Dunghuang's ancient art is iconic of the prosperous Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) and meets classical Western aesthetics in the decor of the newly opened restaurant, Tang by Meeting Someone.
The stylish eatery on the top floor of Beijing's landmark Tai Koo Li building features lattice windows that use the colors of Dunhuang's murals and Chinese patterns with French-style arches. It also has a 356-square-meter terrace.
It's the third branch of the Meeting Someone in Beijing chain that seeks to provide escapes from busy living.
The restaurant offers Western and Chinese dishes. Traditional delicacies from Zhejiang province's Taizhou－an area celebrated for its gastronomy－are among the highlights brought by its new chef, Lin Conglai, who has specialized in the cuisine for 16 years.
"Its two signatures are aquaculture and stews," says the 33-year-old, who joined Tang two months ago.
"Both rely on broths－crucian carp for aquaculture and chicken for stews."
Lin started to learn to cook Taizhou food in Zhejiang's capital, Hangzhou, and got the chance to create in the kitchen after a six-month apprenticeship.
"Apprenticeships usually last a year or two," he explains.
"But I worked hard and observed everything in the kitchen. I imitated the chefs to learn all the skills. So, I was promoted to junior chef in half a year."
His master taught him to make the broths, and he honed the skill over a decade.
"The first step to making the carp soup is to kill the fish and drain its blood. If the blood isn't clear, the soup's color won't be creamy," he says.
The fish is then pan-fried until golden. This takes only 15 minutes for an experienced chef but may take a newbie half an hour.
A small amount of water is poured in and brought to a boil before more is added.
"It's ready when it appears milky," Lin says.
He adds the broth to most of his seafood dishes, he says.
The chicken variety requires fewer steps but more time. The bird is boiled with lean pork and chicken feet for eight hours.
Lin serves stewed radish and taro with ham and dried shrimp boiled in the chicken broth.
Another popular Taizhou dish that's flavored with the chicken broth is fried green-bean vermicelli with sea anemone.
The area is also known for green crab with meat pies. The crabs come from Sanmen county and are known to be rich in roe. The meat pie is made of pork tenderized for 20 minutes and mixed with Chinese water chestnuts and seasonings.
Taizhou's Baishuiyang county is celebrated for an eponymous steamed bun packed with lard and brown sugar. It's traditionally eaten by tearing off a chunk of the outside and dipping it in the filling, Lin says.
Lin has also created new dishes for Tang based on Taizhou cuisine presented with Western plating.
For example, he deep-fries long, thin eggplant-roll slices before marinating them in a special sauce.
"The sauce reduces the oil and adds a sweet, sour and salty flavor," says Lin.
He sprinkles diced strawberries on rolls to balance the flavor and improve presentation.
"A chef always needs to explore new dishes," Lin says.
"Tang－unlike restaurants I worked for before－combines Western and Chinese cuisine. And it's also a bar. So, I need to design more new dishes for different customers' needs."