iChina is a one-of-a-kind Chinese dining concept in Silicon Valley’s upscale shopping destination, Westfield Valley Fair. With a kitchen helmed by Hong Kong native Executive Chef Eddie Lam, the menu highlights the eight culinary regions of China, along with the flavors and ingredients of various provinces, using modernized cooking techniques.
According to the iChina team, iChina means “love China” – a name that reflects a passion for Chinese cuisine, heritage and culture. The restaurant was founded in the hopes of changing the way people eat Chinese food by broadening the scope of what has been traditionally expected and serving not only unique dishes and flavors but producing them in a thoughtful and elegant manner with modern interpretations.
iChina is truly a dining destination, housing four distinct, stunningly designed dining options for guests including: the JiuBa Cocktail Lounge, a full-service dining room, tea ceremony, and four exclusive private dining areas. Not to mention this is home to VR Realm, Silicon Valley’s first virtual reality dining room.
The entire restaurant and culinary concept is immaculately designed and inspired by China’s ancient imperial palaces. It’s a sight to see, even without having a full, sit down meal. The restaurant exudes elegance in every design detail, from the lofty ceilings and grand lighting fixtures to the turquoise blue leather walls and crystal pillars.
An Art Deco design aesthetic with clean lines and geometric shapes paired with nods to Chinese tradition and culture with a regal color scheme of blues, golds and reds, and detailed lanterns in the form of ancient Chinese architectural buildings.
From the cooking styles of various regions in China to using Indian spices on certain dishes, guests are in for a culinary adventure as they explore the seasonally changing menu that showcases multicultural influences in each dish.
For example on their current Spring Menu, the third course includes a pan seared true Baja Striped Bass prepared in an American style with finesse to maximize its distinctive flavors. Diners can also enjoy Pork Jowl Claypot Style Rice, which was created from a sense of nostalgia for the traditional Chinese dish.
We chatted with the iChina team to talk about VR Realm, the unique bar experience at JiuBa, their current menu and cuisine and more. Here’s what they had to say.
How does iChina stand out from other restaurants in Silicon Valley / the bay area? What kind of experience can you get at the restaurant that you may not be able to get elsewhere?
iChina is inspired by its location in the heart of Silicon Valley, where innovation is prominently ingrained in the local culture. Executive Chef Eddie Lam and his team celebrate that innovation by utilizing modern techniques in its food and beverage offerings, as well as its futuristic virtual reality private dining room. iChina offers four distinct dining options for guests: The JiuBa cocktail lounge on the first floor, a full-service dining room on the second floor, the tea ceremony and four exclusive private dining spaces, including VR Realm.
VR Realm, Silicon Valley’s first virtual reality dining room, allows iChina to incorporate visual and auditory components to a fine dining meal, which makes for a memorable dinner and places the experience at the intersection of food and entertainment.
Thoughtful details make the experience especially magical as private parties can select from one of the restaurants stunning themes, including an ethereal bamboo forest, a pond, a cherry blossom garden, a mosaic wall, and a water lantern festival, and become immersed in a mesmerizing dining experience that guests can not get elsewhere in the Silicon Valley.
Can you share with us your inspiration for the various dishes in the latest spring dinner menu?
The spring prix-fixe menu is designed as a homage to China’s eight culinary regions, incorporating flavors from different provinces while also modernizing the approach with techniques borrowed from our international culinary experience. Our culinary concept of ‘New American Chinese’ aims to bridge East and West in a seamless, elegant manner stepped in both tradition and innovation, offering creative reinterpretations that wow our guests.
An example of my favorite dish is the Pork Jowl Claypot Style Rice, which was inspired by a sense of nostalgia from my upbringings. In addition to our spring prix-fixe menu, our vegetarian prix-fixe menu mirrors many of the spring dishes. Our team and I approached each variation with intention and creativity with thoughtful sourcing including local organic produce. Many of the flavors in the vegetarian menu, including Zha Jiang Mian and Claypot Style Mushroom Rice, were also inspired by the flavors of my childhood.
Can you tell us more about the inspiration for iChina’s interior design?
The iChina experience begins the moment guests walk through the door as they are transported to an environment of beauty and grandeur with rich textiles, a dazzling color palette and fine craftmanship. The interior design of iChina is influenced by the painting “A Thousand Miles of Rivers and Mountains”, gifted to Emperor Huizong of the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) by the renowned court painter, Wang XiMeng.
The esteemed design team, HHD Hong Kong Easter Holiday International Design led by Mr. Zhongxuan Hong, reinterpreted Wang XiMeng’s use of high-quality materials and unique shades of jade and gold into a modern yet traditionally influenced dining destination. The 9,600-square-foot second-floor dining room offers a stunning yet inviting space perfect for everyday gatherings and meals to remember.
Talk about what your hopes are for the restaurant, and what you wish diners to walk away with?
We created iChina with the hope of changing the way people eat Chinese food by broadening the scope of what has been traditionally expected and serving not only unique dishes and flavors but producing them in a thoughtful and elegant manner.
In the future, we hope to grow iChina into a place of cultural exchange where people can come to experience and learn Chinese traditions and arts from masters of their crafts such as tea ceremony, culinary lessons, and more.
Can you tell us about the bar experience at iChina?
JiuBa, the first-floor bar and cocktail lounge at iChina, is the epitome of refined elegance. High ceilings and a regal color scheme create a luxurious yet welcoming atmosphere. JiuBa’s reflective water ripple ceiling resembles a mirage in the stars meant to create a sense of endless prosperity. Its décor echoes the tradition and grandeur of the upstairs restaurant while adding a flair only possible at a cocktail lounge.
The talented bar staff serve creative libations alongside small plates in the spirit of New American Chinese cuisine. The bar experience mirrors the innovation and luxury showcased in the upstairs dining room and is an extension of the overall culinary concept of iChina. Guests can expect both detail and artistry in each craft cocktail served, fusing traditional ingredients, such as baiju and teas with modern mixology techniques.
Happy hour is offered daily from 3-6 pm, featuring $ 7 light bites, including Pork & Shrimp Dumplings, Wagyu Beef Tartare and Pork Belly Bao, $ 10 cocktails and wine, and $ 6 beer. With its extensive wine and beer lists, and its curated selection of bites, the sleek lounge is an ideal destination for a night out, a special occasion, or drinks before dinner on the second floor.
Our beverage menu offers seasonal, clever cocktails such as the “Shiao-Lau-Who” (a play on words meaning ‘little tiger’ in Chinese), a balanced “tiki” cocktail featuring
Leblon Cachaça, Ming River Baiju, Amaro Nonino, orgeat and strawberry, and “Oolong Milk Punch” made with Hennessy VS, Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, oolong tea, Licor 43, aloe liqueur, blue agave, milk and pineapple juice.
The wine cellar is beautiful! What are some of your best bottles? Talk a little about the wine program as well.
The impressive, exposed wine cellar houses a wide variety of wines from California, including Napa Valley, Sonoma and Russian River, and sparkling wines from Italy, Africa and France. The wine list is constantly updating as our team discovers new wines that pair well with our dishes. If you are a wine lover, do not forget to ask our staff to give you a tour of the wine cellar!