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Utah Opera’s Turandot celebrates Chinese culture

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The Utah Opera’s spring production is Puccini’s Turandot. Called the “cruel princess,” Princess Turandot announces that she will marry the man who can solve her three riddles but behead those who cannot. Princes try and fail and heads do roll until one clever prince appears and solves her trio of challenges. He then counters with a riddle of his own and the vain and icy Turandot is caught in her own web.

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The opera runs March 15-23 at the newly restored Capitol Theatre.

To celebrate the opera set in Peking and highlight Utah’s growing Chinese culture—including Salt Lake’s new Chinatown on State Street near 3300 South—several local Chinese restaurants have teamed up with the Utah Opera to offer the Silk & Spices cultural festival. Over two evenings, opera fans can enjoy an evening meal celebrating the foods from both the northern and southern region of China at a great value ($30 per person, tax and tip included) and get personal explanations and introductions to the food from the restaurants.

On Wednesday, March 19, from 5:30-7 p.m., Hong Kong Tea House will offer a traditional southern Chinese dinner featuring:

  • Fried shrimp ball
  • Peking duck
  • Black pepper beef short ribs
  • Snow pea leaves stir-fried with garlic
  • Pork tenderloin stir-fried with tender greens
  • Lotus root shrimp paste patties
  • Golden dragon chicken
  • House special pan-fried noodles
  • Dessert

The accommodating staff at Hong Kong Tea House will walk diners through each dish of the meal.

Tickets for dinner are $30 per person (meal, tax, and tip included; alcoholic beverages and opera tickets must be purchased separately).

To purchase tickets for dinner contact the USUO Ticket Office at (801) 533-NOTE.

Hong Kong Tea House, 565 W. 200 South

The next evening on Thursday, March 20, from 5:30-7 p.m., Ho Mei BBQ in Chinatown will introduce attendees to northern Chinese foods.

Appetizer: Half duck; half soy sauce chicken; a combination of honey BBQ pork/spareribs

Soup: Hot/sour soup; seafood tofu soup

Entree: Bei fung tong lobster; ginger onion crab; walnut shrimp; Peking rib; braised beef tenderloin in house special sauce; General Tso chicken, sizzling eggplant; sauteed mixed vegetable; spicy string bean

To purchase tickets for dinner, contact the USUO Ticket Office at (801) 533-NOTE.

Ho Mei, 3370 South State Street

If your schedule doesn’t allow you to attend either of these dinners, here’s a chance to venture out and try something new and get into the spirit of the opera before it begins by planning your own dining adventure. Here are a few of my favorite Chinese dishes across the valley you might try to make your own cultural evening complete.

Shanghai Fat Noodles at Boba World

Chewy noodles coated with soy sauce and accompanied by your choice of chicken, beef or shrimp and crisp vegetables, these noodles will keep you warm as you follow the story of this icy princess.

Three Delicacy BBQ at Ho Mei BBQ

With so many choices to pick from, it’s hard to narrow it down to just a trio but the BBQ pork, BBQ spare ribs and roasted duck are front running favorites. This is Chinese barbecue done right with crispy, fatty and meaty depths.

Salt and pepper fish at Red Corner China Diner

It’s hard to believe that salt and pepper fish could be so simple but so delicious. A fresh fillet of flaky white fish is dredged in cornstarch and seasoned flour mixture and lightly fried for an airy, salt and peppery meal garnished with diced red and green bell peppers.

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