A Chinese Banquet


Dinner at the Geisha Restaurant with the Chinese Ambassador to Ireland. An eighteen course menu prepared by a team of chefs specially flown in from the city of Hangzhou in the Zhejiang province of China. But wait. The Geisha restaurant? Is that not Japanese? On enquiry it turns out to be a fusion restaurant specialising in both Japanese and Chinese cuisine. It must be doing exceptionally well for it is a sumptuous place with large soft white leather chairs and floor to ceiling glass windows overlooking the Royal Canal. But tonight it is reserved for the Ambassador and his guests and the food is exclusively Chinese. Not a sight nor a scent of the Japs. It occurs to me, what with warlike words occurring between China and Japan over those uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, that there might be a diplomatic incident if someone orders Japanese food: I check the canal for Chinese gunboats but all seems at peace.
As it happens we do not order. We are served. Eighteen courses. Tangerine flavoured beef, Fishballs in Chinese soup, Beggars Chicken, Crab meat served in hollowed Oranges, Hangzhou marinated duck, on and on it went, getting a bit hazy after the Prawns with gold foil, or was it the Lotus root stuffed with glutinous rice. Between courses the Hangzhou chefs demonstrated their skills, making hand pulled noodles and sculpting swans from strange Chinese vegetables. The Ambassador was delighted with his new chefs and toured the tables extolling their virtues. In most embassies the more important diplomat, after the ambassador, is usually the head of the secret service, or perhaps the Defence attaché, but in the Chinese diplomatic hierarchy it is the chef!
I doubt that anyone in the whole of Ireland dined finer than we did that night at the Geisha.

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