Curvy Corridor Courtyard – try saying that five times fast – is a somewhat unassuming name for the ambitious project it represents. Owner Lin Jin, an art collector, spared no expenses in 2015 to convert five Qing dynasty hutong residences into a modern art gallery-cum-tea house – and the hard work certainly paid off. Upon completion, the award-winning project made headlines in architecture magazines.
Now, the ambitious entrepreneur is adding a high-end dining experience to the mix to make the most of the stunning interiors and attract a whole new range of customers to propel the gallery business.
We enter Curvy Corridor through a small, white-framed door that peeks out from a narrow alley off Dongsishiyitiao. The design of the interior is impressive, to say the least. There’s a spacious area soaked in natural light thanks to the large glass walls that encase the room’s indoor bamboo forest. A serpentine path of curved walls gives the complex its tongue-twisting name. The seating areas feature preserved wood structures, lined with century-old grey brick walls that periodically host the works of contemporary artists.
As it turns out, Curvy Corridor’s dining concept is infused with the same attention to detail seen in the design. The former teahouse now boasts a ten-course set menu (RMB788, but you can still order à la carte) based on local seasonal ingredients devised by Shanghai’s former Bund 18 Chef Jin Xin. The delicacies arrive in green celadon bowls imported from Sichuan, Mr. Lin’s most loved collectibles and several times more expensive than the food they contain, further signifying the emphasis on the art of food.
The taste confirms this – the tender yak beef Carpaccio (RMB120) almost melts at first bite. The Qishan truffle noodles (RMB280), a Chinese staple infused with Western ingredients, follow the same principle – the filling portion of delicate noodles pleasantly balances the pungent taste of the truffles. The menu features many exquisite offerings, a highlight being the pan-fried Wagyu beef steak (RMB580) – though a bit too extravagant for our budget. The extensive wine list includes varieties from France, Italy and Spain, as well as more local selections from Ningxia.
Curvy Corridor’s new dining experiment lives up to expectations, offering an exquisite selection of fusion dishes in a tranquil gallery setting. Still, we weren’t surprised to see that many online reviewers did not seem to agree. With such elevated prices, Curvy Corridor has had quite a hard time promoting their unique gastronomic concept to the average Beijinger. That’s because Curvy Corridor isn’t for everyone – the high-ticket menu and exceptional artistic design of this hutong hideout is an all-sensory experience. If you’re scoffing over there, we get it. Though if you’re looking for a tasteful experience for both the palate and the eye and are more than willing to cough up some cash, then be our guest.
[Images by Edoardo Donati Fogliazza/That's]