Oriental cuisine has long been known and loved, not only in Asia, but also in all parts of Europe. Gourmets appreciate it for its rich taste, unexpected contrasts and combinations and its exquisite and subtle flavour. All dishes are incredibly attractive, excite and whet the appetite.
In addition, oriental cuisine is very healthy, as cooks prefer to bake, boil and stew it. There are practically no fried or fatty dishes in oriental cuisine. Finally, its preparation is a creative process that is a pleasure to watch.
All of this can now be experienced without leaving the historic centre of Andorra. The new restaurant, Xīnkǔ, as its owner, Josep Ramos says, “is able to surprise customers with both the presentation of dishes and their quality.”
Interview: Irina Rybalchenko
Why “Xīnkǔ by Versailles”? In Andorra, there was a restaurant called “Versailles,” which was famous for the gastronomic quality of its French cuisine. Why this change? Is it a fashion, a trend or a new passion?
Yes, changes in life are good. One day, there comes a moment when you must see if you like everything you do. We decided to create Xīnkǔ in the spirit of development and offer our audience something very different. At the same time, we continue to be attentive to the quality of the products we use and to find details in oriental dishes that can surprise our guests, both in their presentation and flavours. You could say that it was our passion for cooking and creativity that led us to open Xīnkǔ.
Do you think oriental cuisine is a trend in Europe because it is considered healthier?
Oriental cuisine, like many others, has been present in Europe for many years. We have been cooking oriental cuisine for quite some time now, and our customers are quite capable of distinguishing among the different types of foods surrounding us.
Oriental cuisine is as healthy as Mediterranean or Arabic cuisine. Only the products and the dishes are different.
What is the main difference between Mediterranean and oriental cuisine?
For them, the basis is rice; for us, it is legumes and truffles. Meat is very similar: chicken, beef, pork, fish, etc. (with a few cultural exceptions).
Name your favourite specialities – what are their characteristics? What are the most unusual flavour combinations?
Try our pork in caramel, which has an incredible creamy texture and is served with flavoursome rice that makes you speechless! Nowadays, we try to prepare new dishes with traditional Chinese ingredients; the rest are classics.
What else are you able to surprise your customers with?
We will surprise our visitors with the personality of the place, its charming decor with modern and classic elements. A great combination of styles was created by us and our decorator.
Do your clients always understand what you offer them, or do they constantly need explanations?
Our clients are already familiar with Chinese cuisine, and who, when they come to the restaurant, just ask what makes us different from other oriental restaurants. In addition, they also always find what they want and they often order something new, prepared with the freshest ingredients, to enjoy a new flavour. Everything is constantly evolving; for example, it used to be very difficult to find truffle dishes in Chinese cuisine. Now, truffle dishes are a classic in Xīnkǔ and are in high demand.
Asian cuisine is evolving. We see an increasing number of Asian restaurants in Europe. Do you think that the internationalisation of culinary tastes is changing our understanding of gastronomy?
This was all decades ago. Unfortunately, for Chinese restaurants, the pandemic forced many to close. Now, we are returning to this gastronomic sphere to show that Chinese cuisine is reviving and is capable of giving everyone gastronomic pleasure.
All the cuisines of the world have their differences and their roots. For example, rice is of oriental origin and is said to come from India. However, it was the Chinese who started its mass cultivation. What about paella or the rice dish “arròs tres delícies” These are two completely different types of cuisine based on the same basic product.
What gastronomic elements of Eastern cuisine do you think we Europeans should adopt and why? Why do Easterners live longer than Europeans? Is it really because of food?
They say that Andorra is one of the countries in Europe where people live longer than others. Medicine will do the rest (laughing). I tell all my customers that we now have a new Chinese restaurant in Andorra la Vella.
Consider us the benchmark among the Bordes that exist in Andorra, such as “L’era d’en Jaume” in Llorts (*Borda is a type of restaurant usually housed in an old stone building where domestic animals used to live; Bordes also served as lodging for strangers travelling through Andorra).
This is where our passion for the cookery business began. We have a lot of practice as chefs, working in the kitchens of other restaurants and hotels. Now, we prefer to work with young people from famous Chinese restaurants. That’s why we opened Xīnkǔ. This word means thanking people for their efforts and desire to create, finally, wonderful gastronomic dishes.