Finnish Restaurant Introduces "Pop-Down" Dining

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Guests literally descended on a newly opened restaurant near Helsinki where the meal - prepared by an award-winning Finnish chef - is served 80 meters (262 ft.) below ground.

The restaurant - "Muru Pops Down in Tytyri" - is located in a limestone mine.

During the evening guests can go as far down as 350 meters (1,148 ft.) to an underground cave by using elevator manufacturer Kone's test laboratory lifts.

Ritva Seppanen, head of Kone branding, said the mine restaurant turns the "pop-up" trend in the restaurant world upside down.

[Ritva Seppanen, Kone Branding Head]:
"For the last couple of years pop-up restaurants have been really popular, so kind of restaurants that literally pop up for a week or month or so in an unusual place, and we Finnish people like to things a little bit differently, so we thought 'hey we have to call it pop down restaurant' because we are literally coming down under ground, so it's a play on words."

Timo "Lintsi" Linnamaki, an award-winning Finnish chef who normally runs the Muru restaurant in Helsinki, has been put in charge of the menu.

He says it was inspired by the restaurant's location.

[Timo "Lintsi" Linnamaki, Chef & Muri Restaurant Owner]:
"The main theme with the menu was actually element earth, because we are here 80 meters under the ground and how we started to plan was like I came here down to the mine and sat down and stared to think what inspires me with the element earth."

The guests were attracted both by the mining experience and Muru's reputation.

[Anna Konsti, Restaurant Guest]:
"My first thought was that I have to be part of this experience of course, I had never heard of something like this and of course this is a really unique thing, maybe a once in a lifetime experience."

Timo Karhapaa planned the visit as a surprise for his wife, who is a big fan of Muru.

[Timo Karhapaa, Restaurant Guest]:
"I know that she is very fond of Restaurant Muru in Helsinki but never visited that, and once I heard this opportunity, this great opportunity 'pop-down' restaurant I wanted to surprise her yes, but I revealed this surprise before we came here."

An evening at "Muru Pops Down in Tytyri" will set you back 128 euros per person.

The price includes a four-course meal, drinks and also bus transportation to and from Helsinki city center.

Guests will have the opportunity to dine in the 64-seat restaurant until September 24.

When someone disappears in China, it’s usually a dissident or a political activist—not the country’s next leader. That’s why speculation is growing about the whereabouts of Xi Jinping.

Xi, who’s the current vice president, hasn’t been seen in public since September 1st. Since then, he’s cancelled meetings with foreign guests, including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and, on Monday, the Danish Prime Minister.

This set off a flurry of questions on Tuesday for the Chinese Foreign Ministry. However, Spokesman Hong Lei was in no mood to answer them.

[Hong Lei, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman]:
"I hope you can ask more serious questions."

Many Chinese analysts believe the reaction by the Chinese Foreign Ministry highlights how Chinese censors do not want netizens to speculate. Xi Jinping’s name remains a restricted search term on the popular Sina Weibo. Still, various explanations have appeared on the internet for Xi’s absence.

These range from a simple back injury to attempted assassination from political rivals. Citing unnamed sources, Reuters reported today that Xi is unwell, but did not elaborate.

NTD’s Senior China Analyst Tianxiao Li believes there is more to the story.

[Tianxiao Li, Senior China Analyst]:
“Xi would have been meeting Hillary Clinton as a successor to power, and the new leader of the country. This meeting would have set up a platform for them to get to know each other, this would have been the goal—so whether he was avoiding the meeting, or has gone missing, something more is going on.”

Xi’s unexplained disappearance suggests that arrangements for the Communist Party’s leadership transition are far from settled. But given the information vacuum from official sources, speculation will remain for now.

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