The stir-fried sliced steak was a typical northern dish. | Andrew Valente


Londoners experienced their first taste of north Chinese food some 60 years ago when a diplomat from the Chinese Embassy called Kuo Tak Luke absconded and sought asylum. He eventually opened a restaurant in Willesden High Road that was considered the best in London.

Palmesanos experienced their first Chinese restaurant specialising in the cooking of the north when the Hemudu in Calle Rubén Dario opened two weeks ago — so we’ve waited a good deal longer to experience an authentic north China restaurant. Anyone who knows genuine Chinese cooking cannot fail to say the wait was worth it.

Hemudu is one of Palma’s few classy Chinese restaurants. It has walls that wouldn’t be out of place hanging as paintings in a contemporary art gallery. There’s nicely laid tables, stylish crockery, quality forks and spoons galore for serving the food, and something I’ve never experienced before in a Palma Chinese restaurant: the dining room staff speak fluent Spanish, with the head waiter using Mallorquín words and phrases with customers who obviously live locally.

Hemudu not only serves real north Chinese food it also comes at most reasonable prices. I didn’t expect them to be as low as this. Only fish and meat dishes are dearish and even then they cost the same as in any restaurant as elegant as this. The menu is not a long one and a mere glance is enough to spot some typical north China dishes. There’s Peking duck, the most famous dish from that area, as well as another crispy duck dish.

It gets extremely cold in north China during the winter (-20C is normal for Peking) so northern cuisine features comforting meat dishes that are slowly cooked until deliciously tender.

I’ll be trying Hemudu’s braised oxtail as soon as it’s cold enough to wear my duffle coat. And I’ll start the meal with hot and sour soup, Peking’s most popular starter when the temperature plunges.

But on this first visit we decided to have the €18.80 menú del día that is served from Monday to Friday. It is tremendous value for money and with the most generous portions I have ever had in any kind of menú del día at this price. It’s a real bargain and worth every centimo, even although one dish didn’t get a pass mark.

I always order spring rolls at Chinese restaurants because if the cooks take care of them you can expect other top quality dishes.

Hemudu’s spring rolls were among the best I’ve ever had, including those in London’s Chinatown. The wrap was crunchy and so delish I didn’t even try the dip that came with them. Rolls as good as this don’t need any help from a sauce.

The Verdict

This was certainly one of the best Chinese meals I’ve ever had. The spring rolls, so simple and basic, were incredibly crunchy and tasty and I gave them an immediate 10. We had big prawns in two dishes and the flesh was beautifully terse, a real joy to eat because the cooking times were spot on. The portions of the stir-fried chicken and meat dishes were more than generous — lots of the main ingredients and not bulked with veggies. The fried rice, though, wasn’t in the same class as the other dishes. There are a thousand ways of doing Chinese fried rice — they should choose any of the other 999.

The Place

Restaurant Hemudu, Calle Ruben Dario 1, Palma, a continuation of Calle Bonaire which is off Avda Jaime III. Tel:971-327902. Closed on Tuesdays. They do an €18.80 menú del día from Monday to Friday only. It includes starters, side dishes such as noodles and rice, fish and meat dishes as mains, dessert and a drink including a glass of wine or a caña. It’s best to reserve a table, even for lunch on weekdays.

The Bill

The menú del día costs 18.80 € and as we didn’t have any extra drinks the bill came to 37.60 €. It’s a very good buy. Don’t miss it.