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Beijing dining

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#271 nakji

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 03:34 AM

Happy double nine day! It's the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, and I can barely hear myself think for all the firecrackers going off in the neighborhood.

Our next stop in Beijing was a Sichuan place called Dezhe Xiaoguan. In an alley in the middle of Dongcheng district somewhere, our cabbie was in the dark as we were trying to find the place. I thought at one point I'd seen the hutong sign, and stopped the cab, only to see after getting out and paying that I'd read the sign wrong. My husband and I had one of those conversations you have when you've been dropped out of a cab on a dark, quiet street in a strange city where you can barely read and speak the language. Blame was eventually assigned to me. Our faithful attendance of language lessons finally paying off, though, we were able to call and get guided to the right hutong, not a block down on the other side of the road. It's not a difficult place to find, but please note no English is spoken, nor is there an English sign to this place.

It's in a restored courtyard home, with first-date sort of atmosphere. Warm, naturally finished wood tables and chairs; traditional blue and white china; Jack Johnson on the stereo.

The food, as I noticed in Beijing, came in HUGE portions, and we over-ordered so badly that even our server felt compelled to tell us we'd ordered way to much. We were greedy guts and were undeterred by his warnings.

We ordered the cold sesame and chili chicken in a vain attempt to recreate the magic from the night before, and while their version was fine, the chicken flesh was nowhere near as silky as that of Da Dong's.

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Beef with wild mushrooms was rich and moreish. The beef was cut what I think of as Japanese-style - very thin in sheets with lots of flavoursome fat laced on the edge of each sheet. These mushrooms -I have no idea what kind they are, but have long, hollow stems and tiny caps carried the earthy taste of the beef, and they were bound together in a slightly sweet, slightly hot sauce that made you take mouthful after mouthful trying to get sated of it - but each mouthful led to more of a craving, instead of sating it. It was a Sisyphean sauce.

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It pretty much ruined my appetite for the two further dishes we'd ordered; the braised green beans with yellow-bean sauce - soft and salty; very nice.

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Chili-fried radish with smoked ham.

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The smoked ham is what makes me wonder if the true deliciousness of Chinese country cooking can be truly experienced internationally, without access to these cured meats. This pork was so smoky, so rich, that a few small pieces infused a wok full of radish shreds so much that it was like we were eating crispy vegetable chili bacon. It pained me not to polish off every scrap, but we were just too stuffed. My husband and I routinely finish three dishes between us in Suzhou with room to spare, but the portion sizes there are so much smaller. We got da pao of the extra.

There is lots of lovely game and offal dishes on the menu as well, including crispy kidneys and rabbit head, but we couldn't order everything, even though I've been meaning to make a go of enjoying offal dishes. When I go back to Beijing, it'll be difficult not to revisit.

#272 nakji

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 07:06 PM

We spent one afternoon wandering around the Houhai area of Beijing - kind of a fashionable club-cafe-shop district set on a lake, with traditional hutong branching off in all directions like a maze. We had a good poke into some of the shops, and I picked up a small clay pot of yogurt to sip, which seems to be the thing to do as a tourist in Beijing. I'm not sure of the name of the dairy, but the yogurt was excellent - so thick and tangy it was hard to sip. I was at a loss with what to do with the nice pot once I was done, however, so I left it in a small cairn of like pots near a shop. Hope that was the done thing, too.

There were quite a lot of stalls on the lake selling cold noodles, but my husband and I have a minor obsession with Yunnanese food, so we searched out a place called "No Name" listed on our Beijing iPhone app - just follow the GPS map and you're there. Awesome.

Of course, we ordered more eggplant, because it had been almost 24 hours since I'd had some last. This was grilled, with a mix of pork, chilis and herbs on top.

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Rice noodles with peanut sauce and steamed chicken.

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The peanut sauce looked like a dark miso, and had almost a bitter taste. I'm interested in how they got it so dark. Anyone have any idea? I'd never seen peanut sauce like this before.

Fried Yunnanese cheese, with a chili-herb dressing. Much better than a similar one available at Southern Barbarian in Shanghai, which comes under-seared, in my opinion.

