A colleague led me to the Holiday Inn Lido branch of Pure Lotus at the end of my first week visiting Beijing for work. He said it was a bit special and should be saved for the end of the trip. I wasn't sure what to expect as vegetarian wouldn't usually be my first choice of restaurant. Well - what followed was one of the most fantastic and memorable restaurant experiences of my life. I have travelled extensively and enjoyed many wonderful restaurants but at Pure Lotus I felt like I had stepped into a different world! An eclectic mix of chintzy and comfortable furnishings (bizarrely reminded me of my grandmother's Victorian style parlour room and only lacked the aspidistra)! Everything about this place is different, starting with the menu. Shame the German chap who reviewed here earlier couldn't get past this first challenge! For me it presented a wow factor that continued to build through the evening. The waiter was charming and helpful and ready to give recommendations on the menu. I was concerned that a couple of dishes I liked the look of were described as 'not very popular' and in the end went partially with his recommendation and partially with what took my fancy. Everything was exquisite in presentation and taste. I have never experienced so much flavour in vegetarian, let alone vegan cuisine. For this I could definitely give up eating meat. The best Tom Yam soup I have ever tasted and even the desert cake was exquisite, and no eggs were harmed in its baking!! Do be careful what you order price wise, as the teas on offer are priced like vintage French wines. We paid attention to this and ended up with a fantastic meal at a price that represented excellent value. If you want a restaurant that plays with every one of your senses - perfectly balancing flavour and spice on your taste buds, catching your eye with the Lilliputian uniforms and bleached hair of the delightful wait staff, the most imaginative presentation of dishes and a background ambience of beautiful incense and eclectic music, then fly to Beijing and book a table at Pure Lotus!
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