2010 Beijing, China Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM

The best way to have a look at our Beijing Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM is to look at our (self) published book called Eating Beijing. Cruising through the photo section is particularly fun. Click here to see it online. (or go to http://www.blurb.com/books/1926024)

If for some reason you can't read our book online, the following is our  2010 Beijing Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM:


Many restaurants have “no smoking” signs. They are never enforced and only rarely have we had a meal without anyone smoking. Once, when asked, someone put out his cigarette for us. Many restaurants had no smoking signs on the tables too, distributed by the “Beijing Patriotic Health Campaign Committee”. Good for them!

Unlike Chinese restaurants in most of the world, restaurants in Beijing do not normally bring tea (for free or at a reasonable price). Tea is on the menu in Beijing and a pot is about the same price as a vegetable dish (and can cost much, much more). We were appalled and really hate this custom. We learned that hot water is served free at restaurants and started ordering re shui (hot water), pronounced something like yur swey, unless the menu had what we considered a reasonably priced tea on it.

To find restaurants we used a website called Native. It turned out to be the most reliable of the websites in English for restaurants (http://www.mobilenative.com/).

We thought we were pretty sophisticated eaters of Chinese food before we came to Beijing. Little did we know! From Wikipedia: “The eight main regional cuisines, or Eight Great Traditions (八大菜系): Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Sichuan, and Zhejiang. Among them, Cantonese, Sichuan, Shandong, and Huaiyang cuisine (a major style and even viewed as the representation of the entire Jiangsu cuisine) are often considered as the standouts of Chinese cuisine and due to their influence are proclaimed as the Four Great Traditions (四大菜系).” From “List of Cuisines, China, Chinese Cuisine” at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cuisines. We have tried to identify the cuisines of the restaurants we visited in our reviews below.

ALE and DM discussed adding ratings to our restaurant reviews and compromised on the following ratings:
HR: Highly recommended
R: Recommended
NR: Not recommended
A: Awful

(Exchange rate US$1 = ¥6.65)

1.            Dong Cheng District and the nearby Chaoyang District area (Dongzhimenwai Dajie between Donzhimen Nanixiaojie and Dongzhimen Nandajie)

1.1           Breakfast

1.1.1     R: Eatery on Xinzhong Jie near the school and at part of Xinzhong Jie where it bends east. We ate breakfast there a few times and spent around ¥8 (depending on how many baskets of dumplings we ordered) for the two of us. The dumplings were very good. The millet soup was unusual for us (and not too tasty). On the other hand, a new soup for us of tofu, a gel-like substance with a soup base was really, really good. We also tried their red bean soup which was okay. They deep fry doughnuts and they are good too when they are freshly made (and still hot).

1.1.2     R: XinZhong Street (Opposite Worker's Gymnasium and Worker's Stadium, North Gate) and near the intersection of Chunxiu Rd. but still in Dong Cheng District. We had breakfast with the tofu soup and dumplings for ¥10. It was good. This is a link to a photo of the cook (and maybe the owner) making the dumplings:
http://www.fototime.com/7E7440234402050/standard.jpg. This is a link to a photo of ALE eating outside of the dumpling shop:
1.1.3     R: Eatery at the SW corner of Xing Fucun Zhonglo and Chunxiu Rd., Dong Cheng District, Beijing. We had breakfast for 2 for ¥5 in an actual restaurant. It was okay.

1.2           Lunch

1.2.1     R: Outside on Xinzhong Jie "alley" north of XinZhong Street (Opposite Worker's Gymnasium and Worker's Stadium, North Gate) and near the intersection of Chunxiu Rd. but still in Dong Cheng District. We ate “with the guys” and had what they had. This is a link to a photo of DM with “the guys” at the next table: http://www.fototime.com/A4AE3664BB7806B/standard.jpg
The soup we ordered was with egg, a little chili and noodles shaped into rope nodules. It was delicious and huge. We also had a enormous order of Edamame for ¥2.5. Imagine in North America finding this hugely over-priced item for 37 cents. We had the boiled peanuts for ¥2.5 that DM loved (he’s eating them in the picture!)

1.2.2     R: Aunt Characteristic Home Dish Restaurant, No. 31 Flar XinZhong Street (opposite the North Gate of the Workers Gymnasium), Dong Cheng District, tel. 6416 4616. We spent ¥41 for two and had a light lunch that was good. We had cold vegetables, peanuts and chrysanthemum tea.

1.3           Dinner

1.3.1     HR: Manchurian Special Flavour Jiavozi Restaurant, 1a Xinzhong Jie, Dong Cheng District, Beijing, tel. 6415-2855, web: www.dongbeiren.com.cn. We spent ¥124 and had an excellent meal. We sat downstairs and wished we had known how nice the upstairs was. Downstairs we were bothered by people’s smoke and the noise. Upstairs we liked the quiet, the decorations and the absence of people smoking. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the food. We ordered Pu'er tea for a lofty ¥38 (note that the tea cost more than our main did). For our main we had 2 braised lamb shank ¥18 x 2 = ¥36 that were delicious. With that we had eggplant, pepper and potato dish for ¥18 that was also very good. We had their layered bread for ¥5 (that we liked), and rice for ¥2. For dessert we had hot candied sweet pachyrhizus ¥25 that was good. There was more than enough food for two and some to take home as well.

1.3.2     HR: Fish Head Restaurant (Wang Shun Ge),  Dongzhimen St. No. 2A Xinzhong St., Ding Xin Bldg, Dong Cheng District, Beijing, tel. 010-5120-3232, web: www.wsg88.com. We spent ¥201 and had a delicious meal in a lovely atmosphere. We sat upstairs and over-looked a portion of the downstairs dining room. The service was excellent and we had more than enough to take home for a second meal. Our tea cost ¥38 which drives us crazy. We ordered the famous Fish Head in thick and delicious sauce (¥105). Man was it good! This is a link to a photo of it: http://www.fototime.com/01F6459DEA5FB84/standard.jpg
We also had Steamed Mushroom in Hotpot (¥42) that was huge and also very good. With the fish head we had the pancake ¥8 to soak up the copious amount of sauce it was cooked in. For dessert we had the
Yogurt for ¥8. We were happy.
1.3.3     R: Jing Zun Peking Duck Restaurant, No. 6 Building North (Chunxiu Rd.), TaipingzhuangNanli, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China, tel. (010) 6417-4075. We spent ¥91 for the two of us. It is very popular, and expats go there too. They have a seating area outside but we sat inside. We ordered Pu'er tea for an astounding ¥30. For our main we had very good braised chicken wings with pepper for ¥28 (note that it was less expensive than the pot of tea). With the chicken we had fried agaric (a kind of fungus) with spring scallion for ¥19. We had one rice for ¥2. For dessert we had dates stuffed with apple in a honey and osmanthus sauce ¥12. It was all very good.

1.3.4     R: Fei Teng Yu Xiang Sichuan, No. 1 Gong Ti Road or 1 Workers Stadium Rd. (Chunxiu Rd. just south of Xingfucun Middle Rd), Chao Yang District, Beijing 100027, tel. 010-6417 4988, web: www.ftyx.com We spent ¥152 for two and had a good meal. It’s a two story large restaurant and we sat upstairs long the railing that looks down on the diners below. The food was mouth-numbingly delicious. The portions were huge. We ordered the cheapest chrysanthemum tea on the menu at ¥18. We started with spicy sea fungus (¥18) that was seaweed with some spices and very good cold. Then we had the (stir) fried field snails with chili (¥42) that was yummy but way too much to eat. We also had the spicy eel (¥52) with lotus root (¥10 extra) and black fungus (¥10 extra), rice (¥3) and 3 huge sesame balls (¥18).

1.3.5     NR: Mei Zhou Dong Po Restaurant, 7 Chunxiu Rd., Dong Cheng District. This is a Sichuan restaurant that has other branches in Beijing. The menu says that “Mei Zhou is located in the Sichuan Basin. Su Dong Po, a Meizhou native was a famous gourmet and created Dong Po delicious food.  Wang Gang founded Meizhou Dong Po Restaurant.” It had tablecloths but was rather drab. It was crowded and the tables turned while we were there. The service was good. We think that we didn’t order well and had we had the leg of pork we would have been happier. We had the least expensive tea pot which was a chrysanthemum at ¥18. We ordered the shredded duck with bean curd sticks ¥25 and we didn’t like the smoked duck or the bean curd shreds or the taste of the dish. We ordered the sizzling stir fried eggplant with soy sauce ¥26; the eggplant was stuffed with meat. It was a tasty dish and large. We had one steamed rice ¥1 and 4 steamed buns with stuffing (4 for ¥6). The buns were deep-fried and stuffed with an egg custard that wasn’t tasty. It wasn’t our best meal.

