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Beijingers swarm back for taste as 'Dear Old Moscow' reopens
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Seventy-eight-year-old professor Lu staggered into the newly opened Moscow Restaurant with his wife. The couple sat at a table by the window, smiling at each other.

Before the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Russia on Oct. 3, the Moscow Restaurant reopened Tuesday after a three-month renovation, attracting many old customers back for a taste.

People call the restaurant using the nickname "Lao Mo", or "Dear Old Moscow" in English.

"The newly-decorated restaurant is basically back to its original appearance 55 years ago," said manager Zhou Lei, referring to a wooden swing gate, wooden floor, large glass windows and a fountain in the hall.

The restaurant was first opened on Oct. 2, 1954, and was the first Western restaurant in Beijing after the founding of the New China.

For many people back then, it was considered a luxury to eat here.

"At that time, the restaurant offered only two kinds of meals priced at 1.2 and 2 yuan. For many ordinary people, it was as happy as celebrating the Spring Festival to eat here," recalled Liu Fengying, who used to receive foreign guests in the restaurant.

Around the 1960s, the service of the restaurant came to a halt as the Sino-Soviet relationship began deteriorating due to political diverge. On reopening, the restaurant changed its name and served only Chinese food.

The restaurant didn't go back to its Russian identity in 1984 after China's reform and opening up.

With two Russian chefs mainly responsible for developing new dishes, the restaurant now has a wide range of meals to cater for both Chinese and foreign friends while strictly adhering to the Russian style of cooking and material selection.

Professor Lu and his wife laid down their knives and forks as four performers dressed in traditional Russian costumes went on stage and danced to the famous folk song of "Moscow Nights."

The couple hummed the tune.

"Back then, he sang this song and proposed to me," said the wife.

(Xinhua News Agency September 8, 2009)

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