Date: Jan 23rd 2014 10:10a.m.

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Mulu has taken a beautiful courtyard space and turned it into two private dining rooms, where guests are served personalized set menus of anything from Malaysian to Italian cuisine. The intimate space and customizable menu makes the restaurant extremely well-suited for special occasions, and the privacy comes as a relief in crowded and image-conscious Beijing.

You have the choice of either booking three days in advance for a totally personalized menu that you agree to with the kitchen, or choosing a bi-weekly set menu. Prices start at RMB188 per person for a four-course lunch, and have soared to RMB1,288 for dinner. The average dinner check is RMB488, including free-flow wine. Ingredients are bought fresh every morning, and cooked in an open kitchen.

The owner is Malaysian, and the most impressive thing we ate was, too—an amuse-bouche of chicken curry atop a slice of baguette. We also loved the one Chinese-style dish we tried, tender abalone cooked with garlic and chives, with flavorful juices that soaked into rice vermicelli.

Our other dishes were more European, and stood out for presentation. Although the somewhat deconstructed Caesar salad looked amazing and was satisfactory, the flavors fell short of One Pot’s deconstructed Caesar salad, which we’d tried the week before. Osso bucco offered a huge portion, with tasty saffron risotto and fragrant rosemary, but the meat could have been juicier and more tender.

You’re paying for ambiance—upstairs, a rooftop deck begs for wine tastings, and a clean tatami room seats 8-10 people. Downstairs, it feels like a room in someone’s elegantly decorated home, with a huge Qing-dynasty table and shelves of gorgeous ceramics. Narrow wooden stools afford little room for derrières, but patrons do feel relaxed enough to stay into the wee hours of the morning …