Sunday, January 22, 2006


When I lived in Shanghai in 2000, I came across this artist's shop, Liuli Gongfang (琉璃工房), that sold contemporary Chinese glassware produced according to archaic Chinese techniques. The pieces were expensive, but very beautiful, and I got a few small souvenirs plus a nice gift for my sister.

Six years later, in Beijing, while wandering around Oriental Plaza (东方新天地), a huge mall, we came across a beautiful and fancy Liuli Gongfang shop there! Frankly, it's been one of the few times when I've had to exercise special self-control and not spend beyond my means, as the glassware sold was superb and truly gorgeous.

And that encounter put Liuli Gongfang back in my mind. I mean, we probably visited that shop every single time we went to the mall, just to look. So anyhow, when I caught sight of an ad announcing the opening of a TMSK restaurant - a restaurant where only Liuli Gongfang glass was used!!! - I could not resist and booked a table the minute I could!

The place was very intimate. Which made it a bit uncomfortable since we had the unwise idea of inviting two friends with us, one of which has a penchant for saying incredibly inappropriate and sexual things in the loudest of voices... Ah, well, maybe that made this night easier to remember?

Whatever, the place was intimate, the place was beautiful, and even the washroom had a Liuli Gongfang piece for you to wash your hands in! With water dripping from glass stalactites into a translucent bowl with delicate plant figures all around...   (forgive the quality, I took these with my phone, which had the most basic of cameras) 

The food was good. But funnily, with such amazing dinnerware, nothing but absolutely incredible food could match the place. Whose name I was forgetting to explain, of course! TMSK is short for Touming Sikao (透明思考), or Transparent Thought. Normally you'd think this is too kitschy a name. But in this case, it fits like a glove. And the idea of reviving old Chinese techniques and applying that to everyday objects? Loved it!