With restaurants popping up all around Wuyuan Lu, it’s hard to choose where to go. That is, until a three-story mansion touting the name “Foreplay” opens.
A beautifully restored lane house with a spiral staircase at its center, Foreplay is impressive to take in. Make your way through the outdoor patio and you’ll find each floor outfitted with exposed brick, leather couches and exposed wooden beams. It feels like dining in someone’s home—someone’s insanely elaborate home, whom you’ve sucked up to for months and finally scored an invite.
From the name, you’d expect to be met with tasting or “teaser” menus. The tapas options come close, but with options ranging from fried calamari and French fries to Mexican nachos and potato salad, it’s more tease than tapas. The Antipasti for One (RMB78), a hodgepodge of Mediterranean flavors, includes tasty house smoked salmon and prosciutto, but also mayonnaise-laden tuna salad. Other appetizers include a variety of salads and stewed mussels.
The pasta and risotto course is a bit more exciting, with the perfectly al dente Classic Italian Style Bolognese Tagliatelle (RMB68). The Chef’s Special Mediterranean Seafood Risotto (RMB88) is another comforting option, even while lacking the creaminess typically associated with risotto.
Where Foreplay really shines is its main courses, with three different types of Australian steak on offer. It’s safe to say the expertly grilled and well-seasoned 230g Grain-Fed Sirloin Steak (RMB198) will be the climax of your meal. It’s served with arugula salad and a clove of roasted garlic.
Another highlight is the extensive drink list—with unique options on offer like the Good Morning Shanghai (RMB80), a somehow delicious concoction of gin, soymilk, lemon juice, cassis liqueur, passion fruit syrup and black sesame seeds. The Smurfs Garden (RMB80) is also intriguing, mixing fruit brandy with rose and grapefruit liqueurs, topped with egg white. Unfortunately, when we visited, it was accidentally swapped for the fruit punch-like Peach Passion (RMB80). Maybe next time.
For dessert, we went with the Chocolate Lava Cake (RMB48) and it was just as decadent and sinful as we’d hoped.
With its intimate space, beautiful décor and attentive wait staff, Foreplay has a lot going for it. However, with wait times pushing 40 minutes (there were several large parties on a Saturday night), there are still some kinks to work out. But in the meantime, make a reservation, pack a snack, and enjoy the unique dining experience.
Address: 137 Wuyuan Lu (near Wulumuqi Zhong Lu), 五原路137号近乌鲁木齐中路
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