Fu Farmer's Market not only presents fresh, organic dishes, but its country décor provides a welcomed respite from the Zhongshan District's city whirl. Many of its offerings, including the bean curd, are homemade. Or for a nod to the culinary offbeat visit Shen Yang Xiao Bei Lou Wildlife Fungus. The menu serves nothing but health-rich mushrooms, or as the Chinese call them, fungi.
Foreign fare options are numerous. Ba Bai Wan Sushi specializes in Japanese with a large-scale emphasis on sushi. Reservations are strongly suggested. The Sorabel Korean Restaurant crowns Dalian's Korean choices. Located in the Zhongshan District, it features tableside grills awarding diners firsthand views of their dinners to be. There are also a wealth of western standbys including Peter Hamburger, Mike's Pizza Café, and the Pizza King Restaurant, which includes strange toppings such as peaches and pears. McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Dairy Queen top a long list of fast-food nests.
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