2.            Dong Cheng District (around Oriental Plaza)

2.1   Breakfast

2.1.1     R: Eatery at the corner of Xiawei Hutong (small street that has one or two restaurants on it ) and Dong Dan San Tiao (bigger street), Dong Cheng District Beijing. We spent ¥20 for three different kinds of buns (bao) that were no better than the cheaper ones in our old neighborhood. For our ¥20, we also had one of the ubiquitous millet soups that was no tastier than any of the others we’ve had in Beijing.

2.2   Lunch

2.2.1     R: Hang Heung Kitchen (Roast Restaurant), CC36 B1, Oriental Plaza, No. 1 East Chang An Ave., Dong Cheng District, Beijing, tel. (010)8515-2378. We spent ¥53 for a dish we used to eat in Hong Kong. It is steamed egg white pudding-like dish that came with assorted seafood. This rendition was very good and plenty of food for lunch for two.

2.2.2     R: Food Republic, Oriental Plaza Shopping Mall, in space CC36, No. 1 East Chang An Ave., Dong Cheng District, Beijing. This is a good place for foreigners to try different foods. We walked around and found people eating a dish with big fat noodles that looked good to us. The eater showed us where to get the dish and how to get a debit card to use in Food Republic so we were all set. We’ve eaten lunch there several times and each time it is good enough. This is a link to a photo of one of the eateries inside Food Republic: http://www.fototime.com/3808CCA2C60A43A/standard.jpg

2.2.3     R: Eatery at 27-1 Nanluoguxiang, Dong Cheng District, Beijing. We spent ¥50 and had a surprisingly good lunch at this unassuming place (in a very touristic area). We had a huge bowl of hot and sour soup (¥15) and then saw some people inspecting a live fish before agreeing to order it. We decided that this place had fresh fish and ordered the scallops in garlic (¥24 for 6). They were very good. We also ordered deep fried peanuts (¥8) that was a huge plateful. We enjoyed ourselves.

2.2.4     R: Noodle Eatery at Exit B of Dongsi Subway Station, Dong Cheng, Beijing. It’s a small place with only noodles. The people are friendly and very nice. We had one plate of noodles with beef ¥14 that was kind of like a beef bolognaise and it was good. We had a plate of pickled cucumber ¥5 that was delicious.

2.2.5     R: Pearl Restaurant, Marriott Beijing City Wall, No. 7 Jian Guo Men South Ave., Dong Cheng, Beijing, tel. 5811-8200. It’s a beautiful room and the service is very good. We spent ¥115 for 4 dim sum dishes (¥25 each), plus ¥15 service. The dim sum were good and we enjoyed ourselves after our walk along the Ming Dynasty City Wall Relic Park and looking at the exhibit at the Corner Tower. Check out a photo of us sitting in the restaurant with this link: http://www.fototime.com/8D7BD142F820E32/standard.jpg

2.2.6     R: Restaurant at Glory Mall on Chongwenmen, Shop B1-29, tel. 6718-1205 We spent ¥78. It’s a simple and pleasant space, just fine for soup on a cold day. We had two soups. One was a pumpkin (¥28) that was huge and good. The other was an “Old Chicken Mushroom Stew” (¥48) that was delicious. The old chicken was tough but the soup tasted was very good. The service was very good too. They serve hot water (with a lemon slice in it) without asking.

2.2.7     NR: Golden Siam Thai Lotus Restaurant, Oriental Shopping Mall, CC07, tel. 8518-6391, web: www.lotusthai.cn. We spent ¥112 for two for a disappointing lunch. The restaurant looks nice and inviting. We wanted a small, light lunch. We ordered 1 order of Vietnamese rolls which were terrible. They were rolled correctly in rice paper but they were filled with lettuce, with one tiny shrimp. The traditional tasty ingredients were missing and for that we were charged ¥48. Ridiculous. We also ordered a soup with a coconut cream base. It was ¥58 for a small pot (enough for the 2 of us, however). There was kafir lime, lemongrass, chicken and mushrooms in it. However the soup was watery and uninteresting. We don’t recommend this restaurant, even if you must have a fix of Thai food.

2.3   Dinner

2.3.1     HR: Liu's Family Restaurant (aka: Liu Zhai Shi Fu), 8 Jiangjia Dayuan Hutong, E. Jingshan (Outer NE Forbidden City), Dong Cheng, tel. (86-10) 6400-5912. We spent ¥109 for the two of us. This was a traditional courtyard dining experience and we thoroughly enjoyed it (although we weren’t the only foreigners). We sat in a small room on the side of the courtyard that was air conditioned (and no one was smoking). The service was good, although the food came when it was ready, not all at once. We ordered the Jasmine tea (¥20) and a (00162) fermented bean soup with crisp rings (¥5) that was stinky, unusual and not to our liking (although the rings were crunchy and good). For our main we had the (0014) stewed rabbit with Chinese herbs (¥48) that was described as “The pseudo-ginseng a kind of precious medicinal materials is stewed with rabbit meat which can nurture the liver, improving eyesight, supplement the Qi, activate the blood and benefit the kidney. The ingredients are pseudo-ginseng, yams, codonopsis, Chinese wolfberry and red dates.” It was huge and it was yummy. The rabbit was on the bone and the stew juice was excellent. We also had (0100) quick fried assorted vegetarian delicious (¥28) that was also tasty. For dessert we had (00159) dates in honey sauce (¥8) that were perfect.

We had a delicious but expensive (for us) second dinner. We ordered the Jasmine tea (¥20). For our main, we ordered the “Sole in the vinegar sauce #00003” which we didn’t see was sold by the kilogram. It turned out to cost ¥134 for a scrumptious fish (that may have been turbot, actually). Another expensive dish we ordered was ¥50 and called “Liuzhai style special (Not Dipped with chopsticks, tooth or plate)” The description said: “Raw materials: pure egg and minced chicken with delicious smooth and tender mouthfeel which belongs to a traditional old Beijing dishes, a famous dish of Cuihua Restaurant of old Beijing.” It was amazing with a “smooth and tender mouthfeel;” it was a cross between a glutinous egg pudding and cake but not sweet (it was a very nice accompaniment to our fish). We also had “Sautéed Bean Curd Peking Style #00070” (¥22) that was actually bean sprout and was very good. We also ordered the “Rice fried with soya sauce” (¥10) that wasn’t special. For dessert we had (#00159) dates in honey sauce (¥8) that were perfect.

2.3.2     HR: Jin Ding Xuan (Golden Tripod Attic), 77 Hepingli Xijie, Lama Temple (Outer N 2nd Ring Rd), Next to Tango; south gate of Ditan Park, Dong Cheng tel. 6429-6888, http://en.jindingxuan.com.cn/. By the south end of Ditan Park, this place is ginormous. This is a link to a photo of the building from the outside: http://www.fototime.com/CBEA672C162E2DF/standard.jpg
We spent ¥162 and ate far too much but it was delicious and fun. The menus are ginormous too. And they are fascinating. One of them has pages of Cantonese cold dishes, followed by Shandong cold dishes, Sichuan cold dishes, Huaiyang cold dishes and then the different cuisine types repeat with seafood dishes and meat dishes and poultry dishes. Yes, the menu goes on and on. Then there is a shellfish menu too. We decided to try some Huaiyang cold dishes: “lotus root, stuffed with glutinous rice and syrup” ¥19.8 and “dried bean curd with vegetable” ¥19.8. The lotus root was very good and not too sweet. The dried bean curd was a bit dry but the taste was very good. We also had some dim sum: a rice flour roll with vegetables ¥9.8 that was very good and shrimp rolls ¥9.8 that were filled with delicious shrimp. We had one order of inedible Sichuan noodles—they were too spicy to eat. We had a Shandong cold dish: black fungus Anhui style ¥19.8 that was good and so was the sauce. We had one order of fried clams with ginger and spring onion ¥28.6 that were very tasty and tender. As for sweets, we had 3: black sesame cream ¥9.8, deep-fried peanut and walnut deep fried cake and a deep-fried glutinous rice flour stuffed with red bean. All were good but the black sesame cream and deep-fried glutinous rice flour cake stuffed with red beans were stand-outs.

2.3.3     HR: Laohuji, 12 Zhushikou Dong Dajie (near the intersection of Qinian Dajie), Dong Cheng, Beijing, tel. 6707-2803. We spent ¥107. We happened on this restaurant by chance and we were very happy we did. It describes its food as “Old Beijing” and we enjoyed it. The room is large and there are traditional dark wood tables with (non-padded) chairs in the center. Along the sides are booths. We learned that they were having a special on Peking Duck for ¥58 but we decided to have other dishes. We ordered a “Braised chicken in crock” for a very reasonable ¥26. It came first and was absolutely delicious. It was full of chestnuts and the chicken and the sauce were excellent. We ordered a “Fried Diced Flour with Soy Sauce” for ¥12 instead of rice and it turned out to be a very good spaetzle. We also ordered “peanuts in crusted [which we think means aged] vinegar” for ¥6 that we really liked. We have seen this item on other menus but hadn’t tried it. We were glad we did. The peanuts are crunchy and have cubed sweet pepper with them adding another kind of crunch. The vinegar adds to the flavor. The order was huge and we had enough to take home. For many days the peanuts stayed crunchy and good. Another dish we ordered we had never seen on a menu. It was called “Beijing Flavor Jelly in Big Bowl” for ¥15. It was a large bowl of cubed pieces of dense jelly-like things. They were in a chili sauce and it was good but not good enough to take what we couldn’t eat home with us. The last dish to arrive was a magnificent cauldron of mushrooms in a delicious soup called “Assorted mushrooms with chrysanthemum” for ¥48. We were so full by the time it arrived that we could hardly do justice to it. We took most of it home and had several mushroom soup lunches afterwards that were wonderful. A great place!

