TRB Forbidden City Hosts Michelin Chef Koen Verjans

After two years of being known as the more casual dining concept called TRB Bites@The Courtyard, the TRB Hospitality Group announced earlier in Spring that they would revamp the venue for their guests to enjoy sophisticated meals. Renamed TRB Forbidden City, this is your answer when your driver refuses to drive down that narrow hutong to the original TRB and you’re looking to impress your guests with the best that Beijing has to offer.

“[Where] one is expected to find comfort in elegance that he/she has come to associate TRB with, the only difference lies in that instead of dining in the historical temple compound, they will now be feasting in the regally enchanting shadow of the adjacent Palace”.  – Ignace Lecleir, Founder and Owner of TRB Hospitality Group

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Stepping up into TRB Forbidden City

TRB Forbidden City's Main Dining Area

A tall Wine Cabinet serves as an appropriate backdrop for the Dining Room

TRB Forbidden City'

The interior has been designed in similar style with the original TRB

2017 has been a busy year for unstoppable and unnaturally graceful Ignace and his team! The TRB group has not only unveiled a new design and concept for the glamorous and elegant TRB Forbidden City, which in turn raises the dining standards of Beijing (again), they have a star line-up of talented guest chefs who remind us what is possible in other parts of the world.

If you haven’t been to one of these week long extravaganzas, you are in luck because TRB Forbidden City is currently hosting Chef Koen Verjans who is putting on a masterclass. Hailing from Flanders in Belgium, Chef Koen has trained among the world’s best at Oud Sluis (3 Michelin-star), De Librije (3 Michelin-star) and ‘t Zilte (2 Michelin-star) before presenting his own interpretation on gastronomy in his very own Restaurant Innesto, which was awarded the honor of 1 Michelin star in 2017.

“When it comes to his style of cooking, Chef Koen always chooses top products and prepares light dishes with great attention for a correct acid balance, flavour cohesion, intensity and elegance. Besides striking the perfect harmony in tastes, he also employs the essence of both classic and contemporary cuisines and combines the two into surprisingly light, but complex, dishes.” 

In Asia for the first time, Chef Koen arrived bright and early at 6AM on Monday and has been non-stop visiting markets and finding new produce to work with. Having launched his dinner menu last night, be quick to catch Chef Koen while he’s in town this week for the few days he will be taking over the kitchen of TRB Forbidden City.

Chef Koen will be serving a 4-course Lunch menu for RMB 588 available Thursday, July 6th until Sunday, July 9th and his 5-course Dinner Menu with Wine Pairing for RMB 888 is also available until Sunday, July 9th.

As I wanted to be among the very first to taste his menu so that I could spread the word, I booked a table for two on their opening night.

TRB Forbidden City's Guest Chef Koen Verjans: Starters

To start, we were greeted with a trio of bites that started with a marshmallow covered in Parmesan cheese, a tomato jelly with exploding flavors and a puff cracker with anchovy mousse.  Do not under-estimate that anchovy mousse – while it may only appear as a droplet, it is intense and was a nice wake-up call on my taste buds to prepare them for everything to follow!

TRB Forbidden City's Guest Chef Koen Verjans: Lobster, Tomato, Basil

First Course: Lobster, Tomato, Basil

Our first course of lobster with tomato and basil is a beautiful one-two combination of sweet and acid. The basil calms the acidic tomato down and the Riesling wine pair only enhances the profile further.

TRB Forbidden City's Guest Chef Koen Verjans: Cod, Green Asparagus, Young Spinach, Lemon Verbena

Second Course: Cod, Green Asparagus, Young Spinach, Lemon Verbena

The second wine has one of the most amazing aromas I have ever had the pleasure of smelling. A bouquet of elderflower, passionfruit and other fluttering fruity aromas, I have to admit that my nostrils were probably more impressed than my taste buds, but a lovely and refreshing white wine. Less sharp in taste, it didn’t overwhelm the more delicate cod that is accompanied by some perfectly cooked spinach and asparagus and pureed avocado that will make you wonder if it is possible to make guacamole taste like that. #lifegoals

TRB Forbidden City's Guest Chef Koen Verjans: Scallop, Artichoke, Broad Beans, Parmesan Cheese

Third Course: Scallop, Artichoke, Broad Beans, Parmesan Cheese

The scallop course was the highlight of the evening. Tucked under a crispy Parmesan crisp are three tender scallops alongside some broad beans which are bathed in an addictive parmesan sauce. I used all the remaining bread at the table to mop up every last drop. Not only am I not ashamed to have literally wiped this plate clean, I suggest you follow in suit!

TRB Forbidden City's Guest Chef Koen Verjans: Wagyu, Aubergine, Potato, Onions

Fourth Course: Wagyu, Aubergine, Potato, Onion

For the last savoury course of the menu, Koen has brought out the big guns with some Wagyu beef that has a nice peppery fire to it. This is what red Bodegas Roda Sela wine is made for! I have no idea how he made potato as light and crispy as puffed rice and glimmer like gold, but it provided a crunch to a dish that otherwise would have been very tender.

TRB Forbidden City's Guest Chef Koen Verjans: Passionfruit, Tonka Beans, Chocolate, Coffee

Dessert: Passionfruit, Tonka Beans, Chocolate, Coffee

Finally, the dessert is a boon for chocaholics. Dark chocolate mousse, with a passion fruit sauce, coffee meringue and tonka bean ice cream. My one criticism is that the ice cream seemed to exist purely for the cold contrast as the taste simply can’t compete with the other flavours on the plate. The chocolate, coffee and passionfruit jostle robustly in your mouth, the tonka beans meekly submit in the face of this onslaught. Note that this doesn’t make the dessert a failure! On the contrary, it was gorgeous and a strong finish for a marathon of a meal!

With only a few meals left before Chef Koen returns to Belgium, this is a wonderful excuse to impress a fellow foodie and an ideal excuse to pay your respects to a company that has done so much to raise the dining standards in this city!

Stay tuned for more information on the upcoming guest chefs still to come. With 20+ guest chefs already scheduled in 2017, TRB is really going to be non-stop on our can’t-miss-food-radar all year long!

Guest Chef Koen Verjans at TRB Forbidden city:

  • Dates: Wednesday, July 5 – Sunday, July 9th
  • Lunch (RMB 588 per person for 4-courses) & Dinner Menu (RMB 888 per person for 5-course wine pairing)
  • Address: 95 Donghuamen Dajie, East Gate of the Forbidden City
  • Chinese Address: 东华门大街95号 (故宫东门)
  • Tel: +8610 6401 6676
  • Opening Hours: Open Every Day (Starting Sept 28), 11:30AM-10:30PM
  • Email: forbidden@trb-cn.com
  • Website: http://www.trb-forbiddencity.com/

About Kristen
Kristen Lum has an accomplished background in PR, communications and events in China. Born and raised in California, Kristen has been based in Beijing since 2006 and is founder of the lifestyle blog called LumDimSum, covering mostly restaurant news and reviews alongside upcoming events around town that relate to Beijing’s muti-faceted, quickly-developing creative industries like art, music, film, health and fitness, fashion, nightlife, charity events, and travel tips.

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