After nearly a decade of serving up culinary inspirations from Beijing and beyond, Forbidden City, the massive 7,000-square-foot museum-like restaurant in Marina Pacifica, has closed its doors.
When businessman Michael Brausen and chef/businesswoman Gao Yan spent two months in the Forbidden City and eight other Chinese metros, they felt compelled to bring something back, and they did: three, 40-foot containers filled to the brim with 66 tons of goods including hand-carved marble pieces, giant Fu Dog sculptures, onyx tables, silk lampshades…
They used the artifacts to build what Brausen would describe as “a feng shui, museum-quality dining experience.” It was as much spectacle as it was Asian cuisine, running the gamut from classic Chinese-American dishes such as Orange Chicken (though China has an orange chicken dish, the Americanized version featuring fried chicken bits tossed in a thick, sweet sauce is the one Yan served) to traditional Chinese dishes—Want Xizo Xin, one of Forbidden City’s former head chefs, is from Beijing and brought with him an entourage of Chinese assistants—to a fully equipped sushi bar.
According to regular patron Miguel Betancourt, the restaurant threw its final hurrah last night before formally closing their doors, despite a lease that extends to the end of this month.
The restaurant marked Marina Pacifica as a go-to for thematic dining destination, following the equally large Tantalūm toward the west end of the property as well as its’ corporate neighbor, Acapulco. (And joins a slew of other recent restaurant closures: Russo’s, Seoulmate, Linden Public, The Spot Cafe, E.J. Malloy’s…)
However, while those two spaces remain open, Forbidden City marks the third major spot to go empty in Marina Pacifica, following the closure of Best Buy earlier this year and the closure of Sports Authority, that space having sat empty above AMC Theaters for years.
The question of how owners of massive properties will continue to bring in big restaurant tenants and remain relevant when many patrons desire localized-but-affordable food experiences that feel less theme parky and more unique.
Brausen did not return a call for comment.
Forbidden City was located at 6380 East Pacific Coast Highway.
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