2.3.4     HR: Kong Yi Ji (Zhejiang cuisine), 322 Dongsi No. St., south of Dongsi 6th Alley (Dongsi area, Inner E. 2nd Ring Rd.), Dong Cheng, Beijing, tel. 6404-0507, web: www.kyjjl.com. We spent ¥146 for two and had 6 dishes. We went because we wanted to try Zhejiang cuisine and we had a great meal. We kept ordering dishes (from a menu—without pictures—in English) because they sounded so interesting and different. We were rewarded with new tastes that were delicious. First we ordered a pu’er tea (¥20) that was good. We saw the most charming holders on most tables for wine—Shaoxing Yellow Rice Wine, as it turned out. We were given a taste and it was good.

To start we ordered the “Braised Pork Brisket with Brown Sauce” (¥10). It is served in a tiny ceramic pot and has 4 small pieces of pork belly in it that were excellent. It was the perfect amount of that very rich dish for the two of us. We saw on the menu that there was a “Stewed crab with rice wine sauce” (¥15) and had to try it. It was one small cold crab cut in half. To eat it, you sucked on the crab and there was a succulent crab taste accented by a slightly sweet, winey flavor. Yum! For our main, we ordered “Xihn Lake Fish” or Stewed (West Lake) Fish with Vinegar (¥38). It was a large river fish (with small, but manageable bones). The sauce was exquisite. It was a thick sweet vinegar sauce that was almost glutinous. It was not sweet; it was made with sweet vinegar, if you know what I mean. It was a triumph and we had enough to take home for a second meal. With the fish we had “Braised Bamboo Shoots” (¥28) that were very good. We saw a dish we love on the menu and decided to order that too. It was “Steamed Clam with Egg” (¥25) and we usually find it on Cantonese menus. This one was really good, light and flavorful with enough sweet clams to be interesting. For dessert, we had “Glutinous Rice Balls with Wine Sauce” (¥4 x2) was a good, sweet soup. This was one of our best and most interesting meals in Beijing.

The restaurant has an inviting exterior and a traditional design for the interior. There is a bust of Sun Yat-Sen in the entry way. Very pleasant (although it was chilly inside--until we started eating). The service was great and the food came quickly and was hot. There are No Smoking signs on the walls (although people violated them) and “Beijing Patriotic Health Campaign Committee” No Smoking Plastic signs on the tables. When asked, our neighboring table, quickly put out their cigarettes.

2.3.5.   HR (with a caveat): Beijing Minghao, Noble Seafood,  No. 1 Chaoyangmen N. St, New Poly Plaza, Dongsishitiao area at the southwest corner of Dongsishitiao Bridge (E 2nd Ring Rd), Dong Cheng, tel. 6408-2399, web: www.shnoble.com. We would never have gone to this restaurant had we known how expensive it was. Our companions said it could be the most expensive restaurant in Beijing. We were very careful in our ordering and managed to keep our bill to ¥460 for four people. Having said all of that, the food was fabulous and the place is beautiful. (Our Chinese friends said it looked to them like what a French restaurant should look like.) The restaurant wanted to put us in a private room but we don’t like that so we sat in the front room of the restaurant that had other tables (but was not full on a Saturday night). Have a look at us at our table by going to this link: http://www.fototime.com/34D0874918898CE/standard.jpg.

The first dish we ordered was a pan seared fois gras (¥99, I think) that was exquisite. We managed to cut it in 4 pieces and each of us tried the sublime morsel. You can see the dish by going to this link: http://www.fototime.com/087F1CA6D452280/standard.jpg.
We also ordered a prawn dish that was delicious. Have a look at this dish by going to this link: http://www.fototime.com/3A60A83D831CB15/standard.jpg. The next dish to arrive was a tender and tasty meat casserole. It is pictured on this link: http://www.fototime.com/91AF9A2055DB334/standard.jpg. Man, that dish was good! This is a link to a picture of our vegetable dish that everyone liked very much: http://www.fototime.com/97456377C3B4B98/standard.jpg. The last dish to arrive was the rice dish (Imperial style, we think, to arrive at the end of the meal). It may have been our favorite dish. This is a link to the photo of that dish (in the process of being prepared by the server): http://www.fototime.com/70DA7F53CF550F9/standard.jpg. It had very crunchy rice on the bottom of the pot (which we love and have, in the past, only found in the Korean dish bibimbap) and delicious ingredients. It was a very yummy dish.

With our dinner we were served very reasonably priced tea (¥5 per person) that was good. After the rice dish was finished, with a flourish the servers brought 4 plates under silver domes of carved fruit for us (complimentary) that had ripe and sweet fruit for each of us. We recommend this restaurant highly but be careful ordering. The restaurant could bankrupt you.

2.3.6     R: Hang Heung Kitchen (Roast Restaurant), CC36 B1, Oriental Plaza, No. 1 East Chang An Ave., Dong Cheng District, Beijing, tel. (010)8515-2378. We had a good roast dinner for ¥84 for 2. We ordered the “two barbecued items with rice” for ¥32 (we chose steamed chicken and honey barbecued pork), the braised vegetable combination with tofu (¥32), and, for dessert a red bean ice cream float with shaved ice (¥20). It was all good enough. Fortunately no one was smoking near us. Another time we went, we ordered the barbecue sample for ¥108 and it was great. It comes with Honey Barbecue Pork, Roast Pork, Soya Chicken and Barbeque Duck. The plate was more than enough for 2 and each item was delicious. We also had a mixed vegetable with tofu that was very standard and good (¥32) and rice (¥6). Another time that we ate there we had the suckling pig. It was fabulous! Each other time we’ve eaten at this restaurant we’ve had a good, honest and inexpensive meal.

2.3.7     R: My Humble House, Beijing Oriental Plaza, Podium Level (Sky Avenue), W3 (Office Towers Unit 01-07), No. 1 East Chang’An Ave., Dong Cheng District, Beijing, Tel.010-8518-8811, web: mhh@tunglok.com. This is a restaurant that we typically would not go to, thinking that it’s too expensive. We decided to try it and we were glad we did. We spent ¥102 (including 10% service automatically added to the bill) and had a delicious meal and plenty of food. The space was large and beautifully designed. We sat in the non-smoking area at one end of a large, long table. The other tables looked uncomfortable. Those tables were for two people and were low and had easy chairs draped with an animal skin to sit on (that were too far away from their tables). The room was lined with bookshelves and was a pleasant space. We shared everything, as usual. We had one #69 “I’d Hold Your Hand Again Tonight” for ¥38. It was described as “fried homemade vegetable bean curd with braised honshimeiji mushrooms and dried scallops”. It was a delicate dish with excellent flavor. For our other dish we ordered #58 “Stardust in the Willowing Wind” for ¥52. It was described as a “marinated fillet of fish steamed with spicy black bean chili sauce”. The fish was a little on the dry side but the taste of the dish was very good. We found the service to be a little “disconnected:” the dishes did not come out together and we had to wait too long for the rice after our food arrived. At such a “refined” restaurant, the kitchen should get all dishes for the main course out at the same time. The service should have been better too.

2.3.8     R: Jinyangshuang Lai, 100 Dongshikou, Dong Cheng District, tel. 6513-2668. We spent ¥86 and enjoyed ourselves. We really liked this restaurant. It is lit-up outside and it looks inviting. There are private rooms in the front. In the back there is a large room with booths (the tables are uncomfortably far from the seats so they have pillows). It has brick walls with art work and the place looks like a courtyard house. We had the only real table with chairs. Each table has a red salvia plant on it and that looks great. It is a Shanxi restaurant and the noodles were fabulous. Each dish that we ordered had a different kind in it and it was difficult to choose a favorite. For our main we had “Assorted delicious with Shanxi flavor ¥36” and it was assorted delicious. It had meat balls and pork belly in it as well as noodles and vegetables. We also had “Fried noodles with Shuanglai flavor ¥16” which was really good. We also had “Fried vegetables with unique flavor ¥22” that was very good too. Upstairs is an art gallery and an artist willing to write a guest’s name in Mandarin on a scroll for free. It was a lovely dinner and very easy to get to on bus 108 or 111.

