Ok so in honour, or to wish 2 projects well in the future and to honour our latest addition to the company, Alec, who has been visiting the Chinese office for the past 2 weeks, we had a company/ project banquet.
I’m not normally involved in that project, but because I had to help the guy out simply because of the general situation so much, and could kind of guide him on Chinese cultural norms for banquets and everything, I was invited along as well.
HR chose a restaurant that I never knew existed before, yet I’m so glad that I know about it now.
It was originally described to me as just a Chuan er 串儿 restaurant (el-cheapo satay sticks restaurant) however it turned out to be a proper Mongolian style restaurant. And I’ve got to say, it was incredible.
The name of the restaurant is九十九顶毡房 Jiu shi jiu ding zhangfang (99 crown yurt)
It’s in the North of Beijing nearby the 永泰庄 (Yong Tai Zhuang) subway station, line 8. Which I’d actually only recently been to in my 5 years in Beijing because a friend of mine lives there and we were meeting there for a motorbike ride.
Anyway it’s pretty far away, however it incredibly worth it.
Here’s the google map url:
The entrance looks a bit dodgy, it’s just a rainbow kind of entrance, but then you walk inside and it’s like a private park, yet there’s the Mongolian Yurts everywhere, like those big white tents that Mongolians traditionally live in.
Each yurt is an individual private dining area.
The food is… a lot of meat, but yep I’m Australian, so that’s awesome for me. Like slow roasted lamb / mutton, that’s just amazing. A bunch of other dishes a few vegetable dishes, but really not much.
There were a few things that made the evening.
One was this:
So this is Baijiu 白酒, （Chinese rice spirit) but it doesn’t really have a name, its simply the baijiu that’s meant for government consumption, and to welcome foreign dignitaries.
And you may be thinking ‘ewww baijiu, all baijiu is just different levels of disgusting’
I can assure you, not this one. THIS one, they’ve got it right. It tastes pretty decent, and its just goes down so smoothly.
By the way this is not available for normal consumption. The only way you can get your hands on this is if you’ve been doing deals with the government, or it was a present from the government, or whatever. But not even normally Chinese people can buy it, no matter how much money you have, so it’s super rare, but I got to say the gov. members have got it good, because this stuff is great.
Basically when you drink it, there’s no bad smell or anything, and when it goes down it just warms your mouth, and then your throat, and then your stomach. And instead of having some sort of awful regurgitation as you often do with normal baijiu or even foreign spirits, it just feels like your breathe is just getting warmer and warmer. But you are definitely getting drunk.
Oh yeah I think the alcohol percentage is 39%, which is below that of normal baijiu, but trust me that’s a good thing. I think 39% is enough.
Ok so there was the CEO/ owner drinking, the 2 head guys from the project ie. the CTO, and the program manager/ editor, Alec-whose honour it was, and myself. We were there ones really going for it that night. Everyone else had 1 or 2 mini glasses. But as it turns out we managed to polish off 3 bottles of this stuff in total, and 2.5 bottles was between these 5 major people.
So… needless to say… we were pretty drunk by the end of it.
This is always funny in China, but you get big respect for how well you can hold your alcohol, and as Alec was known as a drinker, and my nick name was ‘drunk david’ we…we were going for it, and we got big respect from the Chinese team.
That just sounds so retarded, you drank a lot, and got yourself really drunk and therefore you were respected. But yep, that’s just sometimes how it works here.
The food was amazing, but what was more amazing was the entertainment. We had traditional Mongolian throat singing in combination with the 马头琴 Ma tou qin – horse head stringed instrument. (the traditional Mongolian instrument). Which I have to say was very impressive and actually had a nice tune to it.
There was dancing, and there was an official ceremony where Alec took some shots of special wine whilst cutting the roasted lamb as it came out and having the first piece.
We were then all presented with blue silk scarves and kept eating and drinking the night away.
I of course managed to make my way around both tables because we were around 20 in total from the whole projects team, and other people that tagged along. I had a great conversation…or at least I seem to remember I had a great conversation all in Chinese with the very nice lady from HR from which a couple people listening in looked quite surprised and commented, ‘oh wow his Chinese is quite good’ – and you’d think they should probably know that if I’m the only foreigner working in an all Chinese company, but to be fair if I’m not paired with them on a project I don’t have to speak to them, and as I’m in …loose terms ‘international business development’ I can get away with speaking much more English than Chinese, and just having to read and translate Chinese emails, and presentations as they come through into English for our American colleagues. So yes, I think they were surprised that I could maintain a relatively coherent and complicated conversation with the HR lady.
Hahaha oh yes, also there was a manager there that had to remain sober to kind of keep track things that were said, and make sure everything went smoothly, but I’m sure she had a much less fun time because after that much alcohol there was a lot of bullshit being spoken by the end of the night.
At one point Alec challenged our CEO to a game of golf when he came to America and said that he’d beat him. Now this is pretty impressive because the CEO’s sport is golf, that’s his chosen hobby kind of thing, and I know he’s pretty damn good because I’ve been quite a few times to the driving range with him. Plus, I know he bets heavily for games of golf.
So anyway, when I translated what Alec said to him, he then laughed heartily, and then asked… ‘ah ok, what’s your handicap then?’
At which point Alec just had a blank stare, and I had to describe to him what a golf handicap was.
Which of course made the CEO laugh even harder.
At the end of the night, there were only about 8 of us left. I do remember saying to the CEO, something along the lines of ‘hey, my house is pretty close to yours… how about I just come in the car with you and your driver and I’ll get off wherever its convenient?’
To which he said ‘yeah sure’
But then I saw a van with an open door right in front of me, and I just jumped in. So…. I guess that was that.
Alec and I were both sick to varying degrees, and I had to tell him in the morning, that the way this works is that they don’t really expect us to come into work the next day. So we can take our time, go in in the afternoon or not at all. Unless it’s something incredibly important.
So yep we both had a day at home.
And then the day after on the WeChat group chat we got sent a photo from the evening, and both of us have no memory of such a photo being taken.
In fact, in the photo it looks like Alec at the time had no idea because he was moving.
Anyway, I would highly recommend going to this restaurant for dinner with your friends, company or whatever. The food is amazing, the entertainment is great, but perhaps that could only be said about my experience.
Either way, its something to check out.