Moscow Restaurant, considered the most famous Russian restaurant in Beijing. It opened in 1954 as part of a huge exposition complex built by the former Soviet Union in the Xizhimen area. [Photo provided to China Daily]
A Soviet-era landmark was the first foreign restaurant in Beijing, and is still a great place to ring in the new year, Mike Peters reports.
Our Russian friends have a gift for making New Year celebrations last ... and last ... and last. Feeling a bit left out, we went looking for a suitable place to join in the merry-making, or at least see what all the fuss was about.
The Chinese capital has plenty of Russian restaurants to pick from, but we couldn't resist the great babushka (grandmamma) of them all. There are zestier－and certainly cheaper－choices, but none quite as original as Moscow Restaurant, which opened in 1954 as part of a huge exposition complex that the former Soviet Union built in the Xizhimen area.
Almost everything about the restaurant is on a grand scale. The brocaded columns in the dining room could permanently arrest your attention if it weren't for the massive gold chandeliers. There are oil paintings in fine gilt frames. Beautifully carved wooden armchairs are upholstered in richly colored floral prints. It's so pleasant that we could never call it vulgar. But you'd never call it homey unless, say, you're the last of the Romanovs.
We started our meal with a big steaming bowl of borscht. Touted in the menu as having been served to Mao Zedong by Josef Stalin, this hearty soup is a given at any Russian restaurant worth its salt.