2.3.9     R: Long Yuan Tang, 6-1 Xiang'er Hutong, Jiaodaokou area (Inner N 2nd Ring Rd.), Dong Cheng, Beijing, tel. 8404-9502 (First hutong southwest of Beixinqiqo Subway Station). We spent ¥92 for 2. This is an atmospheric courtyard house with nice decorations on the walls. We were going to sit in the main dining room but there was a big table of 6 very loud men drinking. We chose to sit in a private room at a big table (no one joined us there). We went because we wanted to try food from Guangxi. We liked the food and (unlike the reviewer on the mobileNative website) we did not think it was too light or lacked flavor. We also liked that tea was served without charge (an usual practice in Beijing.) We chose the eggplant slices (¥26) which were stuffed and fried. They came out hot and were very good. We also ordered the frog in a casserole (¥48) which was truly delicious and the fried rice (¥18) that was very good. We had a lot of food to take home and enjoyed eating it again the second time. This is a link to a photo of the dishes we ordered: http://www.fototime.com/F3AF44B02BA86C9/standard.jpg.

2.3.10  R: Restaurant called something like Big Porridge Pot, 25 Deng Shi Kou Dajie near the corner of Dongdan Street North at the Deng Shi Kou Station on Line 5, Dong Cheng District, tel.400 660 6629, 6512-8016 . We spent ¥71 and had a good meal in a simple restaurant. We had “Soybeans with Potherb Mustard” for ¥3 (the mustard greens were too bitter and they got stuck in our teeth), “marinated radish in sesame paste” for ¥6 that was crunchy and tasty, Dragon Well tea (¥20) that was not flavorful, fried black fungus with lotus root and green pepper (¥18) that was good enough, Stewed Yellow croaker (3 small fish) marinated with corn cake (¥26) that was very good in a thick and delicious sauce. Even though they fish had small bones, it was easy to eat and quite tasty. (We had originally ordered another fish that cost (¥20) but they were out of it (“mayo”) so we ordered this dish instead and were not charged the additional cost.) The corn cake must have been some breading but it wasn’t obvious. We ordered ice sago and mung bean with lily congee (¥8) that wasn’t sweet and wasn’t particularly good for dessert. We also ordered one chicken with mushroom congee to take home (“da bao”) for breakfast for the next day that was very good ¥6.

2.3.5.   R: Xiao Nan Guo (Shanghai Spring), Oriental Plaza, LG, CC18, Dong Cheng District, Beijing, service center: 400-820-9777, web: www.xiaoanguo.com. We spent ¥103 for two. There were lots of foreigners (but we were eating in a mall, so what should we have expected?)  This is a branch of the same restaurant that we ate at in Hong Kong as well as in Shanghai. Both of those meals were very good. In Beijing we thought that the food was too expensive and the restaurant was a little pretentious. We were careful in ordering so that we didn’t spend too much. We had Grandma’s Meat Pot for ¥58. The menu said: “It is made in traditional and ancient cooking method without any excessively touch of greasiness”. We also had gluten pot with chicken feather vegetable for ¥28, Rice for ¥5 and Chrysanthemum tea for ¥12. It was a good meal.

2.3.6.   R: Spicy Grandma, apm mall, 6th floor of Beijing APM Plaza (or Sun Dong An Plaza), 138 Wangfujing Dajie, Dong Cheng District, Beijing tel. 6468-7480, , www.lapopo.net or www.tcsl.com.cn. We spent ¥124-ish and it was very good. We had a nice table with comfortable chairs. Not all of the seating would have been comfortable. The restaurant is huge with lots of comfortable private rooms. The décor is very pretty, delicate and original, with traditional flavors. There is a large paper dragon hanging from the ceiling as you walk into the main dining room. The walls have uncomfortable banquettes with sofas instead of seats. In the second row are tables that have very designy chairs that are very uncomfortable wooden seats and backs that rock. In the middle, on a raised platform, under wooden structures that look like traditional house roofs are more tables. We ordered Poached fish with chili sauce (¥58). The fish dish was huge and full of Sichuan peppers that exploded with flavor. We also ordered Fried Chinese yam (more like water chestnut) with black fungus (¥18), rice, Jasmine tea (¥18), deep fried steamed bread for ¥6 (just bread with sweet condensed milk to dip it in) and Ciba black sesame crust around chewy rice ball for ¥6. It was a good meal with very good service (and lots of leftovers to take home).

2.3.7.   R: Ao Xin Garden Sichuan Restaurant, Shuaifuyan Hutong (across from Quanjude), Wangfujing Daijie, Dong Cheng District, tel. 010-6523-6318. We spent ¥71 and it was okay. It’s a very simple place and we had an eggplant dish called Fish Flavored eggplant pot for ¥18 and Cumin (onion explodes the lamb) for ¥38, rice and tea. We were disappointed because the lamb dish had no cumin taste and the onion didn’t explode.

2.3.8.       R: Xinjiang Feng Wei, on the corner of Chaoyangmen North Alley and Donsi 5th Alley (Area Donsi (Inner E. 2nd Ring Rd.), 100010 Dong Cheng District, no telephone). We spent ¥55 and had a very good meal. It’s a hole-in-the wall with indoor and a few outdoor seats in the alley. The grill is fired up and most people have kebabs. We spent ¥55 and had a delicious meal in an air conditioned indoor room (with not too much smoking). We had the grilled mutton gigot (2 x ¥12) that were full of meat and wonderfully spiced. They were tender and meaty legs. We had the corn dish with pine nuts that was delicious with a hint of sweetness (¥16) and 3 other sides: sautéed Xinjiang Fengwei pancakes (¥4) that were herbed bread, ban luobasi (¥5) that was a shredded radish and tasty and we had cold flammulina (¥6) that was cucumber with straw mushrooms in a good dressing. It was much too much food for us and we had lots to take home.

2.3.9.     R: Le Zhi Shan Town Fashion Leisure Restaurant, Oriental Shopping Plaza, CC10A, Dong Cheng District, tel. 010-8518-0568, web: www.xishu.cc. We spent ¥126 and had an enjoyable meal with very good service. The restaurant is modern with gaudy Cantonese chandeliers but avant-garde lights over each table. The booths are comfortable only because you can move the table close to the banquette (and we sat on only one side to be comfortable that way). The service was good but the kitchen sent the food out as the dishes were ready which meant that we were trying to wait until everything arrived and covering dishes with plates to keep them warm. Because tea was so expensive on the menu (¥ 38) we asked for hot water which was free and just fine for us. We had #2220 “Sautéed eggplant with shredded meat from Hubei province” ¥36. It was delicious. The other dish we ordered was #2112 a “Cantonese Baked fish head with satay sauce” for ¥48. It was a stew of breaded fish in a sauce that had no peanut taste at all. The sauce was, however, very good. We had one rice and enough food to take home for another meal. For dessert we had the #4119 “crisp black rice pancakes” for ¥24. They were a bit greasy but good and kind of like Thai sticky rice without the mango and without the coconut cream. We ordered two of the congees on the menu to take home for breakfast the next day. One was a traditional preserved egg and pork congee (¥9) and the other was a slightly sweet pumpkin congee (¥6) both were good.

We returned because we remembered that they had a fish head soup on the menu and that’s what we wanted. This is a restaurant with Hebei dishes on the menu. We started with “Hebei Steamed Small Cakes” #4139 (¥18). These were actually deep-fried but were good and crunchy nonetheless. For our main, we chose “Steamed Fish Head with Mixed Flavor from Hebei Province” #3124 (¥88) and were told it was spicy. We asked for it to be medium spicy. It was outrageously spicy. It was gigantic but we could eat only a little and we ended up leaving most of it. We also ordered the “Braised Eggplant with Wax Bean” #2245 (¥32) which was good and a little spicy. This wasn’t our best meal.

2.3.10.  R: Ri Chang (also known as Otto's Restaurant), 72 Dongdan Beidajie, Dong Cheng, tel. 6525-1783, web: www.bj-rc.com. This restaurant was recommended to us by someone who worked in the area. It’s a tiny place with 40 seats downstairs and a line of people waiting (it has an upstairs too). We waited 35 minutes and ordered before we were seated. We spent ¥71 and had a delicious meal. It is described as Cantonese on the Native Beijing website [http://www.mobilenative.com/]. It looked a little different from standard Cantonese to us. We had one Spareribs in iron pot ¥32 that was full of bite-sized pieces of meat (that were very chewy), onions, garlic and a superb sauce. With that we had a cauliflower, bamboo pith and gogi berry dish ¥32 that was covered in a gelatinous seaweed. It made for a very good and unusual dish. We had 2 rice as well. We ordered a drink that we saw on the other tables. Its base was coconut milk and it was filled with fresh fruit (melons and bananas), tapioca pearls and jelly cubes (¥16). It was served in a pitcher with a ladle and bowls. It was wonderfully refreshing and both a drink and a dessert. The meal was worth waiting for (and they have other outlets around the city).

