Made in China (Beijing, Part 2)

Let’s head back to Beijing!

As mentioned in my previous post, K and I took a quick trip to China over Memorial Day weekend. After two ice-cream-less days in Shanghai, I was excited to have 48 hours in Beijing – where ice cream is easier to find.

Since our time in Beijing was so short, we tried to make the most of every mealtime — treating ourselves to massive breakfasts and dinners but skipping full lunches in favor of snacking (the best of which was that tea-flavored soft serve). We made sure to visit K’s favorite fancy Beijing restaurant, Made in China, which he discovered several years ago during a business trip. Located in the beautiful Grand Hyatt hotel, Made in China serves up classic Northern Chinese dishes in a contemporary atmosphere.

We didn’t think far enough ahead to make reservations, so K and I ate dinner at the restaurant’s bar. This wasn’t disappointing at all; we both love chit-chatting with bartenders and watching the hustle and bustle while enjoying a meal. K was in charge of ordering, and he picked out several interesting appetizers and a nice bottle of white wine. The star of the meal was Made in China’s signature Peking duck. According to Wikipedia, the Chinese have been preparing Peking duck since the imperial ages. At Made in China, the ducks are slow roasted in a wood-burning stove until the skin is dark brown and crispy. The roasted duck is then sliced tableside and served with little steamed pancakes (sadly, not gluten free), cucumbers, scallions, hoisin sauce, garlic, and sugar. Diners then assemble their own little taco-like duck pancakes. Even without the pancakes, I thoroughly enjoyed this local delicacy.

As you could imagine, K and I were fairly full from our dinner. But when the bartender handed over the dessert menu, I spotted homemade ice cream and decided to go “all out.” After all, we were on vacation… right?

Made in China serves up about six flavors of ice cream, but the most unique is definitely Wuliangye Chocolate. K told me that Wuliangye is a common type of baijiu, the classic Chinese distilled alcohol known for its potent smell and taste. K doesn’t like baijiu, but we were both intrigued by Made in China’s decision to combine it with chocolate. Since an order of ice cream includes two scoops, I hedged my bet and asked for Cashew Nut Crunch for my second scoop.

Bottom: Wuliangye Chocolate; Top: Cashew Nut Crunch

The verdict?  Made in China’s ice cream is clearly homemade, and its texture is more icy than your average store-bought variety. The flavor of each scoop was intensely yummy; the nutty sweetness of the Cashew Nut Crunch was very satisfying. The “crunch” was tiny bits of cashew – small enough that you didn’t need to worry about chewing before letting the ice cream melt in your mouth. This flavor also made a nice palate cleanser after a few bites of the strong Wuliangye Chocolate. This scoop reminded me of why I must create my own boozy ice cream; I can never get enough of the juxtaposition of the heat of alcohol and the cool sweetness of ice cream. And K thought Made in China was right to pair the baijiu with chocolate, as he figured vanilla wouldn’t be strong enough to compete with the pungent alcohol. Overall, I thought both flavors were fun. But the Wuliangye Chocolate was the most memorable of the night…. Maybe even more memorable than the Peking duck!

The Stats:
Made in China
1 East Chang An Avenue
Beijing. China 100738
http://www.beijing.grand.hyatt.com/en/hotel/dining/MadeinChina.html