Beijing Court Cuisine, as the name suggests, consists of dishes once prepared excl- usively for the imperial family. Every dynasty in Chinese history had an "imperi- al Kitchen " to prepare meals for the emperor and his consorts. The dishes were not only meticulously prepared, but also included rare and expensive fo-odstuffs, such as bear's paws, bird' nests, sharksfins, venison, sea cucumber, duck webs and other delicacies of land and sea. The Court Cuisine of today is based on the dishes prepared by the Qing imprial kitchens but further develop ever since.
There are several restaurants in Beijing where it is available: The " Fangshan" (Imitation Imperial) Restaurant in Beihai Park, and the Pavilion for listening to Orioles Restaurant in the summer Palace and some other restaurants featuring the Court Cuisine.
" Fangshan " ( imitation imperial )Restaurant is located on Qionghua islet with a hill behind and a lake in frout. You enter Beihai Park by the east gate,cross a briage, turn right and walk along the lakeside for 5 minutes, you will get to the restayrant. The restaurant offers a picruresque view. There are 11 halls, large and small, which can accommodate a total of 250 people. All the dishes and desserts are imitations of imperial cuisine. Its dishes are carefully prepared and beautifully served. The taste is subtle and clear. The textures are crisp and tender. The reataurant is also famous for its delicate pastries, including pea flour cakes, kidney bean flour rolls,miniature corn cakes and seed buns with minced meat filling.
These pastries originated among the ordinary people of Beijing and there are interesting stories about how they were introducedto the Qing court.For instance the corn cakes found their way into the court in1900 when the Allied Forced of Eight Imperialist Powers occupied Beijing. On her flights To Xi'an,1,200 Kilome- tres by railway, empress Dowager Cixi was so hungry that she ordered the imp- erial kitchen to make corn cakes for her. But the chefs, afraid that ordinary cakes might be too rough for Cixi to eat, made miniature cakes with finely-ground corn flour and white sugar instead.