A Kings Joy Anniversary

Nicholas Quirke was looking back on his journey on 1 February 2021 and noted that his alliance with Peng sowed it seeds on the same date in 2020 when they met online through the Internations Social Network. It was the anniversary of a meeting that needed honouring and they were doing it in style by dining that evening at the worlds only Three Michelin Star Vegetarian restaurant. This was certainly going to be a meal to remember if not just for the food but for its cost. The day though, a Monday, was beginning with him making his way to Chaoyangmen to take a lesson with his cutest pupil Jean. He was surprised to be summonsed to work as it was his understanding that all the extra curricular schools had closed their doors due to Beijing’s recent edict. However on the colder than cold winter morning it felt good to be setting off to work again. He had already got a new pupil lined up for online lessons, which were due to start that afternoon on ’Classin’ which, meant it was a busy day for him. The lesson with Jean was going well but halfway through his first hour he was asked to move to a smaller classroom at the rear of the establishment and told he would be locked in. This seemed an extreme measure but he realised that the principal was pushing the boundaries of what was allowed. 20 minutes into his second hour he was asked to vacate the premises and he was not even able to leave via the entrance but was dispatched covertly down a disused emergency staircase. It was an ignoble departure but there was no antipathy as a result and once outside in the brilliant blue cold air and the sight of all the red lanterns that dominated the street view now that the advent of New Year had begun raised his spirits and dispel his annoyance. His first Online lesson using ‘Classin’ that the afternoon and true to form for the schools organisation, even though he had everything prepared and under control his pupil had a completely different workbook to him and he ended up having to photograph work and send it through to her. Undeterred by this drawback the lesson proceeded and seemed to go well. The main event of the day was his dinner with Peng and when his lesson was over they cycled to Changchunjie station and set off to Yonghegong otherwise known as Lama Temple Station where Kings Joy was located in a nearby Hutong and remodelled from a courtyard house with a glass-roofed dining room. With the official New Year season starting that day, it also meant that he could collect ‘Fu’ cards through the Ali Pay app. This involved finding and scanning up to 10 ‘Fu’ a day and was an activity he was now taking part in along with a billion Chinese citizens. It was fun to do and the outside wall of the restaurant was adorned with a blessing for him to scan. The experience of dining at Kings Joy really was supreme. Rarely had he enjoyed such consummate service in an eating establishment and once the meal was underway, accompanied by an accomplished harpist, it became easy to see why it was the only Vegetarian diner with 3 Michelin stars. In fact, from his research it was only one of 10 in the world recognised by the Michelin guide. On being seated he was presented with an array of handkerchiefs from which he could choose two decorated with their Logo which, was a free gift to customers to promote the protection of the planet and eliminate the use of paper towels. It was one of things he liked most about dining in the Vegetarian/ Vegan restaurants here in Chinas was that they always thanked you for your contribution to the conservation of the Earth and care for animal life and here they even detailed the effect of just having this one meal was the equivalent of planting a hundred trees. The menu was presented on a scroll detailing the menu of 14 dishes with enticing descriptions like ‘Slow cooked Snow Pear, Lotus Root and Water chestnut’, ‘Sautéed Gorgon Fruit with cashews’, ‘Bamboo Shoot and tripe with Fragrance of Spirits’ and ‘Emerald Coconut Cloud’ amongst the delicacies. There followed a sumptuously presented parade of dishes which the Taiwanese chef, who had honed his skills at his grandparents’ restaurant of the same name, prepared. By the end he felt sated and when the staff, who had exquisitely described each serving for him in English, asked for a testimonial he was more than happy to oblige. Three hundred and sixty five days earlier when he had arrived in Beijing he struggled to eat and dined on Pot noodles and Pringles. The meal, fit for a king, and he was served the vegan desert delicacies enjoyed by the Emperors, was a fitting repast to mark his meeting with Peng and his stay in China. The meal had taken nearly 3 hours to consume and when it finally ended they were shown the restaurant’s Bamboo garden. Content with his lot they returned home and surprisingly, in spite of having eaten after 7pm for the first time in over a month and being concerned that its digestion would disrupt his slumber he enjoyed the deepest sleep he had experienced in months.

1 Comment

  1. Out the back like a criminal and then dine like a king in the evening, what a fantastic meal x

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