A unique dining experience has opened in the heart of the Baltic Triangle, offering guests the chance to taste authentic Tianjin food with a modern twist.
The concept behind Lu Ban Restaurant has been shaped by the Chinese Government’s focus on vocational education in the hospitality industry. The Lu Ban offers a bespoke education scheme which aims to train 100 chefs every year. The restaurant and international training school concept is a result of a collaboration between the Tianjin Food Group, British Lu Ban Workshop and the Tianjin School of commerce who have invested over £2m into the project.
The proprietors of Lu Ban Restaurant have secured the rights to deliver vocational education in the UK through their commercial restaurants. Mike Mounfield, Managing Director of Lu Ban explained:
‘In every single space there’s education, it’s a restaurant with a training centre integrated into it. Every dish on the menu has a story – our team went to China as part of the project so we’ve taken our experiences from original Tianjin restaurants. Even the décor of the restaurant has taken influence and inspiration from the kitchens and architecture featured in Tianjin’.
There are many similarities between Liverpool and Tianjin: both are cities that have been shaped by immigrants who have contributed so much – not least the food culture!
The background of Lu Ban’s name is an interesting tale. Lu Ban was a carpenter from the 5th century BC who invented many household objects such as the saw and lock. His philosophy was to complete everything to the best of his ability, which has formed the basis of Chinese teachings for many years.
As Lu Ban has education at the heart of its dining experience each section of the restaurant allows guests to educate themselves on Tianjin culture. The team behind the restaurant have written a Level 2, 3 and 4 Chinese culinary arts programme which is recognised by the national education framework. Students can enrol on the course and learn through a mixture of webinars, demonstrations at the Chef’s table and eventually be assessed in the workplace.
The in-built Food Lab is where dishes sent by Tianjin Master Chefs can be taste-tested. Two scholars who are sponsored by the famous food writer, Ching, conduct their research from the Food Lab. Guests can also book an evening in the Food Lab for an immersive dining experience with many delicious plates to try. If guests would prefer something other than the Food Lab or restaurant, they can book into the Tianjin private dining room. This idea is to replicate an authentic Tianjin dining experience, whereby the dishes are served in a traditional way.
Guests can dine and drink in the Wine Room, which also doubles up as a Tea Ceremony Room and sample wines from the world’s best vineyards. Janet Wang, an international wine guru will be running a wine education programme for guests to participate in. Everyone of all abilities and knowledge can come along to be tutored by Janet Wang.
David Hughes, Commercial Director of Lu Ban, discussed the process behind choosing the restaurant’s location: ‘We visited four locations in the city, the final location we visited was this location in Cains Brewery Village (previously the Red Brick Market) and instantly loved it. When we took our guests round from China, they started touching the walls saying it felt like home. Due to the architecture and design of the building, they became attached to it.
This was brilliant for us as this venue was our favourite out of the four. I know that the Baltic Triangle is going to be as prosperous as the Albert Dock. But without doing any of the other vendors in the district as disservice the area needed something like a commercial restaurant to help the area to continue to develop. Our aim is to be long-established before even more people recognise how amazing this area is.’