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Overall, much nicer, lighter dishes than Southern Barbarian in Shanghai, and closer to Southeast Asian dishes. Resolved: my first long-distance trip in China will be to Yunnan.

The restaurant itself had a beautiful view over the hutong from its roof terrace, and the wonderful light was our last chance to absorb some vitamin D before the dust blew in the next day.

#273 nakji

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Posted 30 October 2010 - 12:59 AM

We had our last meal at a cheap and cheerful Dongbei place, whose name and location are completely absent in my notes. Perhaps someone will recognize it and help me out?

They had six or seven kinds of dumplings on the menu, and we chose squash and egg, and pork with chive. I was hoping the squash would be the yellow pumpkin kind, but it turned out to be zucchini - rather bland for my taste.

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Braised chicken and mushroom with glass noodles. It was okay.

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The stand-out dish for me was the beef with cumin - tender sheets of beef and intense cumin and chili flavour made this almost curry-like. My friends were not as big fans, which left much of the dish to me.

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We also ordered a big salad basket - very reminiscent of the leaf plates you get in Korean barbecue restaurants. The dip was a chili-yellow bean sauce.

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We also ordered tofu sheets wrapped around more lettuce. I wasn't a big fan - the two things hardly seemed to relate to each other at all, but it seemed like a novel presentation that we wanted to give a try.

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It was really hard to get a white balance and take decent photos here because of the charming red lighting. I loved the lamps and the bright cotton prints all over the place - and so did everyone else, by the looks of it, as the place was jam-packed on two floors.

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#274 Kent Wang

Kent Wang
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Posted 26 December 2011 - 09:14 PM

If you go to Da Dong, I recommend the Jinbao Dasha location as you can see them roasting the ducks, and they carve the duck table-side. The location I also went to in Chaoyang they carve it in the kitchen and bring it out.

Also ask for the duck soup. It's free; they make it out of the duck you just ate—well, not your duck but somebody else's duck from yesterday. Rather unscrupulous of them to not offer it unless asked though.

#275 FDE

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 03:06 PM

Like previous visits, it was short but full, and very full!

Li’s Imperial Cuisine

We have been to both Family Li in Shanghai and Beijing two years ago, but this restaurant located near the Beijing Capital Airport is where the Grand Chef Ivan Li spends most of his time. It is not the easiest location to get to, but like all the top culinary spots, the journey is part of the experience! In terms of food alone, Li’s Imperial is definitely the highest quality of all Beijing restaurants that we have visited.


The Private Room - Park Hyatt Beijing

For high-end exclusive Cantonese dining, this is the place. The restaurant spans over 2300 square meters of the entire floor consisting of 16 uniquely designed rooms! The cuttlefish with smoked bacon, the abalone and morel baked rice, and the egg tart topped with redcurrant and chocolate were just some of the highlights.



Bai Jia Da Yuan

You don't need a time machine to go back to the Qing Dynasty! If you are looking for a unique experience, I would recommend this place. The team consists of 200+ staff divided into 7 levels, distinguished by their traditional uniforms, based on a similar ranking system used in the Forbidden City. It was the professional training to each staff and the attention to details making the whole experience so wonderful. Initially I thought it was a tourist trap with bad food, but we were very satisfied with our experience - the food, the service, and the ambience. Very impressive indeed!
The menu had a wide range of food and even wider range of prices! If you don't need a private room and don’t order those expensive delicacies, you can come out from this place paying less than ¥1500 for two.


Made in China - Grand Hyatt Beijing

We went for the duck of course. They can only do about 70 ducks a day and each duck needs an hour of roasting in their traditional wood oven. Hence, reserving a duck when booking a table at this restaurant is a must. Other than the duck, the Honey Glazed King Prawn was superb!
We went to Duck de Chine the day after and turned out to be the most disappointing meal of our trip! Ambience was bad, pancake was thick, and duck skin wasn’t crispy at all!


South Beauty

And like last time, we always stop by here for some modern and spicy Sichuan dishes. The Pacific Century branch probably had the most stylish dining room of this chain in Beijing.


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