Restaurant "Rio Azul" was opened in Barcelona about 30 years ago. It offers its visitor's authentic Chinese cuisine and also arranges private parties.
In the restaurant, which is run by Wing Fai Ip Chan and his Spanish wife Mary, the specialty is Pekin Duck, which is a feast not only for the taste buds, but also for the eyes. Any meal here is an exquisite experience, because only ingredients of the highest quality are used - many of which are very rare in
Europe. An example of this is abalones, a delicious kind of Chinese oyster. It is served either fresh or pickled. The price of a big mollusk can reach $ 3000 in Hon Kong today. Wing Fai Ip imports the abalones from the Far East to introduce the inhabitants of Catalonia to its extraordinary taste. The restaurant is the only one in Spain that has this on the menu. Cooking abalones from a natural mollusk takes about 18 hours of a huge love and attention to detail. After cooking, some ham and chicken are added, to give the dish its final, original taste. Various kinds of abalones exist. The most valuable are large mollusks, which are sufficient to feed about 20 people.
Wing Fai Ip came from Hon Kong to Barcelona in 1978 at the age of 20. He worked as a cook in China and when he came to Spain, continued in the same line of work. First he worked at his sisters restaurant and after that opened his own business, one of the first Chinese restaurants in Catalonia. Over time "Rio Azul" became a prestigious restaurant and is proud to count several amongst its regular guests, such as cinema personalities, nobility, not to mention diplomats and businessmen from the East.
The best prays for the owners of a restaurant are the wish of visitors to repeat this or that course. "We have worked long and hard for this appreciation from our guests". Not all Chinese restaurants in the city are the same. "Customers who visit our restaurant the first time, - assures Wing Fai - "are often surprised to see a different menu". They explain that although they often visit Chinese restaurants they are unfamiliar with many of our courses. This is a restaurant with all the merits of Cantonese cooking, with its specialization in Pekin Duck, fish that is steamed to preserve its taste, and self cooked Tim-Sum. Wing Fai Ip has now taken off his apron to direct the business, which employs 11 people. The result of this joined
efforts is "the perfect menu which we nevertheless constantly try to improve". Wing Fai Ip himself especially allots "gold needles", a very precious mushroom in China, medusa, courses cooked on the base of shark s fin, taste characteristics of which are excellent.
The times when Wing Fai made the first steps in Hon Kong are left behind. Now his life is here, near his restaurant, his family, continuing to introduce innovations to Cantonese cooking and to bring to Barcelona treasures of the East.