Alvaro Rautenberg, the general manager of Kempinski Hotel's Taiyuan branch, works in the Paulana restaurant of the hotel in Taiyuan, north China's Shanxi Province, Sept. 14, 2023.(Xinhua/Chen Zhihao)
TAIYUAN, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- As the sun set on a warm evening in Taiyuan, the capital of north China's Shanxi Province, a popular German restaurant nestled in the heart of the bustling city became an irresistible attraction for diners.
Here, amidst the ancient surroundings, the aroma of authentic German sausages mingles with the invigorating taste of German beer, creating a delightful experience for all foodies.
The restaurant, Paulana, is part of the Kempinski Hotel in Taiyuan.
"The Kempinski Hotel is known for its authentic German cuisine," said Alvaro Rautenberg, the general manager of the hotel's Taiyuan branch. Rautenberg hails from Germany and has lived and worked in China for nearly 25 years.
"Chinese and German cuisine have their own unique qualities. I love spicy Chinese dishes, and at the same time, I hope that Chinese people will come and taste our German cuisine," he said.
The growing popularity of German restaurants in Shanxi has exceeded Rautenberg's expectations. He finds it particularly surprising given that the local people in the province predominantly enjoy sliced noodles and have always been less inclined to foreign delicacies.
Rautenberg said that in order to preserve the authentic flavors of German cuisine while catering to the preferences of Chinese diners, they have introduced some dishes that Chinese people love, all without changing the traditional cooking techniques.
Kempinski Hotel Group has been operating in China for more than 30 years, with branches spread across cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Fuzhou and Taiyuan. According to Rautenberg, this enduring presence has helped promote German cuisine in China. "In our restaurant, the most popular items are German sausages, hamburgers and beer."
According to an official of the China Hotel Association, Western restaurants, including German ones, were initially seen in major Chinese cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, but with China's opening up and deepening exchanges with the world, such restaurants have expanded across the nation.
Chinese diners have developed a strong affinity for German cuisine, as evidenced by a 95.5 percent positive comment rate of the German restaurant on the online service platform Meituan Dianping.
"The German-style roasted crispy pork knuckle is unforgettable, and the German malt draft beer is simply amazing. The German restaurant is definitely worth a try!" A Chinese customer said in the restaurant's comment column.
The popularity of German cuisine in China reflects the broader trend of the popularity of Western food in the country. With Chinese diners increasingly embracing exotic flavors, Western cuisine has firmly established itself in the Chinese culinary landscape.
Culinary exchange initiatives have also furthered cultural interactions between China and the West, and Chinese diners have had the opportunity to gain deeper insights into Western culture.
The China Hotel Association established the China Hotel Association Western Food Leisure Dining Professional Committee in 2014 and has jointly held the China (Harbin) International Western Food Culture Festival with the local government in Harbin for several consecutive years.
The eighth edition of this festival was held this August in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. ■