2.3.11.   R: Red Stone Restaurant, Hong Shi Tou Can Ting, 68 Dongdan North St., Dong Cheng, tel. 010-6526-8755. We have been to this restaurant several times and each time we had good food. The first time we went, we spent ¥132. It is Hangzhou cuisine and according to Wikipedia it “wins reputation for freshness, tenderness, softness, smoothness of its dishes with mellow fragrance. A great poet of Song Dynasty once praised it as follows: there’s no food that can compare with the Hangzhou cuisine.”
We had Cold Blended wild caraway (¥16) which was an interesting dish. For our main we had Hangzhou flavor superior dish stewed chicken in stone pot (¥48) that was huge and delicious. With that we had the sautéed eggplant with mushrooms and broccoli (¥22) which was also good. For dessert we had boiled glutinous rice ball in fermented glutinous rice (¥16). This dish was huge and we had plenty of everything to take home.

2.3.12.  R: Xi Shu dou Hua Zhuang, New Style Sichuan Cuisine--Western Sichuan, Oriental Plaza CC16, Dong Cheng District, tel. 010-8518-5288 . We spent ¥176 and had a nice meal. It was very crowded and popular with many Westerners. The food was good, not great. The service was good, although the food came when it was ready, serially, which we really don’t like. The table cloth was wet (no sense in spending time drying those things) which is very annoying. We ordered pu’er tea for ¥36, what we think of as an exorbitant price. We had (#2109) Hot and Sour Vermicelli (cold) ¥18. The noodles disintegrated when you tried to pick them up so they weren’t al dente enough for us. We also had (#4120) Fried Diced Veal with Yam for ¥58 that was delicious. The meat was tender and tasty. With that we had (#8109) crispy (fried) pancake for ¥28 and fungus and water chestnut ¥36.

2.3.13.  R: Qin Tang Fu, 128 Dongsi  Beidajie (North ) St., Dong Cheng District, tel. 010-6407-1211. We spent ¥52 and had a good meal. It’s a short walk from Line 5 Zhangzizhonglu station. There weren’t too many people in the restaurant while we were there. It is nicely decorated with atmospheric wall decorations from Shanxi. The tables are replicas of period tables (with no padding). We sat in front of the one air conditioner and it was comfortable. Each table has a wicker basket under it but we didn’t find out why. We spent a very reasonable ¥52 for one buckwheat noodle dish (served cold) and one dumpling soup. Both of which were good. We were also served two juice like drinks that were okay. It was fine (particularly for the price). We didn’t see any handmade noodle making (for which Shanxi is famous) while we were there.

The editor of Native said this about the wicker baskets: “The wicker baskets are for your bags (or jackets I suppose).  Chinese people in general hate to have their things touch the ground.  You've probably noticed that whenever they sit on a public bench, or anything that isn't a seat that is regularly cleaned, they will almost uniformly put down a plastic bag, newspaper, or something else to sit on.  I haven't seen this at other restaurants, but I guess it's a way of keeping people from taking up seats with their bags.” 

2.3.14.  R: Hunan Restaurant, South of Lishi Hutong near Newubu Jie,  143-1 Chaoyangmen Nan Xiaojie, Dong Cheng District, Beijing, tel. 8165-6661. This restaurant is small and has very comfortable chairs and tables. Its card says that it serves “Hutong Specialities: Steamed Food and Hot Wok Dishes”. We ordered lots of dishes and still the bill was just ¥71. The stir fried rice noodles with vegetables (¥15) were good, the griddle cooked cucumber slices (¥16) came cooking on a brazier and were interesting and unusual—neither cucumber nor zucchini—we’re not sure what it was, but it was good). The deep fried yellow fish (¥12) were crisp and sweet. Served with the fish was “Spice, Salt, Pepper” that you can buy in a spice bottle at the supermarket. It is great (but a little too salty)! The house special braised pork (¥22) was awful. The pork was really fatty bacon on top of really salty stuff. The pancake with shredded shallot (¥6) was dry and had no shallots in it. We also had some meat kebabs from the independent operator at the doorway (¥5) that were very good. We were glad we found this restaurant.

2.3.15.   R: South Beauty, Oriental Plaza Shopping Mall, Shop BB88, 1 Chang An, Dong Cheng District, Beijing, tel. 8518-6971.  We went because as a resident of The Tower Apartments at Oriental Plaza we got a 20% discount. There are interesting design features and it’s a nice space. They ask if you want non-smoking and if you do, you are put in a private room. We didn’t want to be isolated so we sat in the main (smoking) area but were not bothered by the smokers around us. We had a very good dish called “Steamed Duck in home-made sauce served with lotus leaf pancakes” ¥88. It was a whole (small) duck which the server cut for us. The dish had lots of vegetables and the sauce was delicious. The duck was tender and tasty. The pancakes were actually tiny, soft bread-like things that didn’t add much to the dish. We enjoyed the meal (with water, not tea). With rice and a ¥10 service charge, the bill was ¥103 - ¥18 for the (20% discount) and so the total was a very reasonable ¥85 for a meal with enough food (even enough extra to take home).

2.3.16.  R: Crystal Jade Palace Restaurant (Fei Cui Shan Fang), Room BB82, Basement Level, Oriental Plaza, 1 East Chang'An Ave., Dong Cheng, Beijing, tel. 8515-0238. We spent ¥270 for two. We had a very nice meal in this restaurant. It is pretty enough that we had a photo of us taken there. We spent more than we typically do but we enjoyed our meal. We had “Baked Silver Cod with Gravy #1917” (¥48) that was very good. We also ordered the “Braised Mixed Superior Vegetables with Bamboo Shoots #2408” (¥75), “Rice with Seafood in Lobster Broth #2517” (¥42), and “Taiwan Dried #0203” (¥48) because we had no idea what that could be. They were all very good and pretty enough to take a picture of. You can see it by going to this link:
A pot of tea (called Dining Hall Tea) is available for a reasonable ¥5 per person (unusual in Beijing and we loved it at that price). We had “Chilled Mango Pudding with Sago Cream and Pomelo #0311” for dessert. It was good. There is 10% service added to the bill. The service was attentive.
2.3.17.  R (with a caveat): No. 44 Private Kitchen, No. 44 Xiguan Hutong (50m west of No.5 Middle School south gate), Jiaodaokou (Inner N 2nd Ring Rd), Dong Cheng District, tel. 6400-1280.We spent about ¥146 and it was good but not worth repeating.

We went because of the write up on Native [http://www.mobilenative.com/record.php?poi_id=dYc7jzxwIIs%3D] and because the last time we had food from Guangxi, Guizhou we liked it. We did not have tea because the cheapest was ¥30 which we thought was too expensive for an unpretentious place. The courtyard house is atmospheric in a quirky way--it has Australian aboriginal art on the wall, along side of newspaper articles of Mao. We sat in the one heated room and it was very comfortable. The furniture was traditional and the seats had pads. We chose the small Sour Soup Stewed with fish (¥48). In Native it said: "Inside this quaint private residence, a humble chef cooks up unique, authentic cuisine of southern China's Miao people.

The "secret recipe" sour soup dominated our lunch-time meal. Now I've had Guizhou tomato-based sour soups before at hotpot places like Guizhou Luoluo, but this soup is just so much more complex than anything I've tasted previously. No. 44 Private Kitchen brews their soup over fifteen days, allowing a light fermentation and for the raw spice of the peppercorns to fully infuse the broth; there is no water added. We tried a large bowl of the sour tomato-based broth with mixed mushrooms (68RMB). At first we were blown away by the spice, asking our server for napkins to wipe away our tears and white rice to help our taste buds recover. As the endorphins started to wash over us in reaction to the first bowl's spice, the soup became more enjoyable. I was able to better appreciate the curious blend of fermentation, mala spice, and sour tomato broth. The mushrooms, saturated in the broth, were fantastically delectable as well. After about three small bowls each of the powerful soup, our sinuses were clear and our bellies were warm from the heat of the pepper."

It was tasty but for us ultimately too spicy to be enjoyable. The small size was large and large enough for our main course. We also ordered the House Potato Pancake (¥48) which was supposed to have meat in it but we couldn't taste any. For a humble potato pancake it was good but for ¥48 it wasn't worth the price. For our vegetable we ordered the Private Kitchen BBQ styled aubergine (¥48). It was an unusual roll of eggplant filled with vegetables. The only thing that resembled BBQ was a dab of barbecue sauce on top of the roll.

The rice we ordered was mushy. This wasn't our best meal but it wasn't our worst either.

