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September 10, 2009

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Taste of Moscow receives a 'dah'

PROFESSOR Lu, 78, hobbled into the newly opened Moscow Restaurant in Beijing with his wife. The couple sat at a table by the window, smiling at each other.

Ahead of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Russia on October 3, the Moscow Restaurant reopened on Tuesday after a three-month renovation, drawing many old customers back.

People call the restaurant "Lao Mo," or "Dear Old Moscow" in English.

"The newly decorated restaurant is basically back to its original appearance of 55 years ago," said manager Zhou Lei, referring to a wooden swing gate, wooden floor, large glass windows and a fountain in the hall.

The restaurant opened on October 2, 1954 and was the first Western restaurant in Beijing after the founding of the New China.

For many people it was then considered a luxury to eat there.

"At that time, the restaurant offered only two kinds of meals priced at 1.2 yuan (17 US cents) and 2 yuan," said Liu Fengying, who once received foreign guests there.

Around the 1960s, the service of the restaurant came to a halt as the Sino-Soviet relationship began deteriorating. On reopening, the restaurant changed its name and served only Chinese food.

The restaurant didn't go back to its Russian identity until 1984 after China's reform and opening up.

With two Russian chefs responsible for developing new dishes, the restaurant now has a wide range of meals to cater for both Chinese and foreign diners while strictly adhering to the Russian style of cooking and material selection.

Lu and his wife laid down their knives and forks as four performers dressed in traditional Russian costumes went on stage and danced to folk song "Moscow Nights."

The couple hummed the tune. "Back then, he sang this song and proposed to me," said his wife.


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