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'Harper's Elbows' becomes star dish in Beijing

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (L) shakes hands with China's Premier Wen Jiabao following a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing February 8, 2012.

CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS/CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS

In Canada, the phrase "Harper's Elbows" might make a good description for the prime minister's penchant for playing political offence.

But in Beijing, it's the name of a new dish in a restaurant that gained celebrity status following Stephen Harper's visit earlier this month.

During his four-day trip to China, Mr. Harper stopped in at the Yi Wan Ju restaurant in Beijing for lunch with his wife Laureen.

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The restaurant's name literally translates to "the home of the one-bowl meal," and diners receive a bowl of soup and noodles which they season according to taste.

The lunch was meant to be a quick photo op and also give the Harpers a local's taste of Beijing.

But a few days after Mr. Harper left the Chinese capital, Canadian embassy staff began hearing rumours that the restaurant was now doing brisk business in a dish translated as "Harper's Elbows."

According to a report in Chinese media, Mr. Harper combined two dishes from the menu — cabbage served in a mustard sauce and soup-braised pork.

The pork dish is named after one of China's most famous poets and is commonly known as Dong Po Pork. It's made using pork belly or pork hock, made with pig knuckles.

But Mr. Harper, a fan of spicy foods, decided to take the soup meat and dip it into the mustard sauce.

The restaurant owner was surprised by the combination and declared a new dish born.

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A literal translation of the title is "Harper's Elbows," though it could also be understood as "Harper's Knuckles."

A sign was put up outside the restaurant announcing the special dish, and inside the restaurant, the table, plates and chairs, including golden chair covers, have been permanently reserved.

The dishes the Harpers ordered are also on display.

The restaurant manager told China News that business is up 20 per cent.

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