Skip the diet and just eat healthy.
Tucked away in the leafy maze of Wuhan Tiandi is a welcome addition to the ever-expanding western restaurant scene, but with a much needed twist. No dodgy hamburgers or fries with the familiar taste of yesterdays oil, no luminescent ketchup : nope. At the Wuhan branch of Element Fresh, you will find only plates bursting with colour, composed of fresh quality produce.
Being a lover of ingredients I can pronounce and recognise on first sight, Element Fresh has always been my go-to restaurant when travelling to cities like Beijing or Shanghai. Now in Wuhan, there is no need to travel that far for a healthy hearty meal. Good news for all !
Why the Tennis Racket ?
Wander around Wuhan Tiandi, locate one of their information boards and follow your nose to block 12 where you will see the recently vamped up Element Fresh sporting a giant tennis racket half submerged in concrete just outside their deck area.
Why the tennis racket? Well, Scott Minoie, who founded Element Fresh back in 2002, along with Frank Rashe, co-owner since 2004, have partnered with one of Wuhan’s own star’s, Li Na (李 娜), the tennis champion who put Wuhan on the map, to bring signature dishes created in collaboration with the retired sports star adding a nice local element to Wuhan’s first Element Fresh.
The menu is quite sizeable. But it doesn’t make you feel overwhelmed as there is something for everyone. The Superfood section curated by Li Na, boasts a plethora of colour and goodness with all the new trendy foods that are making their way onto health fanatics plates; such as kale, beetroot, quinoa, bulgur wheat, salmon, grapefruit and blueberries.
Soups and Starters
The starters and soups have been nabbed from all parts of the globe. With the likes of a Tuscan White Bean Soup with Pesto, a middle-eastern Hummus with fresh vegetables, olives and pita, Vietnamese Spring Rolls and a heavenly looking Mediterranean Plate to put all your cravings at ease.
Prices range from 39 – 99 RMB
Element Fresh prides itself in their simple philosophy of: great taste makes “eating right” easy; so it’s not surprising that their salads feature heavily in the menu. For those dubious about “rabbit food”, let me assure you that a big bowl, heavily loaded with vegetables, cheese, potatoes, fish or meat, will satisfy your hunger monster and not leave you feeling overly stuffed.
The addition of artichokes, radicchio and walnuts tempted me to order their Grilled Garden Salad. It arrived in a deep white bowl laden with mixed salad leaves, grilled vegetables with a hard boiled egg and walnuts to garnish. The salad was lovely and fresh and the portion was just right for a light lunch.
I followed through with another one their salads but this time opted for the meaty Grilled Caribbean Steak Salad. A bit on the pricey side at 120 RMB, but accompanying it was a perfectly seared jerk seasoned fillet sitting amidst avocado, grilled pineapple, corn and chill pepper. Upon first bite, I was sold. It’s a great salad, bursting with colour and flavour. It comes with a mellow mango dressing which that added a nice tang to dish.
Salad prices range from 69 RMB – 120 RMB
For those wanting something a bit more filling, the pasta selection has a good variety. And for seafood lovers out there, you could opt for a spicy King Prawn Pasta cooked in a cream and white wine sauce with peas or the Seafood Trio, spaghetti loaded with mussels, salmon and shrimp cooked in white wine and garlic with fennel and mushrooms. If seafood isn’t your thing, no worries, they have you covered with the likes of Pasta Puttanesca, a comforting Macaroni Cheese or even a Fettuccine with meatballs: Wagyu of course.
Prices range from 69 – 109 RMB
From the Grill
Sourcing quality ingredients locally and imported if needed, Mexican Chef Alexandro Hamacher only serves up Australian grain-fed Wagyu beef and Mongolian lamb from the Element Fresh kitchen. Missing a decent steak, I had to try their Herb and Balsamic Ribeye. It arrived beautifully presented on a black plate with roasted baby potatoes and a tower of roasted vegetables topped with Napoletana sauce. The ribeye, a slightly chewier cut of meat than say, a fillet, but more flavourful, was grilled to perfection. Med-rare as I had ordered it and heavenly. If you are meat eater, I would highly recommend you try out one their steaks.
Grilled dishes range from 149 – 209 RMB
If you venture into the sandwich section, you would get a pretty awesome sandwich. Vegans have the option of a Fresh Vegetable Wrap with 5 Spice Tofu or Grilled Vegetables with Herbs and Feta served on ciabatta bread. For the big boys, The Truck Driver or Dad’s Steak Sandwich look like they would tame any hunger beast. And if you are wanting a little bit more to your meal, you can add a side bowl of soup or salad to your order.
Sandwich prices range from 49 – 109 RMB
If you are the type of person who looks at the dessert section first, I would suggest you try out the ice-cream. I sampled the Baked Apple Spring Roll which came with a scoop of all natural vanilla ice-cream that was dotted with vanilla seeds, creamy and outshone the tasty baked treat it was accompanying.
The restaurant seats 84 people inside and 133 outside on the deck with bookings only available on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Their VIP Friends Card works on a point system much like other cards, but with the added plus of a Monday “Buy 1, get 1 free” salad and a Wednesday Steak Night.
Want to take the missus out for date night or have a few important clients you want to treat? They have taken the guesswork out of ordering by preparing a few 3 course set menus for you to choose from. Prices start from 288 RMB for a dinner for two or 288 RMB per person for the premium dinner.
And if you up early in the morning and in the mood for something hearty to line your stomach, they do have a nice little breakfast menu to sort you out but make sure you get there before 11am.
Element Fresh has a following of locals and expats in larger cities; and Wuhan, I’m sure, will be following suit. The only real criticism I had, was trying to locate a waiter for service. Yes, some of us love and are used to shouting “fuyuyuan,” but I’m not. However for a restaurant that had just opened its doors, I’m sure the staff will be better trained in no time.
Please head out to Element Fresh soon. If the location isn’t enough to draw you over, then the well-made, healthy meals they serve should.