2.3.18.  NR: Macau Taste, Oriental Plaza, Dong Cheng District, tel. 8518-5456. It is extremely small and really a snack place. We had a disappointing dinner there. We ordered the Portuguese roast ¥52 that was a stewed duck. It was not good--too chewy. We also had Portuguese strains of fresh milk ¥39 that was a mushroom au gratin type of thing that was okay. For dessert we tried the Macau milk stew ¥12. It was okay.

2.3.19.  NR: Chamate, FF12, Lower Ground Level in the Food Forum, Oriental Plaza Shopping Mall, 1 Chang An, Dong Cheng District, Beijing, tel. 85186067, web: www.chatea.cn. We had a non-descript meal in a corner of the Food Forum area of Oriental Plaza Shopping Mall. The restaurant has pretentions with respect to tea.

2.3.20.  NR: Shun Fung, No. 34 Donghuamen St, Wangfujing (Outer E Forbidden City, 50m west of Wangfujing Street; south side of the street),Dong Cheng District, tel.65245833, 8008106108, 4008106108, e-mail:shunfung@shunfung.com, web:www.shunfung.com. We spent ¥228 and had a good enough meal. We wanted a no smoking section so they took us upstairs. It is a nice room upstairs, large with a high ceiling and there was a no smoking sign. Some people were smoking, however. They were far enough away and the room was large enough so it didn’t bother us. The service was okay and the food was very good. We started with a delicious Roast Pigeon (¥48) and the next dish to come was the Deep Fried Goose’s Liver (¥128). The liver itself was delicious although slightly overcooked. The sauce with it actually detracted. There was also a deep fried potato thing with the liver that was crispy and good. The last dish to arrive was “Lettuce with stuffing home style” (¥48) that was really good. You stuffed a piece of iceberg lettuce with the filling and chomped it down. The tea was a reasonably priced ¥6 for a pot of jasmine. So why don’t we recommend this restaurant. It was annoying but go try it for yourself.

2.3.21.   NR: Guo Yao Xiao Ju, 58 Bei Santiao, Jiaodao Kou, Andingmennei Dajie, Dong Cheng District, tel. 6403-1940. Another disappointing meal recommended by Eileen Mooney (www.eileeneats.com). This is listed under her favorite restaurants. It is small: 3 rooms—2 rooms with one large table in each for 8 and one room with 2 tables for 4. There was a group in one large room and we had the room with 2 tables to ourselves. The room was nicely decorated and the chairs were comfortable enough. The traditional furniture was nice-looking. We wanted to have the specials of fish maw in rich broth (¥55) but the minimum order was 2 so we said “no” and ordered the Lionshead (meatball made from crabmeat and minced pork) for ¥20. We also ordered “Yasi Danjuan” egg roll filled with chives and shredded duck ¥19. Eileen Mooney described is as a crispy crêpe but it is more like an egg roll. It was good. The third dish was Dry fried French beans ¥16. The French beans came first and they were good. Then came the egg roll which was also good. Lastly a tiny ceramic bowl came with a big meat ball in broth. The broth was insipid and the meat ball tasted like spam with no crab taste whatsoever. For dessert we had the peanut paste ¥10 which also caused a huge discussion because the minimum order was for 2. We said “no” and insisted on having only one which finally was agreed to. The dish was a bowl of peanut milk and we had a few tastes and left the rest. We certainly would not recommend this restaurant.

2.3.22.  NR: Hui Shang Gu Li (Huishang Birthplace), No. 2 Chaoyangmen S. St., (Chaoyangmen: Inner 2nd Ring Rd.), Dong Cheng, Beijing, tel. 5864-2222. We spent ¥168 for 2. We went because we wanted to try Anhui cuisine. The building and décor (elegant, even fancy) of the restaurant are impressive but the food was not. It appears to be a restaurant that is all show and little substance. We selected items from the portion of the menu entitled “Delicacies from Ancient Huizhou”. The food took a very, very long time to arrive. We had a fish stew with roe, fish stomach and a little bit of diced fish pieces (¥56) which was good and a little spicy. We ordered one jelly ball made of beans because the picture looked interesting(¥8) and was not in actually at all interesting. (We were brought 2 and charged for 2.)  We ordered rice in a bamboo container because it, too, looked interesting (¥12) but was not. We ordered a vegetable dish that was recommended by Hui She, the sales manager. It was celery with string mushrooms (¥48) and it was not tasty. We were not going to order tea because a pot was more expensive than we wanted to spend. Hui She gave us a complimentary glass of their famous mountain tea (regular price ¥58 per glass). It was not special to us. We also ordered a pancake dish that we thought was for dessert but turned out to be a savory (¥12).  

2.3.23.  NR: Before and After Restaurant, Nan Xin Cang, Dongmencang Hutong, Nanxincang Imperial Granary, Bldg 0 #A13 (near New Poly Plaza), Dong Cheng,  tel. 6405-9598, web: baa-restaurant.com. We think that this is a Taiwanese restaurant. We had an okay, light lunch for ¥66. The room is okay too. It wasn’t crowded but the service lacked something. The server brought us peanuts and a pickled vegetable immediately. We like that. We ordered one Zongzi stuffed with braised pork Taiwanese style (¥10) which was like the glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaf usually served at dim sum (zoa cha). It was good. We ordered 1 Intestine stuffed with glutinous rice (¥32) that was 6 or 8 slices of sausage filled with glutinous rice. This is a dish we hadn’t had before but it wasn’t something we’d seek out again either. The third dish we ordered was leek and pork buns (¥24). The buns were slightly sweet and the filling was okay. We drank hot water for free instead of paying too much for tea.

2.3.24.  A: Crescent Moon Muslim Restaurant, Wangfujing, 16 Donsi Liutiao (100 m west of Chaonei Beixiaojie), Dong Cheng District, Beijing, tel. 6400-5281 (the Zhangzizhonglu No.5 Subway Station). We spent ¥101 and were totally disappointed. It was a fair distance from the Zhangzizhonglu No.5 Subway Station but it was on an atmospheric hutong alleyway. The City Weekend Magazine (Aug. 26-Sept. 8, 2010) said this about the restaurant: “Possibly the best Xinjiang joint in town, featuring delicious, homemade yogurt, this king of the kebabs also boasts a friendly all-Uighur staff and is as authentic as it gets.” …”Perfect for authentic Xinjiang.” The restaurant looked promising because the décor was “silk road-ish”. The servers were helpful and friendly but wait for our food was too long. The dishes came as they were ready. We ordered a yogurt ¥10 which we didn’t like because it was sweet. Then came the Xinjiang mixed vegetables which had a couple of pieces of a celery-type thing, a couple of pieces of green pepper and was mostly meat. It was very disappointing in taste and in ingredients. Then came the Xinjiang nan ¥5 which was hard and no matter how much sauce we dunked them in, the nan did not soften. A third disappointing item. Then came the main dish that we ordered: Stewed mutton with mixed potato and carrots (¥48). It was a good dish with lots of sauce but not good enough to make up for the other disappointing dishes. We accompanied our meal with the least expensive tea there; a black tea for ¥10. Based on the many delicious Xinjiang meals we had in Shanghai, we conclude that this is the worst Xinjiang joint in our experience.

3.            Chaoyang

3.1  Lunch

3.1.1     HR: Najia Xiaoguan, West of 119 High School, Yong'anli Jianguomenwei, Yong'an Xi Li, Jianwai (Outer E 2nd Ring Rd), Chaoyang, Back side of the New China Insurance Tower, tel. 6567-3663 or 6568-6553, www.najia.com.cn. We spent ¥222 for 3 people and had one of our best meals in Beijing. It’s an atmospheric 2-story house on a small street next to skyscraper buildings. We were on the second floor at a table made of slate on traditional chairs (that had pads). This is a photo of ALE and our friend, Ben, at our table: http://www.fototime.com/77CF642EA908910/standard.jpg
The service was okay. There were little cards on the table with the pictures of the servers on them. You could give feedback on the servers by putting the card into the appropriate box. We had 1 unusual soup-like pudding thing with 3 condiments that we liked. It was called Pot-braised Delicacies ¥35 and described as “The sauce Najia made is stewed more than eight hours from chicken, duck with more than three ages and scallop, upper part of the leg of pork. The customers who had tried this dish have gave much compliments about its flavor.” This is a link to a photo of the menu description of that dish: http://www.fototime.com/9F931E240A1032C/standard.jpg
We had 1 unusual cold appetizer roll with radish inside (12 pieces) called Poek rolls with vegetables (¥18) described as cabbage, caraway, carrot self-made pork taste, salty and crispy. This is a link to a photo of that dish: http://www.fototime.com/7861BA0363E7AD8/standard.jpg
We had a morel mushroom and fungus vegetable dish and a venison stew that was excellent. The venison stew ¥68 was described as: “Pot-braised venison” “Ingredients: venison, preserved vegetables, mushroom taste, salty and spiced. King Guangxu fell into depression because cannot achieve his political aspiration during his era. According to the medical records, Guangxu had the symptom of black rheumatic jerks, spermatorrhea and hypodynamia. The imperial doctor Xigeng cooked deer’s meat meal as therapy diet in cooperation with the imperial chefs and achieve significant effects. According to these medical records, deer’s meat is moderate and has the function of invigorating the spleen and benefiting Qi and therefore good to human circulatory system and nervous system. The ‘Deer Meat Stewed in Pot’ made by Najia’s chef in according to the medical records is especially good in keeping you fit.” This is a link to a photo of the menu description of that dish: http://www.fototime.com/63D7B6C5CA01CD6/standard.jpg. This is a link to a photo of the vegetable dish and the venison stew: http://www.fototime.com/F1815BDABA2615F/standard.jpg
There was enough extra food to take home. We also had rice and, for dessert we had a deep fried milk ball. One of our best meals in Beijing!

