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August 6, 2017

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Lychee designed for a relaxed gastronomic night

LYCHEE stands in the same three-story building that used to be the Hunan House restaurant. When the owner of Hunan House, Cotton Ding, was looking for space for a new concept outlet, she decided it was time for the old to make way for the new.

The lane house hidden on Fuxing Road W. is the ideal space for Lychee, where exclusivity and relaxation meets. Lychee is the kind of place where Ding loves to hang out with her friends — hidden, laid-back and sexy.

But why call it Lychee?

“It’s my favorite fruit. Lychee is the place I share with my customers the food I like, the vibe I enjoy ... so it’s a very personal concept,” she said.

Covered in French windows on the ground floor, a cocktail bar takes center stage. It is the place where Ding loves to welcome her friends and customers who share the same lifestyle — a drink to unwind after a long day’s work before moving to the dinner table. The vibe — that has a purple color scheme — is rather feminine.

A painting of Yang Guifei, one of the four classic Chinese beauties, hangs on the bar counter. “The imperial consort of Emperor Xuanzong from Tang Dynasty is known for her love of lychees. The historic figure gave me an inspiration to create this concept as well,” Ding said.

She invited famous mixologist Carson Xie to develop her cocktail menu. Ding recommended me to try out their signature cocktail Lychee Kiss — a mix of gin, elderflower liquor, aperol, lychee shrub, chocho and sparkling wine. Presented in small, fancy cups, the cocktails are likely to appeal more to the girls. Snake Aviation is another refreshing cocktail to start off the night.

For dinner, I moved to the second floor. Its color scheme of purple, green and blue, has a homey feel. Instead of a stiff dining table and chairs, Ding opted for comfy sofa chairs and velvet fabric to ensure a relaxing, intimate vibe. The food is essentially Asian fusion but there are also dishes like beef tartar that are inspired by other cuisines.

Lychee elements are shown in dishes like the Roast Duck with Lychee Salad. The salad has a slight spicy flavor and I did love the fresh fruit mixed in the salad, an ideal summer appetizer. Vietnamese beef tartar, featuring candied chill, herbs, fried shallot and wonton chips, tasted lighter than the traditional French version.

Mussels cooked with chili jam, coconut cream, tomatoes, basil has a Thai-inspired soup mix that can be enjoyed with steamed rice or baguette.

The menu also features a selection of skewers from tofu skewer with peanut chili sauce, bourbon glazed pork neck skewer to fragrant spiced lamb skewer with mint yogurt. The third-floor space is designed for those who hope to linger and relax till late in the evening in a comfy lounge.


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