Everything you need to know about iChina, Silicon Valley’s fine Chinese dining destination
iChina is a one-of-a-kind Chinese dining concept in Silicon Valley’s upscale shopping destination, Westfield Valley Fair. With a kitchen led by Hong Kong-born Executive Chef Eddie Lam, the menu showcases China’s eight culinary regions, as well as flavors and ingredients from various provinces, using modernized cooking techniques.
According to the iChina team, iChina means “to love China” – a name that reflects a passion for Chinese cuisine, heritage and culture. The restaurant was founded in hopes of changing the way people eat Chinese cuisine by expanding the scope of what was traditionally expected and serving not only unique dishes and flavors, but producing them thoughtfully and elegant with modern interpretations.
iChina is truly a dining destination, home to four distinct and stunningly designed dining options for guests including: the JiuBa Cocktail Lounge, a full-service dining room, a tea ceremony and four exclusive private dining rooms. Not to mention, it’s home to VR Realm, Silicon Valley’s first virtual reality dining hall.
The whole restaurant and culinary concept is perfectly designed and inspired by the ancient imperial palaces of China. It’s a sight to behold, even without having a full, seated meal. The restaurant exudes elegance in every design detail, from the high ceilings and large light 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 palette of blues, golds and reds, and detailed lanterns beneath the shape of ancient Chinese architectural buildings.
From cooking styles from various regions of China to the use of Indian spices on certain dishes, guests are set for a culinary adventure as they explore the seasonally changing menu that showcases multicultural influences in every dish.
For example, on their current spring menu, the third course features real seared Baja striped bass prepared American-style with finesse to maximize its distinctive flavors. Diners can also sample Claypot Style Pork Jowl Rice, which was created out of a sense of nostalgia for the traditional Chinese dish.
We chatted with the iChina team to talk about VR Realm, JiuBa’s unique bar experience, their current menu and cuisine and more. Here’s what they had to say.
How is iChina different from other Silicon Valley/Bayside restaurants? What kind of experience can you have at the restaurant that you might not be able to have elsewhere?
iChina is inspired by its location in the heart of Silicon Valley, where innovation is firmly rooted in the local culture. Executive chef Eddie Lam and his team celebrate this innovation by using 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 integrate visual and auditory components into a gourmet meal, making it a memorable dinner and placing the experience at the intersection of food and entertainment.
Thoughtful details make the experience especially magical, as private parties can choose from one of the restaurants’ stunning themes, including an ethereal bamboo forest, pond, cherry blossom garden, mosaic wall and water lantern festival, and immerse themselves in a fascinating dining experience that customers can’t get anywhere else in Silicon Valley.
Can you share with us your inspiration for the different dishes on the latest spring dinner menu?
The spring prix fixe menu is designed as a tribute to China’s eight culinary regions, incorporating flavors from different provinces while modernizing the approach with techniques borrowed from our team’s international culinary experience. Our culinary concept of “New American Chinese” aims to bring East and West together in a seamless and elegant way, combining tradition and innovation, offering creative reinterpretations that wow our customers.
An example of my favorite dish is Pork Jowl Claypot Style Rice, which was inspired by a sense of nostalgia from my upbringing. In addition to our prix fixe spring menu, our prix fixe vegetarian menu reflects many spring dishes. Our team and I approached each variation with intention and creativity with thoughtful sourcing including local organic produce. Many flavors on the vegetarian menu, including Zha Jiang Mian and Claypot Style Mushroom Rice, were also inspired by flavors from my childhood.
Can you tell us more about iChina’s interior design inspiration?
The iChina experience begins the moment customers walk through the door as they are transported to an environment of beauty and grandeur with rich textiles, a dazzling color palette and exquisite craftsmanship. The interior design of iChina is influenced by the painting “A Thousand Miles of Rivers and Mountains”, presented to Emperor Huizong of the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) by the famous 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 dining destination but traditionally influenced. The 9,600 square foot second floor dining room offers a beautiful yet inviting space perfect for daily gatherings and unforgettable meals.
Talk about your hopes for the restaurant and what you want diners to leave?
We created iChina in hopes of changing the way people eat Chinese food by expanding the scope of what was traditionally expected and not only serving unique dishes and flavors, but producing them in a thoughtful and elegant way. .
In the future, we hope to make iChina a place of cultural exchange where people can experience and learn Chinese traditions and arts from masters of their crafts, such as tea ceremony, cooking class, etc. .
Can you tell us about the bar experience at iChina?
JiuBa, iChina’s first-floor bar and cocktail lounge, is the epitome of understated elegance. High ceilings and a regal color scheme create a luxurious and welcoming atmosphere. JiuBa’s reflective water ripple ceiling looks like a mirage in the stars meant to create a sense of endless prosperity. Its decor echoes the tradition and grandeur of the restaurant upstairs while adding a touch only possible in a cocktail bar.
Talented bar staff serve creative libations accompanied by 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 iChina’s overall culinary concept. Guests can expect both detail and artistry in every craft cocktail served, fusing traditional ingredients, such as baiju and teas, with modern mixology techniques.
Happy hour is offered daily from 3-6 p.m., with $7 light bites including pork and shrimp dumplings, Wagyu beef tartare and Bao pork belly, cocktails and wine at $10 and beer at $6. With its extensive wine and beer lists and selection of bites, the stylish lounge is an ideal destination for a night out, special occasion or pre-dinner drink on the second floor.
Our drink menu features clever seasonal cocktails like the ‘Shiao-Lau-Who’ (pun meaning ‘little tiger’ in Chinese), a balanced ‘tiki’ cocktail made with
Leblon Cachaça, Ming River Baiju, Amaro Nonino, barley 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 juice. ‘pineapple.
The wine cellar is magnificent! What are some of your best bottles? Talk a bit about the wine program as well.
The impressive exposed wine cellar houses a wide variety of California wines, including Napa Valley, Sonoma, and Russian River, as well as sparkling wines from Italy, Africa, and France. The wine list is constantly updated as our team discovers new wines that pair well with our dishes. If you are a wine lover, don’t forget to ask our staff to show you around the wine cellar!