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Ex Yummy Yummy gets a new face at Bellissima in Zengcuoan

Updated: 20 Sep 2012
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Bellissima Restaurant and Café is located on the main street of Zencuoan village, just a few minutes’ walk from the bus stop on Huandao Lu.

 

Zengcuoan’s transformation from sleepy fishing village into one of the most trendy and popular spots in Xiamen has been well documented, and in recent times the area has seen dozens of new hostels, bars and restaurants open. Amongst these is Bellissima Restaurant and Café, which opened just three months ago. While new, the venue employs the same chef and manager as the popular Yummy Yummy restaurant, which closed two years ago when its owner left the country. Given that it also offers almost exactly the same menu, old Xiamenites can view it as a rebirth of an old favorite, while more recent arrivals, such as myself, should be reassured of the restaurant’s pedigree.

 

 

 

The restaurant is located on the main street of Zencuoan village, just a few minutes’ walk from the bus stop on Huandao Lu. Zengcuoan’s huge number of tiny winding alleys makes this is a definite plus, as it’s so easy to get lost (really, really lost if you’re anything like me!) when trying to find somewhere a little bit off the beaten track. The restaurant is also easily recognizable from its distinctive bamboo fence, which snakes around the entirety of the outside pavilion, far more pleasant than the more common brick/concrete monstrosities with their broken glass crowns. The fence also acts to ensconce the restaurant away from the increasingly frenetic flow of human traffic outside. The décor and atmosphere of the venue is very much in keeping with the Zengcuoan vibe, it’s a laidback fusion of different influences domestic and international with thoughtful and quirky little touches everywhere. The eating area outside explodes with flowers and greenery, while hookah pipes are on hand for those who enjoy Shisha, along with a snooker table (easily converted into a ping pong table if that’s more your bag). With all these things combined, the place genuinely feels more like someone’s opened their home up to friends than a formal place of business. Bellissima is run in a way that totally complements this, given that closing time is whenever the last people drift away and it’s not uncommon for guests who get too tired to spend the night!

 

   

Bellissima offers café-worthy selections of coffee and tea, many different fruit juices, smoothies, milkshakes and has a red and white wine selection well stocked with foreign favorites from France and Italy. Many popular cocktails and beers are also on offer.

 

The service at the restaurant was excellent. One of the main reasons for this is the manager, who speaks fluent English (useful when I speak no Chinese!), has many years of restaurant management experience and spent the evening flitting between tables waiting on and chatting with customers. Extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic about food and drink, and keen to help tailor the meal to our specific needs even so far as offering dishes that didn’t appear on the menu, she bridged the difference between just another night out and something special. The other waiting staff were also very capable and accommodating, for instance placing mosquito incense under the table when I was spotted swatting! In keeping with the surroundings, service was laid back and friendly but never strayed anywhere near unprofessional or sloppy, and I couldn’t find fault anywhere, even over a long evening.

Bellissima offers café-worthy selections of coffee and tea, many different fruit juices, smoothies, milkshakes and has a red and white wine selection well stocked with foreign favorites from France and Italy. Many popular cocktails and beers are also on offer. Throwing calorie-caution into the wind, I decided to try my first ever peanut smoothie. It was delicious and surprisingly refreshing. Meanwhile, my partner much more wisely chose the herb tea, an interesting creation which came with at least 5 different types of herbs visible and which smelled and tasted delicious, too, even though I never drink tea.

 

 

Sirloin steak

 

 

Lamb chop (L) and grilled fish fillet

 

 When it came time to eat, the menu unsurprisingly offered the main staple favorites you’d expect on a Mediterranean menu (you won’t be wanting for salad, pasta, pizza or steak), along with a few more exotic items such as kebabs. That said, it’s definitely a minimalist menu, for instance unlike the majority of restaurants there are just three standard options for pizza. The chef offers free reign to design your own pizza, however, and the manager informed us that the chef’s repertoire extends to many dishes not on the menu. Middle-eastern food, including hummus and falafels, was said to be a particular specialty. On the night, we enjoyed Garlic bread as a starter, a Basil Pizza, Garlic Prawns with rice and Homemade beef lasagne with salad for mains, and Tiramisu for dessert. Two things struck me about the food. Firstly, the portion sizes. From the garlic bread, six large slices, to the prawns, abundant on top of a small mountain of rice, to the lasagna, a very big and thick slab, to the tiramisu, which was the biggest I’ve ever been presented with. As a big eater (less euphemistically speaking, glutton), it’s very unusual to go to a “western” restaurant and find myself remotely satisfied with the portion sizes, but I was pleasantly surprised by Bellissima. The second striking thing was in the homely, in all the positive senses of the word, nature of the dishes. Where so often I find foreign restaurants serve up pretentious, overcomplicated or plainly misguided dishes, Bellissima offered time-tested dishes, cooked to perfection with strong and authentic flavours. The manager explained that the ingredients were wherever possible fresh and locally bought and only olive oil was used in their kitchen, and the food testified to both points. Obviously, quite apart from anything else, these things make the food served at Bellissima much healthier than in many other places. As for the specifics, the garlic bread was delicious, thin (not 3 times too thick as it usually is in China!), cooked to crisp but not black and soaked in garlic butter. The lasagna was several layers of heaven, authentic as any I’ve ever had anywhere and generous with both the cheese and the meat. The garlic prawns, freshly caught and bought that day from the local market and never frozen, were large and delicious, and there must have been more than twenty of them! As a garlic fiend the dish left me far from wanting, and the flavorsome rice with angel hair pasta was a great accompaniment. The Italian-style basil pizza was also superbly done, the basil and mozzarella flavors doing the talking without the need for an abundance of toppings, and despite being someone who would usually go for a thicker based pizza in the American style and loaded with toppings, I think the pizza held its own against the best of the competition in Xiamen. The tiramisu maintained the same delicious high quality seen before, and despite the fact that by the time it was served I was long-since sated, prompted me to polish it off.

 

  

Pastas:  Margarita pizza, beef lasagne and chicken risotto

 

Bellissima is a fantastic new addition to the area, and indeed to Xiamen. It offers delicious, healthy and generous dishes at reasonable prices. Complementing the food is a great range of drinks also priced not to blow the bank. Bellissima manages to cultivate a very welcoming and laid-back atmosphere totally in step with the trendy surroundings, but the quality of service is never in question. I would wholeheartedly recommend a visit to Bellissima next time you need to scratch the Zengcuoan itch or are looking for some quality Mediterranean fare.

 

Wox Buddy Card holders can enjoy 10% off at Bellissima Restaurant and Café

 

Bellissima Restaurant & Cafe (贝丽西蒙咖啡屋)

Address: 15# Zengcuoan, Huandao Road, Siming District, Xiamen
Chinese Address: 厦门市思明区环岛路曾厝安15号
Tel: 0592-2086121

 

 

 

SOURCE: WOX Food

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kim1113 Commented on 01 Feb 2013
I had dinner here yesterday. Same feeling like Yummy Yummy....... Cafe,cake,salad,chicken and "Bong Bread"....OH,My God! Amazing.....Will come again with friends very soon...
Thanks for nice service here..
sanmu Commented on 30 Jan 2013
i had breakfast with my friends at bellissima restaurant this morning.we oreded the omelette and english breakfast which was good and they sent free coffee and grey tea.the price is super affordable...anyway i will try the pizza there
gabe Commented on 24 Oct 2012
I had dinner here today with a guest. AWESOME! I loved it! Service was superb. They treated us like kings. Food was delicious. I was originally planning going to Havana, which I like, but it is too far away from my place and decided giving a try to Bellissima... wise decision! Can't wait to come back. :)
  

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