On another occasion we had dinner at Najia with another couple. We were glad we made a reservation because on a Thursday night, it was packed. We spent ¥200 per couple and had a delicious meal.

3.1.2     R: Restaurant, 13-3 Huaweibeili, Chaoyang District, tel. 8777-1008. We spent ¥32 for a delicious, light lunch. This restaurant is down the street from Panjiayuan Glasses City—the eyeglass mall (Mingjing Yuan, East 3rd Ring Rd., 64 Nanlu, 43 Huaweibeili, Dongsanhuan Lu, Chaoyang District). It’s one of the few restaurants we have seen in the city that has live shellfish in Styrofoam boxes (or tanks). It’s a restaurant (with tablecloths). We had a combination of clams and snails in a very tasty sauce as well as cabbage in a tasteless sauce and rice. They served a liquid that tasted slightly medicinal (instead of tea and it was free). Our lunch was a very reasonably priced ¥32.

3.1.3     R: Yue Bei Hiro Cheng, Maison Mode, Gemdale Plaza Office, No.91 Jian Guo Road, Chaoyang District, tel. 010-8571 2366, e-mail: ybxc-008@sina.com. We spent ¥88 and had a lovely lunch with lovely service. The food is from Hong Kong and Guangdong. It’s a nice modern room. The chairs are cushiony and comfortable (if you are not seated on a sofa by the window wall). We had the soup special which was an okay chicken feet soup ¥16. We had three dim sums that were great: steamed honey bbq pork bun ¥12, steamed lia ozi stuffed with shrimp ¥22 and steamed rice rolls with bbq pork ¥22 and a steamed phoenix bun for dessert ¥12 that was very good.

3.1.4     R: Jia Yu, 9th Bldg., Yard A, No. 54 South Rd. of East Third Ring, Chaoyang District (in the same building as the Puhua Outpatient Clinic, near the intersection of Huatengyuan), tel. 8779-5955. We’ve had lunch at this restaurant twice and both times it was good. This is a link to a photo of the Steamed fish dice with pine nuts that we had one of the times we ate at this restaurant: http://www.fototime.com/01B0140A2A72454/standard.jpg
It is large with marble tables set up for hotpots. The first time we went we had the pancake and the mapo tofu probably costing altogether about ¥40.

3.1.5     R: Bellagio Joy City, tel. 010-5971-6529 B120 basement of Huamao Shopping Center, 81 Jianguo Lu, Chaoyang District, www.bellagiocafe.com.cn  We had a nice lunch for ¥71. We were pissed off, however, that 2 glasses of lemon-flavored water cost ¥32 and our main cost ¥33 for a spicy vermicelli with pork and mushrooms and cabbage; a stir fry that was good. We also wished we had known it was a Taiwanese chain that specializes in desserts. Beijing’s City Weekend magazine says this: “The classic of the late-night dessert scene really needs no introduction. We do wish the ices were more finely ground to justify the high prices.”

3.1.6      R: Hebei Restaurant, 798 Art Zone, 798 North Street, Chaoyang. It’s a pleasant place and well decorated. The chairs are too low for the tables however. We sat upstairs and had a delicious lunch for 4 people for ¥120. We had rabbit served on a brazier, egg pudding and green long beans in a garlic stir fry. We had rice and hot water.

3.1.7     R: Xiangzhuyan Restaurant, Tianzi Lu diagonally across from Lady's Street, Chaoyang District, tel. 8451-6099. The restaurant is nice looking and has large aquaria in the center with fresh fish. We chose the “Palace meat ball soup ¥58 which we thought was pricey. When it came it was huge and it was tasty. The broth was delicious and the meat balls and meat were good too. There was some dried fruit floating in it that added to the interest. We had (free) hot water with it.

3.1.8     R: Ji Wei Yuan Cantonese Cuisine, The Place B1, Shop 140 South Building, No. 9 Guanghua Rd. (Dongdaqiao Lu, Outer E. 2nd Ring Rd.), Chaoyang District, Tel. 5587-1500.  We spent ¥39 for a light lunch for two. This space used to be a Thai restaurant and has the decorations from that incarnation. The chairs were comfortable. The service was not good and the kitchen was slow. We went for some dim sum (zao cha) and they had some (but not a lot). We had things that looked like gyozas (¥9) that we good, pan fried baozi stuffed with pork (¥9), fried glutinous rice ball stuffed with lotus seed paste (¥9) and barbecued pork pie (¥12). The barbecued pork pie was the best.

3.1.9     R: Wu Da Niang Dumpling, Shop 1001 at Auchan, 195 Dongsihuan Zhonglu, Chaoyang District (close to Dajiaoting). We had a very good and reasonably priced  ¥12 lunch next to Auchan (but we needed the help of an English speaker to order what we wanted). We had one noodle soup ¥7, 2 bao for ¥1.5 and a seaweed dish ¥4. All good enough—and at the right place, at the right time, before we went grocery shopping at Auchan.

3.2   Dinner

3.2.1     R: Xiao Wang's Home Restaurant, Ritan Park, Chaoyang District, tel. 8561-7859. We spent ¥122 and had a tasty meal with bad service (that may have been the fault of the kitchen). The restaurant is atmospheric in a lovely location. We sat on the roof and the weather and the area were lovely, even romantic. It was full of expats, however, and that turned us off. The manager was German and that turned us off too. The dishes were served serially which we really hate. At the prices of this restaurant and its pretentions, all of the food for the main course should be served at the same time. The food, when it came, was delicious. We had a stewed bean curd with black mushrooms (¥22) and a steamed pork rib in a fabulous crust of black beans (¥69). The ribs were full of flavorful meat and the black beans added a hint of earthy sweetness. It was a remarkable combination. There was a lot of food and we had enough to take home. With our meal we had Chrysanthemum tea (¥22) and rice (¥10). The service has a lot of room for improvement but the food was excellent.

3.2.2     R: Yue Lu Mountain Dining, Jizhuangli Bldg. 1, West of Gongti 100 Bowling, next to Hotel G, Gongti Area (Outer E. 2nd Ring Rd.), Chaoyang, Beijing, tel. 6551-0806. We spent ¥123 and had a good meal. The taxi had a very difficult time finding this place, even looking at a map in Chinese so by the time we got there, we were stressed out. The room is large, with a high ceiling and lovely art work. It’s modern, the tables and chairs are comfortable and it looks trendy (with trendy-looking people eating there). We had crispy bamboo shoots (¥38) which came almost immediately (with nothing else). We expected them to be crispy--as in deep-fried. They were crispy as in fresh and were very good, and spicy. We also ordered “fried mutton chop Hunan style” ¥75 and the dish took a long time to arrive. But when it did the chops were excellent. The meat was tender and delicious. There was a fabulous salt/five spice mixture with the chops to dip them in. It made for a terrific combination. We also ordered “Miluojing style glutinous rice cornet” (¥5) which came with a bowl of sugar to dip the combination of red bean and glutinous rice in. The mixture had a slightly medicinal taste but DM liked it and that was good. It was a very good meal and worth the wait for the mutton.

3.2.3     R: Middle 8th, 9 Guanghua Rd., The Place (South Building), Floor 4, #404, Dongdaqiao Lu (Outer E 2nd Ring Rd.), Chaoyang, Beijing, tel. 6587-1431, e-mail: enfo.mingphoenix@gmail.com We spent ¥168 for two. It calls itself “typical Yunnan cuisine” and it’s a large space with windows looking out on the mall with the big overhead screen in the center of the mall visible. This restaurant is designed in white with a red wall and some red upholstered chairs. All of the chairs are very comfortable upholstered ones, some in white and some in red. There is a non-smoking area where no one was smoking. We ordered a combination Pu’er tea and chrysanthemum tea (¥26) that was good. For our food we ordered Boiled Rice Noodle with beef in pot (¥18) which turned out to be the only dish that was spicy. For such a tiny pot, it had plenty of noodles. We also ordered the Fried Potherbs wrapped in leaf of banana (¥26) which was very good. The potherbs were a Swiss chard type of green and the flavors were delicious. The main dish we ordered was braised lamb chops with mushrooms (¥68, I think) and it was really good. It was in a tasty sauce and, in addition to mushrooms, it had potatoes in it. For dessert we had one ice cream with fruit which was not interesting (¥30, I think). It was a delightful meal with good service.

