In Luoyang in Henan, one night my friend Kristyn and I went to a restaurant known for its water banquet, a local culinary tradition. The water banquet is a 24 course banquet with the courses coming one after another flowing like a river and mainly consisting of soups. Now there was no way we were ordering the full banquet, but we wanted to see what this was all about.
First we had some trouble finding Zhen Bu Tong Fandian, the water banquet restaurant, since the Lonely Planet’s map was off by several blocks. It shows the restaurant by the river. It’s closer to food street, if that helps.
The waitresses wear Tang dynasty gowns and hair styles, but they seemed either shy or jaded about them. All turned away anytime a customer try to take their picture.
We were given the English menu, which is 70% shorter than the Chinese one. Our first two choices, both described as Luoyang favorites, were gone. It was only 6pm and we were among the earliest diners. Oh, well.
We ordered pork, a special rice and balsam pear salad. We realized we were taking a risk on all of them. First we got the balsam pear salad and I thought it tasted like cactus salad would. Quite bitter. Next the pork came it had a great broth, but was so fatty. We amused our neighbors as we tried to use chop sticks to remove the fat. Finally came the glutinous rice. Very pretty, but excessively sweet.
Though I left unsatisfied food-wise, that’s part of life in China. I enjoyed the atmosphere and the entertainment. They have a man sing periodically in traditional dress. I’m not sure what he said, but the