My good friend Susan was stressing out at turning 30
(who doesn't?), and the thought of going out to a big
dinner with all our friends just didn't sound special
enough. After all, going out to eat in Beijing is like
brushing your teeth, you more or less end up doing it
twice a day.
Then, out of the blue, an idea occurred
to her (a good sign for a brain at 30): "Why not celebrate
such a momentous occasion with a catered party in the
comfort of my own home?" She immediately picked up the
phone and called The Green House.
Beijing's best-known catering outfit,
Green House operates out of a busy kitchen in a courtyard
on North Ritan Road. It was founded in October 1996
by 34-year-old Brit Tiffany Bown, making it one of the
first Western food catering companies in China.
"We started off catering for shops
and home delivery," says Bown, who has been living in
Beijing since 1993. "Pretty soon people started asking
for party catering, and out of that need we began to
One of the brightest feathers in
Bown's cap was a massive party catered at the Mutianyu
section of the Great Wall last summer. The occasion
was a group birthday celebration for 60 people. Other
special events have included a wedding on a boat in
the Summer Palace's Kunming Lake, a reception at the
Beijing Observatory, and a party at a go-cart rink.
If all this sounds too extravagant for your taste and
pockets, Green House also caters romantic dinners for
two or small get-togethers.
Which brings us back to my friend
Susan, who ended up selecting a savory selection from
the extensive Autumn-Winter menu (the menu is updated
three times a year).
The order included houmous dip (small
tub RMB30); quail eggs with roasted sesame and sea salt
flakes (35 eggs RMB35); mini puff pastry pizzas with
roasted red onion, feta and rosemary (18 pieces RMB100);
dolmades, or stuffed grapevine leaves (24 pieces RMB115);
roasted vegetable skewers with anchovy dipping sauce
(24 pieces RMB140); marinated salmon skewers with herb
mayonnaise (24 pieces RMB200); roasted vegetable and
spiral pasta salad (RMB50), mixed fairy cakes (30 pieces RMB100),
and chocolate, walnut and hazelnut brownies (30 bite-sized
Once at the party, with the food
nicely arranged on a living room table and guests arriving,
Susan recovered her youthful joie-de-vivre and at once
became the hostess with the mostest. The dolmades, looking
very much like miniature tamales from my home country
in Central America, were delicious, disappearing faster
than you could cry "save one for me." The vegetable
skewers could only be described as decent. Even after
some reheating, they were a bit on the tough side. However,
the salmon skewers, which are best served sizzling hot,
were divine. Tender and deliciously marinated, with
a hint of teriyaki sauce.
Rounding out the evening, and ending
the event with a sweet finish on everyone's palate,
were the delicious walnut and hazelnut brownies.
The Green House not only serves up
an enticing variety of gourmet dishes and snacks, it
can also provide party equipment, dinnerware, an on-site
chef and wait service, theme decorations, as well as
music and other entertainment.
The idea of live entertainment provided
by the catering company gives most people flashbacks
to bad wedding receptions. Don't worry, Green House's
offerings aren't limited to 1980s cover bands. You can
choose from a wide variety of entertainment including
fire dancers, magicians and Chinese acrobats. The Green
House also provides DJ services, live bands and a string
quartet. If you have anything else in mind, they can
probably book it.
In addition to its catering kitchen,
the Green House also houses a tasting room called Cafe
108, which is used for clients to taste food before
placing an order. Cafe 108 is also open for lunch, but
by reservation only. Reservations must be made before
11 a.m. the same day. Simply decorated with two long
tables that comfortably seat eight people, the cafe
is an ideal place for small meetings, or an intimate
"What we offer is good international
food and professional, top-quality service," says Irene
Deng, 27, client services manager for Green House. "Most
of our Western food ingredients are imported. We get
sausages and salami from Germany, cheeses from Australia,
olives and peas from the U.S. and pasta from Italy."
The Green House
109 Nanhong Apartments, 7 Ritan North Road, Chaoyang
Hours: 9 am-5 pm weekdays.
The kitchen is open every day from 9 am-6 pm
Food: *** Ambience: n/a Service:
**** Cost: YYY