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October 13, 2011

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Getaway dining with a view

BAISHAQUAN is a tranquil mountainside spot with fresh air, beautiful views and a number of pleasant restaurants.

One of a number of Hangzhou's scenic dining spots, Baishaquan is shaped by Shuguang Road, Old Shuguang Road and the northwest of Baoshi (Gem) Mountain.

It is known for the Maya Bar and features a dozen restaurants serving Western, local Hanzhou specialties and various regional Chinese cuisines.

Here, Shanghai Daily introduces four restaurants - Spanish, Provencal, Thai and Taiwan style.

Mango Thai

The latest addition to Baishaquan is the new Mango Thai restaurant, offering authentic Thai food with the freshest ingredients, delectably spicy, sour, sweet and salty.

Thai chef Adin Sisun previously worked in a five-star hotel in Shanghai. His dishes incorporate stranger flavors than typical cuisine because they are the specialties of his home in northeast Thailand.

The house specialties are fish and crab, served in classical recipes such as curry and chili; with citronella and lemon.

The fast-selling stir-fried noodles feature flat, wide strips of noodle, bean sprouts, doufu gan (pot-stewed bean curd) and scallions fried together - the dish is tender, crispy, soft, salty and tart, all nicely balanced.

The menu changes every two weeks as the chef creates new dishes. Visitors should ask waiters about the latest offerings.

Chef's picks: grilled fish with tamarind; stir-fried noodles; curry crab; Tom Yam Kung

Average price: 60-80 yuan per person

La Pedrera

This is the only authentic Spanish restaurant in Hangzhou run by a Chinese couple who lived in Spain for a number of years.

Decorated in Mediterranean style, it features a terrace, a lounge and bar, a fine dining area on the second floor and a private party area on the third floor.

The small restaurant is divided into two sections, one for tapas and the other for fine dining.

Chef Ezequiel Cardozo has worked in Michelin-starred kitchens.

Tradition and innovation are evident in the tapas menu. Dishes such as sushi wrapped in Iberian ham and tempura with wasabi mayonnaise integrate Japanese style.

Main courses are both delicate and healthful. Beef cheeks, piglet and spring lamb are all cooked at a low water temperature for more than 12 hours to retain texture and nutrition. Meals are served with a cup of sangria. Dessert is surprising.

Chef's picks:

? Scrambled eggs with confit potato, Iberian ham and black truffle oil

? Spring rack of lamb cooked at low temperature served with roasted baby tomatoes, pumpkin puree and black truffle sauce

? Pan-fried sea bass marinated in seafood sauce, served on a bed of asparagus, with crispy seaweed; smoky rosemary fragrance

Average price: 150-250 yuan per person


The Provence French restaurant in a villa opened in 2007. Its reputation for quality and the freshest ingredients has spread beyond Hangzhou.

"Hangzhou people are curious about fresh things and they are very open-minded on food," says Eric Mommessin from Provence, the owner and chef.

Mommessin arrived in China in 2003 and discovered that Hangzhou's simple and comfortable lifestyle is similar to that in his hometown. He decided to offer authentic French food and wine to locals and visitors.

The villa restaurant has a terrace offering a fine view; the interior decor is modern, with clean lines and lots of dark wood.

The menu of Provencal dishes changes with the seasons, offering the freshest of what is in season. In addition to the standard menu, a second menu features dishes with seasonal ingredients.

The wine list includes more than 100 bottles from around the world. The menu also offers selected Cognacs, Armagnacs, aged rum and Illy coffee.

Chef's picks: escargot, chicken livers on salad lyonnaise, crème br?lée chocolate fondant

Average Price: 150-200 yuan per person

Pepper Shrimp

This Taiwan restaurant mainly sells shrimp cooked in many different ways, including pepper shrimp, hot and sour shrimp, stewed shrimp with three-cup sauces, salt-roasted shrimp and barbecued shrimp.

The versatile shrimp cuisine comes from Taiwan, as does the owner Xiong Ge, who has been living in Hangzhou for nearly 10 years. He also runs restaurants in Taiwan.

Unlike many restaurants that offer dishes with a little shrimp and lots of garnish, Pepper Shrimp serves customers an entire bowl of large, sweet, pink de-veined shrimp.

The pepper shrimp are roasted in a pot with black pepper, garlic and other spices. The meat is dense, al-dente and the taste is savory and medium-spicy.

For those who like juicy, sweet shrimp, there's stewed shrimp with three-cup sauces. The three cups refers to a typical Taiwan recipe for stewed chicken, using one cup of water, one cup of wine and one cup of the chef's own "secret" sweet sauce.

The restaurants also serves typical Taiwan dishes, such as guan cai ban (stuffed dumpling soup) and fried Taiwan sausage.

Chef's picks: pepper shrimp; stuffed-dumpling soup; fried Taiwan sausage

Average price: 60-80 yuan per person


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