We got together for a big work dinner the other night at a very fancy restaurant down by the bay. Its name is Nán Tuó Hǎigǎng which more or less means “southward facing cliffs overlooking the harbor”.

Fancy restaurants in China are like nothing else in the world, typically they look much more like a royal mausoleum from the baroque period than a place you’d want to eat dinner. This one was particularly hard on the eyes, coated from floor to ceiling with acres of peach and white veined marble with the occasional oversized chocolate brown fixture added to jazz things up. The ceilings of course were gilt wood panels and the chandeliers had most likely stolen from a palace in pre-revolution France.

We walked in across a bridge that spanned mudflats, exposed by the low tide. There were a few people working down in the mud, no doubt gathering their dinner from under the rocks. I joked that it was a good thing that the tide was out as we might not get dinner after all. Being a large party we were given a big private room on the second floor and escorted to the all glass tubular elevator that was controlled by a young women standing at a panel with blinking LEDs informing her of the vertical location of each of the lifts.

Once seated a few of us went downstairs to choose the items for the banquet. There were two long tables laid out with example dinners, a long cooler with same and of course the requisite aquarium featuring the live fare. Octopi, abalone, countless shellfish, flounder, crabs, worms from your nightmares, sea cucumbers, shark fins, you name it and it was for sale. Off to the side was a grill with such exciting items as tripe, pig tongue and duck heads. For fun we ordered the Giant Boat of Sushi along with the makings for a feast and returned to our room.

The food is always great and the experience even better. I could write all day about it, but the pictures say it all.