I may be inhibited with my attire, but I’m not uninhibited with my words. Because nobody has told me my mind doesn’t work right.
I was finding newfound wisdom in the nondescript streets of Beijing, where, despite not understanding any street signs nor the topography of the city, it was penultimately the biggest test of my wit and confidence. I voyaged through architectural familiarity, through signage, and emotional intelligence. I am an inhibited person with a chaotic mind. Which is why when a friendly luncheon at In & Out (Yi Zuo Yi Wang) was in order, I merrily accepted.
It was a contemporary and spacious third floor eatery with a name borrowed infamously from a Los Angeles staple. With colorful tabletops and newspaper lined ceilings, it overlooked a series of palms and the group seating allowed conversations with rather remarkable city cosmopolitans. I was quite comfy on the wooden furnishings, which when combined with the Yunnan specialty food from Lijiang, made for a fairly authentic experience. Even prior to consuming the array of buffet style dishes, I knew that these were inherently colorful, made to order, and extremely homely. And being vegetarian, they offered an array of vegetables which made things lusciously healthy.
The steamed lotus roots were one of my favorite local dishes, more so owing to the mathematically challenged shapes of the lotus roots, soaked in soy and filled with glutinous sticky rice. The combination gave it a textural fluidity, making it instantly elevated from its sweet-and-sour roots. The texturally similar rice meat tofu with blackberry sauces had the spongy wetness of tofu but the slip of an Indian dessert, with a saccharine sweet finish!
There were several vegetable rich dishes, with the crispy oiled fried bamboo worms and chanterelle mushroom shards with bee pollen, and intriguing combination of fibrous texture with an undertone of sweetness. The papaya shreds salad was interlaced with peppers and other vegetables, adding pops of color, quite a contrast to the simple sides of sauteed papaya and asparagus.
The Naxi grandma fried potato chops seemed like a more Indianized dish which was a plate of fully hearty sautéed potatoes which were sliced in bite sized chops, and had a deliciously crisp exterior that was literally sizzling upon arrival! Who can go wrong with elevated spicy potatoes after all?
Desserts were a custom made dark and white chocolate array of cakes owing to our hosts, accompanied by the architecturally designed fruit plates which China was oh so well known for.
When was the last time you did something for the first time?