Top city restaurant to close for 5-month renovation
March 15, 2019
Lu Bo Lang Restaurant, one of the city's most highly regarded eateries, will be closed temporarily from Saturday, March 16, for a major renovation.
The traditional eatery next to the iconic Zigzag Bridge in the Yuyuan Garden Malls, has long been famous for serving its delicate dim sum to foreign dignitaries.
Queen Elizabeth II tasted shaomai dumplings, pan-fried turnip cakes and boat dim sums in the restaurant in 1986.
Then former US president Bill Clinton and his family dined in the restaurant in 1998.
It also hosted a group of first ladies of various nations in 2014, and national leaders during the first China International Import Expo last year.
During the major renovation, which will be completed in August, the interior of the three-story building will be redecorated with classic Chinese designs.
Many works of calligraphy created by famous artists such as Cheng Shifa (1921-2007) and Zhu Qizhan (1892-1996) will be displayed.
The appearance of the building, which is in the style of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, will be preserved.
Traditional Shanghai-style cuisine and Suzhou-style dim sums will also be retained. Some snack souvenirs will be developed for locals and tourists, according to Yuyuan Inc, the owner of the commercial properties of Yuyuan Garden Malls.
Customers will also be able to book the popular eatery online.
"Some 60 percent of the dishes will be preserved, but the dish arrangements and service will be improved," said Lu Yaming, general manager of the restaurant.
Lu has also been serving as the chef of the restaurant for three decades, and cooked for more than 60 national leaders including Queen Elizabeth II and Clinton.
The retained dishes include Lu's specialties.
"Customers will be able to experience and taste the same treats for the national leaders," Lu said.
The restaurant had a large number of diners from both home and abroad over the weekend.
Nearly all seats were occupied around noon on Sunday, with more than a dozen people waiting for tables.
"We booked a lunch banquet a month ago and just learnt it will be closed for a while," said a local diner surnamed Sun, who came with family members to celebrate the 80th birthday of his father. "We feel lucky to taste the traditional cuisine before its closure."
Some foreign tourists said the restaurant is an indispensable attraction.
"With a Michelin recommendation, we wanted to check this place out," said a traveler named Kaiser from New Zealand.
The traditional eatery originated in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) when a teahouse was opened.
In 1924, the teahouse was named Le Pu Lang, which has the same pronunciation as the current name Lu Bo Lang in Shanghai dialect.
The current eatery was built in 1979 when local authorities decided to open a landmark restaurant featuring authentic Chinese dim sums and Shanghai cuisine.
It initially gained popularity among locals after serving a menu of 12 traditional snacks to the public, which were designed in 1973 to serve Norodom Sihanouk, former king of Cambodia, when he visited the Yuyuan Garden.
Lu's father, along with other famous local chefs, cooked their specialty dishes for the king.
The revamp of the popular restaurant is part of an ongoing renovation of the Yuyuan Garden Malls, the dining and shopping center around the historic Ming-Dynasty Yuyuan Garden.
The malls originated from a prosperous market of the City God Temple some 140 years ago.
Another popular eatery, the century-old Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant, reopened in October 2018 after its layout was rearranged and the three floors redesigned.
The outer appearance, including the rooftop and eaves, was preserved so its style blended with other buildings.
According to the blueprint, the area near the Zigzag Bridge will become a “Shanghai culinary culture experience zone.”
It will include a score of the city's time-honored dining brands, such as Xing Hua Lou, Shen Da Cheng, Deda Western Restaurant and Godly.