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Naoki at Aman at Summer Palace – Beijing, China

Hugely Disappointing Fare at this Aman Resort Restaurant


Restaurant Category : French, Japanese

Naoki at Aman at Summer Palace – Beijing, China: Executive Chef Naoki Okumura combines French and Japanese, two of the world’s most sophisticated and highly perfected cuisines, at the exclusive Aman resort restaurant in Beijing named after him - Naoki at the Summer Palace. The concierge at Aman highly recommended Naoki when we inquired about first rate dining options in the city. He informed us that this was the resort’s signature restaurant in Beijing. Called “French Kaiseki,” the prepared dishes are original fare that blends the best of Kyoto’s local flavors and delicacies into the chef’s unique style of French cooking. The idea is to savor many small dishes, admiring the fine artistry of the preparation with every smell, touch, sight and bite. Because the description sounded so good, we saved it for our last day in Beijing and thought it would be the best way to cap off our Chinese adventure.

At Naoki restaurant Beijing the décor elegantly mixes Japanese minimalism, European fine dining ambiance, and traditional Ming dynasty furnishings. The menu is expansive and mouthwatering. Because there was simply too much to choose from, we decided on doing the Matsu Pine tasting menu and make life easier.

First came the Corn crème croquette, petite salad and tomato sauce, a tasty bite that whetted our appetites. Portions were on the small side as expected and we were anxious for the next course. Next, came the Kyoto style hors d’oeuvres: shrimp with orange, mushroom with vegetables, Foie Gras, squid and duck to name a few… They all looked and tasted good, but not wow by any means. Then they served us Lobster and papaya salad. The dish was refreshing, cleansing our palettes from the array of flavors from the previous dish but had very little amount of lobster.

Appetizers weren’t over yet, after the salad they served us Japanese-style soup, which consisted of white grated yam, fish, okra, wasabi and mushroom. The combinations were a pure disaster to our taste buds!

Then they served us Aburi Toro and Avocado Mille-Feuille (puffed pastry) with sesame cream sauce. We found it very, very fishy. The Scallop and Scampi Gratin with a creamy white wine sauce was one of the better dishes. The Chawanmushi of Sea Bream—steamed custared of sea bream and ginger soup was, yet again, a very fishy experience! So far their small and pretty dishes garnered more misses than hits when it came to flavor and taste. Every time a dish came in, we didn’t know what to expect, which could be exciting at times but also irritating and disappointing.

The Pan-Fried Foie Gras, Japanese Radish and Black Truffle was absolutely delightful, at least for me. My partner took one bite and couldn’t go back for more.

Abalone Meuniere (dredged in flour before cooking), Eggplant mousse and Minzuna (a kind of Japanese mustard plant, mild peppery flavor, slightly spicy) salad was fancy sounding but bleakly average tasting. By this point, we had given up hope for an amazing French-Japanese fusion experience. Our last dish, Sukiyaki, a mini hotpot of beef, tofu and mushroom sealed the deal. We were convinced that Kyoto fare and French cuisine were simply not meant to be fused together.

The cost of the tasting menu per person was 1280 RMB (almost $200 USD). On top of that, add the cost of our 2005 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc (the best part of the dinner) and our dessert sake, Gifu Ume Plum Sake, plus 15% government tax and service charge, the total sum was horridly exorbitant for the quality of the food that we left the restaurant feeling grossly unsatisfied and ripped off.

Service was fair at best and the new wine sommelier was clueless. What a shame for an Aman property restaurant. The whole experience was a failure! Our rating for the Naoki at Summer Palace restaurant Beijing: Not Bombastic

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What I liked: Ambiance

What I didn’t like: Average to bad food, unreasonably high price

Rating: Not Bombastic

Address and Telephone Number:
Naoki (Aman Resort)
Address: 15 Gongmenqian Street, Summer
Beijing, 11

Telephone: Tel:(86)10 59879988
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