Wednesday, April 23, 2008

5th Annual That’s Beijing Reader Restaurant Awards 2008

5th Annual That’s Beijing Reader Restaurant Awards 2008

Having only been open four months, SALT’s Best Restaurant (non-Chinese) win at this year’s That’s Beijing Reader Restaurant Awards was all the more sweet for owner Gabby Alves and head chef Daniel Urdaneta. The team have managed to develop the restaurant, situated in an area beyond the 4th Ring Road, into a now widely known name that not only picked up best restaurant award but also bagged Best Service and Best Contemporary Cuisine.

The 5th annual awards were held at CJW, The Place and saw many big names from Beijing’s Restaurant scene in attendance. Those attending included die-hard restaurant goers and professionals from the industry such as Cho Chong Gee of Bed Bar and the team at Alameda, last year’s successful winners of the Best Restaurant award. Between the presentation of awards guests sipped San Pellegrino, Jebsen fine wines and Stella Artois beer in the stylish surroundings.

Hosted by Michael Wester of True Run media and the managing editor of That’s Beijing, Oliver Robinson. The awards were in 26 Categories for which 145 restaurants were nominated by an eclectic mix of unaffiliated chefs, restaurant folk and everyday diners. Voting was conducted online through the That’s Beijing website.

These awards are unusual because winners are chosen by normal restaurant goers and not by food critics or writers. According to Michael Wester, Beijing’s expats eat out almost every night of the month and have a real interest in knowing where the best places to grab a bit are. Daniel Urdaneta head chef at Salt, believes these awards are very important because they give an indication of how popular the restaurant is in the eyes of its patrons. For SALT, who picked up the Best Restaurant and Best Service award, they are obviously having no trouble making an impression.

For Gabby Alves, owner of SALT, this win was particularly gratifying, having sold her share in Alameda earlier this year, Gabby was delighted to have brought her great skills to fruition at SALT. After a prestigious career in the hospitality industry that has taken her to South America and Europe, Gabby has found her way to Beijing where she has proven with Alameda and now SALT, that she is here to make a real impact on the relatively new contemporary cuisine scene.

SALT’s menu is of contemporary European style and the restaurant provides a minimalist atmosphere centred around the open kitchen, allowing patrons to feel like they are right in amongst the action.

When asked where SALT’s success lay, Chef Urdaneta maintains, with a hint of modesty, that the secret is hard work. Known to have worked through the night at SALT in the early days, he has certainly put long hours into developing his staff and kitchen to a high standard. The Venezuelan born Urdaneta, works with a staff of

Chinese sous chefs who were unfamiliar with the contemporary cuisine at SALT until taught by their head chef. Urdaneta compares this to teaching a science where chemistry, physics and soul are all involved and his dedicated staff have certainly made a success of their education.

Now the bar has been set high for SALT and, as owner and head chef acknowledge, the real hard work begins to keep SALT at the top of its game.


Best Beijing Duck
Da Dong

Best Contemporary CuisineSALT

Best JapaneseHatsune

Best French Le Pre Lenotre, Sofitel Wanda

Best Taiwanese Bellagio

Best Brunch Grandma’s Kitchen

Best Sichuan South Beauty

Best Pizza The Tree

Best Cantonese Crystal Jade Palace

Best Business Lunch Alameda

Best Vegetarian Pure Lotus

Best Indian
Taj Pavilion

Best Steak

Best Place for a Romantic Dinner
The Courtyard

Best Service

Best Value

South East Asian
Purple Haze

Best Restaurant of the Year (Chinese)
Da Dong

Best Restaurant of the Year (non-Chinese)

Sponsored By

Jebsen Fine Wines
Beijing Devils
Pantry Magic
Renewal Spa Club
San Pellegrino
Stella Artois

All winners received a $500 Voucher from Pantry Magic