Jing Yuan Cultural Ecological Garden. About two weeks ago, Elijah and I joined a group of my students, and their kind mothers, on a day-trip out to Chengyang. We spent a few hours picking cherries, on a farm with gorgeous views of the Laoshan Mountain range. If you missed that post, be sure to check it out HERE. Elijah was not feeling so great (oh the dreaded molars!) so I wanted nothing more than to return home to Justin as we were leaving the farm, but as soon as we got back into the car, he sat on the floor, happily playing with some cars. The traffic outside the cherry farm was unbelievable, and of our group, we were the only car that got stuck in it. As we arrived at the restaurant, I was quite surprised at the exterior… it looked like a large enclosure of some sort.
Inside was an even greater surprise! As we entered the main door of this glass enclosure, we walked into a huge gorgeous garden. There were little paths, with bridges going over water, a large pond in the middle, with fountains and pagodas. There were numerous bird cages with bright colored pretty birds, signing happy songs. It was nothing short of magical inside this garden, and my students absolutely loved running and hiding among the trees. Elijah really wanted to join them, but he is still obsessed with jumping in water so we had to follow behind him closely. Frighteningly enough, he has no fear of water, and in his mind, I am sure he thinks he is a pro-swimmer!
The mothers, since their kiddos are all big now, were eager to walk around and hold Elijah. I followed close behind, taking pictures and admiring our surroundings. Above and below, no fear – Elijah tried to jump from their arms into the fountains and the main pond, and ran from rock to rock without much care.
There were a number of different “houses” where customers could be seated. We were placed within, what seemed like, the main hall. The smaller houses seemed to be reserved for private events/ parties. Even after darkness had fallen, the kids were still able to run around outside because the garden was beautifully lit with a soft romantic lighting. I wish that there were more restaurants like Jing Yuan – this place is awesome!
In true Chinese style, we sat around a large round table with a massive lazy Susan in the middle (pictured above). Near to the entrance of the gardens was a room with a display of all of the dishes available for dinner (pictured below). While I was outside with Eli and one of the moms, the other adults had gone ahead and chosen a few dishes for the table. This is the way that things are done here. In the West we all choose our own dish, and perhaps share a couple of side dishes. But here in China, food is ordered by one or two people, and all of it is shared by everyone!
When the food started coming to the table, we all gathered and sat down to eat. This was great personal time with students that I teach almost everyday, and some quality time with their parents too.
Below, How amazing is that scrambled egg, meat and mushroom dish? It came served in a bowl that looked like a broken egg in a nest. The presentation of all of meals was wonderful!
Elijah’s favorite was the crispy covered chicken strips, the broccoli and the lamb.
The bigger kids loved everything!
Whenever I go to dinner with Chinese people, this seems to be a popularly ordered dish. It contains a variety of steamed vegetables, normally including, but not limited to, sweet potato, pumpkin, corn, burdock (the narrow brown pieces in the middle), and peanuts. Below, this leg of lamb was absolutely devine! So tender, juicy, and packed with flavor. It came with lettuce and cucumber for making wraps, but the meat was so delicious, that I couldn’t help but eat it by itself, or dipped in the cumin and chili spice which it was also served with.
Above, small hollow corn bread rolls served with deep fried meat. These two traditional-looking pots contained fish and pork. Both were crunchy and super tasty! Below, its is not a true Chinese meal if there isn’t an entire fish amongst the dishes. This white fish was amazing!
Above, This Chinese is called Sophia Flower Pancake. If you haven’t tried it, then I highly recommend that you do. This flower has a wide range of help benefits, including detoxification, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, can alleviate edema, promotes wound healing and is used for the the treatment of gastric ulcers and stomach pain. The sophora flower is in full bloom every year during late April to early May. The flower is fried in a simple egg and flour type of batter.
This was a wonderful afternoon and evening spent with kind, generous friends. It is not easy to go out and find good Chinese food when you are a foreigner, so it really helps when you have Chinese friends who can help you along. Both the food and the surroundings at Jing Yuan Cultural Ecological Garden were amazing. It is a fair drive from downtown Qingdao, but well worth it if you are after a different kind of dining experience. If you combine your dinner with an afternoon of cherry picking, like we did, then it is definitely worth the trip!
Address: Qingdao Chengyang street Xiazhuang Wang Sha Road,
Wang Cao village community on the west side
Reservation Tel: 0532-87879977,55716929