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Chinese mom Virginia Yu is director of marketing communication at Westin Beijing Financial Street, and her Beijinger husband Stephen Huo is Sweetie Salad’s director of marketing; between them they know a thing or two about eating out and entertaining in. Who better to teach us a Beijing dish?
Yu attended high school and university in Perth, Australia, throwing more than a few shrimp on the barbie during her time there, before returning to Tianjin in 2006 to begin her career in hospitality. Their son Nicolas Huo was born over two years ago. Unfortunately for beijingkids, he was napping deeply when we visited and couldn’t be roused for a photograph.
Red Wall Garden Hotel is located inside the historic Shijia Hutong, a tree-lined lane with unique Chinese architecture. This boutique hotel opened in 2010, and is home to Red Wall Garden Restaurant and Courtyard Bistro. Specializing in home-style Chinese cuisine inspired by the eight major cuisine regions of China, the kitchen also serves up a varied Western menu. A section of the menu is dedicated to Beijing street food, served as snacks or appetizers. Dishes are served “family style” so everyone can experience a variety of flavors.
New Zealander Irena Desmond is a global citizen: half-Chinese, raised in Malaysia, and schooled in Singapore and London. She and her fellow-Kiwi husband David Desmond first came to China a decade ago to work as teachers near Shanghai for a year. They returned six and a half years ago for David’s work in trade and enterprise at the New Zealand Embassy. David is currently business development director for Yealand’s Wine Group in China, while Irena runs baby products business Cutefish, which sells a range of sleeping bags, breastfeeding covers, and bibs at fairs around Beijing. The Desmonds have two children, Paxton (age 2) and Scarlet (10 months).
Papabubble is heaven-on-earth for anyone with a sweet tooth. Upon walking into any of their stores in Beijing, customers will see walls lined with bags of lollies and tables stacked with hard candies.
Papabubble was founded in Barcelona, Spain in 2004. According to the brand’s official website, their goal was to “[recover] the ancient artisanal candy-making process.” There are currently three Papabubble
locations in Beijing: one at Indigo Mall, one in Sanlitun, and one at 798 Art District.
In 2013, American expat Jonathan Ellis won the Cookie Monster Competition, a charity showcase of Beijing’s finest baking hosted by The Hutong. From there, Big Bear Baked Goods was born. Targeting foreigners and affluent Chinese, the company aims to create American baked goods that are different from the baked goods one usually finds in China.