Coming in at number 50 on the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants this year, and by no means unexceptional, is an outstanding fine dining restaurant bringing bold and innovative twists to Chinese cuisine, Refer Beijing.
Masterfully elevated by Canadian head chef Talib Hudda, these elegantly refined dishes take you on a culinary journey of east meets west, in a tantalising tango of the taste buds. Chef Talib’s creations have earned him and his restaurant a place in the Michelin Guide, and defy all classifications in geography or cooking style, exhibiting influence from Europe, America and Asia all at once.
Begin your tasting menu journey with a dollop of decadence, by savouring their Caviar flower, served in a crispy tart shell, with petite herbs and flowers surrounding the rich sturgeon caviar.
The foray into gastronomy continues with the chef’s green masterpiece, Garden Weeds, Larou Fat, Brown Crab, Potato, Burnt Lemon, Dill & Mussel sauce. A lighter dish, the sweetness of the brown crab melds sumptuously with the creaminess of the potato mousse, while the acidity of the burnt lemon jelly cuts through to bring forth a whole new dimension of taste, further enlightened by the sprinkling of spinach powder, kale, mussel sauce and dill oil. Beautifully presented, this dish is as delicious as it is complex.
Another eye-catching course, the Bluefin tuna, with three year aged shiso vinegar, almond, nori and finger lime. Delicately adorned with edible flowers, elegantly presented in a curved plate in one sumptuous mouthful of fatty tuna.
Bringing forth the flavours of China, the Qingyuan Chicken, with spring bamboo from the Anhui Yellow Mountain, burnt spring cabbage and confit Yuangu Farms pork cheek, finished with thyme for that western balance.
The restaurant is complete with well-thought elements curated by artisans. First, Lilith Rocket provides the perfect lampshade hailing from the ancient hub of ceramics, Jingdezhen.
Complementing the food, chef Talib believes the right tableware is the other half of the battle in winning the affection of diners. He explains that these dishes are the carriers of meaning behind his culinary creations, and add a touch of art to the overall experience.
By the grace of Danish glass-artist Maj-Britt Zelmer Olsen, a concerto of light and shadow is brought forth, telling a story of coherence and the universe through tableware. This special tableware was inspired by our connection to the sky, ocean and rocks and incorporates natural materials that bring this vision to life.
Sourced from one of the oldest pottery producing areas of Japan, Shigaraki Town, Otani Pottery lends its expert craftsmanship to provide fine porcelain and dinner plates, as thin as a mirror and with a glaze like jade. Custom-made for Refer, each piece is a work of art that is warm, delicate and charming.
Finally, Kasper Wurtz’s collection of ceramics crafted in Denmark uplift Refer’s dishes with their shadowy, spatial and planar concavity, ensuring the dishes are also served at the perfect temperature, in a testament to chef Talib’s attention to detail. The natural warmth of the colour of the dishes perfectly complement the food served, in a natural aesthetic.
Don’t miss this delectable dining experience in the heart of Beijing.