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November 1, 2009

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Warming winter food by the lake

AUTUMN and winter are seasons in which Chinese people traditionally take nourishing food as a tonic. When autumn arrives and winter approaches, people start to crave more sweater-weather styles of cuisine.

Cold fruit salads are out; pots of chilli with warming ingredients are usually in.

Lake View, a Cantonese restaurant located at the ideal holiday resort of Sheshan in suburban Shanghai, is already planning its special cold season tonic menu with some nourishing soups and hot dishes.

Lamb Clay Pot with Chinese Herbs (168 yuan/US$24.60) which has an elaborate cooking process, tops their menu as a recommendation.

"We chose a special black goat species as the main ingredient for its well-marbled meat and less piquant smell of mutton. After a complicated cooking process, it tastes good," said Lee Sin Lei, the restaurant's executive chef.

Just as the chef said, after being washed, boiled in water and oil, then stewed before serving, most of the fat has been eliminated and the strong smell of mutton has been taken away.

The meat gets a soft and tender texture and the skin is less tough. After a long cooking time, the flavors of all the added seasonings have been well absorbed into the meat, leaving a tasty thick soup.

"This dish is ideal for people to eat in cold weather because mutton is a kind of warm food helpful to restoring energy and warming the stomach," said Lee who has over 30 years of experience cooking Cantonese cuisine.

Stewed Lingcod Skins with Abalone Sauce (68 yuan) is another highlight on the menu.

First, lingcod is very rare on the fish market for its high nutritional value and being free of cholesterol.

"This kind of fish is very good for people's skin, especially for women's," the chef said.

The dish tastes more like jelly than common fish meat and is very succulent. The flavor is simple and enhanced by the thick abalone sauce around it.

Apart from this special autumn and winter tonic menu, the restaurant also has a special crab season offering with its "Mitten Crab Festival."

All the dishes listed are based around the hairy crab delicacy such as Braised Beancurd with Crab Meal (88 yuan) and Braised Sea Cucumber with Crab Meal (168 yuan/person).

Cantonese dim sum here is also very popular with diners, especially foreign visitors.

Pay 168 yuan on the weekend or 98 yuan on weekdays (plus 15 percent service charge) and you can enjoy all the dim sum on the menu including the award-winning Abalone Puff and Steamed Shrimp Dumplings.

The Abalone Puff is very juicy and has a very crispy skin, the shrimps are succulent and fresh and they're all worth trying.

The restaurant has an exotic and relaxing golden brown decor and diners have a great view of the natural surrounding scenery which creates a special experience far away from the city noise.


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