Thursday, 22 January 2015

Traditional Chinese at Bei Hai

There are very few ethnic restaurants in Kalamata and Bei Hai is the only place one can go to find traditional Chinese food. Before going to Bei Hai, we asked around to see if anyone had tried the food there and of the general public's opinion of the place. Unfortunately, we discovered that many people were averse to eating there because they felt it looked run down and abandoned from the outside. We agree, a little re-decorating and a clean up might be a good idea but regardless, we wanted to discover Bei Hai from the inside. It's true that the interior is very traditional with Chinese art on the walls, a fish tank in the corner (we assumed for good feng shui), and small Chinese artifacts placed strategically around the restaurant. The dining room is quite dark but we felt that added a bit of mystery to the place.

The lady who owns Bei Hai is very delightful and not only is she the owner but she manages, cooks and serves! That being said, she made us feel right at home, literally "at home" because at times when we needed service we would just knock on the kitchen door and she would interrupt her cooking to tend to us, always relaxed and with a smile. Iliana was feeling a bit of a cold coming on so she ordered the chicken won ton soup and we got the spring rolls as a starter to share. For our main dishes we ordered the chop suy from the salad dishes, the chicken with rice noodles, the shrimp with egg noodles and two glasses of white wine. The menu was quite extensive and we would have loved to order more, like the duck or the sweet and sour chicken bites, however, the amount we ordered was more than enough for two. We asked for chopsticks as they were not provided, I believe for the obvious reason that eating with chopsticks is a foreign concept to the average Kalamatiano. 

The soup was delicious and just what Iliana needed to sooth her throat. Now I must rave about the spring rolls! First of all, they were huge and clearly home made! I can confidently say that they are the best spring rolls I have ever tasted and I have had Chinese food around the world. The chop suy was good as was the shrimp dish with the egg noodles. The chicken dish with the rice noodles, however, was average. It was a bit too greasy for our taste and the chicken was bland. Although this is a traditional Chinese restaurant, the wine options were Greek and with a very good selection. 

We were too full to order dessert but the fried banana with honey sounded tempting! We'll leave room for it next time. Of course there will be a next time because it's very hard to resist the homemade spring rolls. The Chinese dining experience is most fun in a group where you can share the different dishes and experience the different flavours. The average cost of dining at Bei Hai is approximately 15 euros per person and you will be very comfortably full. So, next time you crave Chinese food in Kalamata, don't judge Bei Hai by its exterior because the traditional home made cooking is definitely worth a try.

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