Fri, Dec 30, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Hot pot fans flocking to Harbin's Ice Restaurant

AFP , BEIJING

China's coldest restaurant is doing a roaring trade as deep winter sets in, with customers flocking to the all-ice building and its steaming "hot pot" meals, state press reported yesterday.

An enterprising businessmen in north China's freezing city of Harbin recently set up the Ice Restaurant, a 260m2 building made from 800m3 of ice, the China Daily said.

The restaurant can accommodate 100 patrons, who reportedly love the novelty of even the bar, tables and chairs being made from ice.

"This is my first time to see ice and snow. Who could believe that I am eating in an ice restaurant?" the China Daily quoted Li Hong, a tourist from the much warmer Sichuan Province as saying. "Aren't we like the modern Eskimos?"

Not surprisingly, the meals on offer are designed for warmth, with "hot pot" meals the main fare on offer.

"We ask our waiters to get the ingredients ready as fast as they can as we don't want our customers to wait with empty stomachs in this chilly environment," sales manager Liu Jianguo said. "But once you take one bite of the steaming delicacies, you would definitely forget the cold."

Liu said the temperature inside the restaurant was kept steady at minus 10?C, although the chair seats were covered with woollen cushions to give customers a little warmth.

"Of course, we aim to attract them to sit down, not to freeze them," Liu said.

Harbin is one of China's coldest cities, and each winter hosts a festival in which famous buildings and landmarks from around the world are recreated in ice.

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