Best Dining Deals for 520 (the Romantic Holiday You Likely Forgot)
As if we need another ‘official holiday’ to feel the pressure of public displays of affection. In the West, there’s Valentine’s Day on Feb 14, the day when restaurants push heart and cupid-filled set menus, and the price for roses and chocolate suddenly double. While China also observes Western Valentine’s Day, there’s also May 20, more commonly known as 520. Why 520? Well, if you strain really hard to hear it (really, really hard), the three digits 5-2-0 (wǔ'èrlíng) when spoken together sound like 我爱你 wǒ ài nǐ, "I love you." Just don’t confuse it with Qixi, the ancient Chinese festival which is also sometimes referred to as Chinese Valentine’s Day.
The first reported use of 520 as a coded love message was by Taiwanese singer Mavis Fan in her 1998 song "Darling." Then in the early 2000s, its use became popular among Chinese netizens before it was eventually linked to May 20 and hijacked by the retail industry! The day has since become a romantic occasion for couples in China, as more and more young love-birds are choosing to get hitched, propose, or make their relationship status official on this day. For anyone who frequently forgets holidays and anniversaries, it’s also a good chance to make good on any Valentine’s Day plans that may have gone amiss, which is especially welcome this year given that it fell smack in the middle of the COVID-19 epidemic.
So, whether you're a proponent of Hallmark holidays or not, here are either some great 520 dining deals to dig into or a list of venues you'll want to avoid tonight:
The Opposite House
Whether you choose the intimate indoor dining room or the breezy spring alfresco dining terrace, Chef Marino at Frasca has whipped up a romantic four-course menu, available between 5-9pm for RMB 520. If you'd prefer Chinese dining, head downstairs to Jing Yaa Tang for Michelin star-evoking tasting menu (RMB 1,134 for two) created especially for the evening by chef Li Dong. Finally, cap the night off with a glass – or few – of bubbly at Union, where Champagne will be 50 percent off.
TRB Forbidden City
Celebrate 520 with TRB courtesy of their six-course dinner menu (RMB 1,314 per person), which includes lobster, foie gras, and peach dessert, all alongside an unparalleled view of the Forbidden City.
Maison Flo's terrace and garden promises to be teeming with lovers this 520, providing a stunning backdrop to two set menus (RMB 1,688/RMB 1,988 per person) made especially for the occasion. If that's not enough, every one of Groupe Flo's restaurants is offering 520 menus this Wednesday.
Enjoy the summer breeze at Xian, East Hotel with a three-course set menu with your choice of main along with free-flow sparkling wine, house wines, and craft beers.
Head to DesLink this 520 for long island iced tea or light pink peach cocktails for RMB 60 for two (originally RMB 110). They also have half-price specials on food, including spaghetti bolognese for RMB 24 and Korean fried chicken for RMB 19.
Enjoy a hearty RMB 299 set meal for two at Nyonya Kitchen this Wednesday, including a choice of garden or papaya salad, salmon, chicken, or steak main, and dessert of durian cake or ice cream.
Treat your special someone to a packed set menu at The Merchants, spanning everything from grilled tender broccolini to wagyu beef and a passion fruit dessert. RMB 520 for just the food or RMB 988 with wine pairing.
Want more 520 deals? There are plenty more where these came from, right here.
A version of this blog first appeared on our sister site beijingkids.
Photos: Ricky Karawala (via Unsplash), courtesy of organizers, Remote Land