YANGZHOU After an afternoon of exploring the city's colourful Dongguan shopping street – bursting with local handicraft and traditional snacks and sweets – it's time for the group to have an early dinner at the nearby Lushi Old Mansion.
Built in 1897 during the Qing Dynasty by a wealthy salt merchant named Lu Shaoxu, the compound was sensitively restored in 1980 by local authorities to reflect the elegance and richness of Yangzhou's 2,500-year-old culture. Five years ago, it started operating as a restaurant and venue for events.
Visitors are led from the entrance by the hostess through a long alley lit up by red lanterns reminding them of scenes from Zhang Yimou's opus, Raise the Red Lantern. They find their private dining room on the second floor of one of a series of enclosed courtyards, which they are told used to be rooms occupied by unmarried female members of the clan. Any of these courtyards are available for takeover by a company wanting to hold a cocktail reception-cum-dinner or product launch.
The menu showcases Huaiyang cuisine of places around the lower Yangtze River, featuring lightly flavoured and sweetish dishes containing pork, freshwater fish and other aquatic creatures. Yangchow fried rice, which is thought to have originated from the area, is a popular request.
Behind the 6,000 sq m complex is found one of the metropolis' most attractive landmark's – Ge's Garden (circa Han Dynasty), where hundreds of bamboo species once sprouted, but only few remain today. Fortunately, the rock formations have survived, taking on different aspects depending on the season.
For more details about Lushi Old Mansions, contact the marketing department or concierge of Shangri-La Yangzhou at tel +86 514 8512 8888 or visit www.shangri-la.com/yangzhou
Margie T Logarta