I got lost and ended up late, thanks to the annoyance of the Beijinger website giving me the wrong address. Eventually I found the right complex, and then was directed on my way by ushers in pink and grey clothes, those pyjama pantsuits. At the front door I was greeted by wait staff in shapeless glittery dresses, and directed up a million flights of stairs to where Wendy was very patiently waiting for me.
The lighting was very poor, so I didn't end up taking too much in the way of photos with little orange toy camera (an aside: looking at some photos my brother took of the night skyline in Singapore recently, and they've turned out beautifully. I really miss having a real camera), especially as I was sitting in my light source.
Not pictured here: the juices we chose not to order, on the grounds that they were 150元 a glass. Depending on the day's exchange rate, 150元 is at least AUD20! No, no thank you. We had boiled water.
Our place settings were these interesting but obviously not-vegan shells. A very interesting aesthetic!
We ended up ordering six dishes: some bao, "japanese tofu wrapped rice" (this turned out to be plain inari), smoked tofu with chilli and beans, a hor-fun thing, a kind of sushi cones thing, and (not on the menu, we had to ask for it), their famous vegetarian peking duck.
Don't get me wrong, I love inari as much as the next person, but the best thing about these inaris was the presentation, here in a boat with some pickled ginger and a whole lot of leaves.
The smoked tofu was not as delicious as I had hoped it would be, there was a funny aftertaste and absolutely none of the promised 辣 (chilli).
Duck was good, but nothing more special than the duck I've had again and again at Baihe (and for half the price, and five minutes walk from my apartment).
These baos were filled with a mushroom-nori combination, and were incredibly heavy going. They came last, and in the end I think we had to leave one behind. But look at them shaped like fruits!
Finally, we ended the meal with a complementary fruit bowl - this thing was massive and contained about half a dozen slices of rockmelon, which Wendy doesn't like so I ate it all (even though I'm not a huge fan of Beijing's rockmelon).
Afterwards, we were escorted out of the complex by the pink and grey pyjama-clad people, this time holding giant lanterns on sticks that were held close to the ground to light our way.
Pure Lotus was an experience I had to have - a large number of people had stated it as a place to visit, and I'd heard so much. The notable thing abut it is definitely the presentation. But for me, one visit was enough.
12 Nongzhanguan Nan Lu
Get there on Line 10 (Tuanjiehuzhan), or on the 406 (which is what I did)
Not accessible at all (little step into the first floor, awkward seating, dim lighting). Chinese menus with hilarious and occasionally useful English subtitles. Open every day, 11am-11pm.