3.2.4     R: New Fei Teng Yu Xiang Restaurant, North Building, Shop L401, No. 9 Guanghua Rd. (Dongdaqiao Lu, Outer E. 2nd Ring Rd.), Chaoyang District, Tel. 6589-5588.  We spent ¥360 for 4 people at this Sichuan restaurant. The décor of this restaurant is lovely, with a pool running down its length and at the back of the restaurant a koi pond. The lighting is good, the chairs are comfortable (unless you are on a sofa) and the view of the digital display at the roof level of The Place is fun. The food was very, very good. The service was very, very bad. And, the restaurant became very hot as it filled up. We ordered the fish hot pot (most other tables did the same). It came in a gigantic bowl and had the perfect amount of spiciness and the fish itself was tender and tasty. We ordered a braised pork that came with a stringy mushroom (not sure of its name) that had an artistic presentation and was just as delicious as it looked. For our vegetable we ordered the loofah. It came very late in the meal for no apparent reason. We kept asking for the rice we had ordered but it didn’t appear until almost too late. For dessert we ordered 2 of the pictured sweets. Both were very good and filled with a peanut sesame paste that we liked very much. We had chrysanthemum tea with our meal. Hopefully the service will improve.

3.2.5     NR: Fu Man Yuan, 10 Xinyuan Nan Lun, Chaoyang District, tel. 6461-8656.  We went because it is on Eileen Wen Mooney’s blog (www.eileeneats.com) as her favorite home-style restaurant in Beijing. She says: “I ordered three dishes, as suggested by regulars, Hongshao daiyu, red-braised ribbonfish (40RMB), suanla tudousi, spicy shredded potatoes (12RMB), culiu yuanbaicai, stir-fried pungent cabbage (12RMB). Almost every table orders the signature ribbonfish, and it is stupendously delicious. The shredded potatoes, which have a kick of dried chilies and the fragrance of spring onions, are also excellent. And this is probably one of the few eateries in which I don’t feel dehydrated after a meal, usually as a result of over-salty food or too much MSG.”

“I keep an eye on the kitchen and see braised eggplant (shao qiezi), deep-fried bread (zha mantou) served with a square chuck of fermented bean curd, spareribs paired with broad green beans (paigu men biandou), and more coming out the door; all are good old Beijing classic dishes. Beijing needs more restaurants like Fu Man Yuan that know that it’s about the food and not the décor or presentation. I have joined the crowd of regulars and look forward to trying more on the menu.”

Well it was very far for us to go and boy, were we disappointed. The place was full but fortunately we didn’t have to wait. The ribbonfish was okay—certainly not “stupendously delicious”. It was hovering near dry, there are too many small bones so eating it was dangerous and the meat itself was not sweet. The deep fried bread was “Wonder” bread with a crust and totally uninteresting. The fermented bean curd was unusual but not overly interesting. The only other dish we ordered was the braised eggplant. It was good and a very big order but far too salty for us. Eileen Mooney lost credibility.

3.2.3.   NR: Ke Li Huai Yang Cun, No. 5A Nongzhanguan N. St, Yong'an (Rainbow) Hotel, Floor 2, Chaoyang District (Area: Maizidian-Outer NE 3rd Ring Rd), tel.  6315 5185, web:  www.klhyc.com We spent ¥61 for a disappointing meal. The only good thing was the woman playing a stringed instrument that sounded kind of like a harp. We went to try Huaiyang food (one of the 4 major cuisines of China) but we ordered poorly had a Suzhou or Hangzhou dish instead. We just couldn’t find one of the specialties that looked good and was reasonably priced. So we ordered Stewed Young Chicken (spareribs) in pumpkin ¥58 and rice. We also had pu'er tea which on the menu was ¥45 but which we were evidently not charged for. The taxi there and back was ¥23 and ¥20. What a waste. (The room was okay but we don’t like eating at a restaurant in a hotel. The service was passable.)

3.2.4.   NR: Karaiya Spice House, Sanlitun Village South, 3rd Floor S10 (2 floors above Starbucks),  No. 19 Workers' Stadium N. Rd., Chaoyang, Beijing, tel. 6415-3535, www.hatsuneshushi.com. We spent ¥76 for two. This is a small and elegant restaurant (with an upstairs area). The chairs are comfortable but were actually too low for the table. There weren’t many lao wai there. The music was good and there is a no smoking area. Having said all that, we didn’t like the restaurant or the food. It’s too trendy for us and the food wasn’t that tasty. It’s supposed to be a “Hunan Cuisine Boutique” but the spices were not used wisely. We ordered “Fois Gras and Soy Fried Rice” (¥38) which we mistakenly let the waitress serve for us. The one piece of fois gras was diced into pieces 1mm by 1mm and too small to taste. We also had the Hunan Spicy Pork Stir Fry with Vegetables (¥38). It was okay. We drank hot water because we thought that the tea was too expensive. They don’t have desserts and so we were going to order the fruit plate but when we learned it was ¥30 for a plate of fruit we declined.

4.            Changdong District

4.1   Dinner

4.1.1     NR: Yunnan Restaurant,  10 Xidawang Rd. , Changdong, tel. 5876 6598. We spent ¥270 for 4 people for a very mediocre meal. The place was nicely decorated the food was marginal—not too much taste (and did not have the famous spiciness of Yunnan food). We didn’t have any mushrooms because they were too expensive. We had chrysanthemum tea ¥20 and 6 dishes. The rice was made in bamboo and it was good, a little like Thai sticky rice. We had a huge eel soup like dish with an accompanying sauce that had mint and enough chilies to start a major fire. There was a chicken soup dish that wasn’t tasty, a baby chrysanthemum flower and egg dish that was unusual but not too tasty. Also there was a spinach dish. For dessert we had a fried tofu dish that had the texture of cheese and that you dipped in sugar. It was unusual. For ¥270 the meal was too expensive for what it was.

5.            Xuanwu

5.1   Dinner

5.1.1.   HR: Jin Yang Restaurant, 241 Zhushikou W. St., Outer Guang'anmen (inner S 2nd Ring Rd), Xuanwu, tel. 6303-1669, e-mail: jinyang@jinyangfanzhuang.com, web: www.jinyangfanzhuang.com or www.tcsl.com.cn. We spent ¥118 for two and had a wonderful meal with excellent service. This is a Shanxi restaurant and we went because it looked like such an important restaurant as we were driving by. The restaurant is in the former residence of Ji Xiaolan, a well-known scholar in the Qing Dynasty. Our waitress (#226) was smart, helpful and had a great smile. Our table was on the second floor and we weren’t bothered by anyone smoking. The menu has an introduction (in English) which says that the special dishes are “chopped noodle, Wenxi Pancake, chaobo fish, mao erduo with Shanxi local flavor.” We ordered the “Steamed sliced noodle with mutton” (¥32) that our waitress said was the chopped noodle. It was very unusual and very good. A bamboo steamer basket comes filled with tube-shaped noodles about 3cm long (it almost looked like a flower). The bamboo basket is accompanied by a bowl of sauce. Our waitress served us noodles (very sticky and difficult to separate) in individual soup bowls and covered them in sauce. The noodle tubes were excellent and chewy (just the way we like them) and the sauce was very good. This was a new dish for us and we really liked it. The Wenxi Pancake (¥22) was also a new dish for us. It is balls of phyllo-like pastry filled with julienned, sautéed onion. They were crunchy and excellent.  The third dish we ordered was “The palace guarantees eggplant Ding” (¥28) that was a sweet and spicy dish with pine nuts, oil, bamboo shoots and green onion. It was also very, very good. We noticed that fresh juices were being made and so, for dessert, we ordered one apple and carrot juice (¥10) and one watermelon juice (¥8). Both were delicious.

5.1.2.   NR: Feng Ze Yuan, 83 Zhushikou W. St., Dazhalan area, 300m west of the southern entrance to Qianmen Ave. pedestrian street (Inner S. 2nd Ring Rd.), Xuanwu, Beijing, tel. 6328-6688, web: www.fengzeyaunhotel.com. We spent ¥300 for 4 people. We went because it is known for Shandong cuisine. It was an okay meal but certainly not great. Some dishes were very good, others not good. We ordered “Deep Fried meat balls with choice of sauce #490401” (around ¥50) that were quite good. The “Crispy Chicken #492400” (¥78) didn’t look crispy but was crispy and very good. The “Sautéed Shredded Pork With Mushroom #512600” (¥35) was good. One of the restaurant’s signature dishes is supposed to be sea cucumber. We tried to find an affordable one to try and ordered “Sea Cucumber with sesame paste and sesame oil #254600” (¥78). It was tasteless and disappointing. We ordered a cold cucumber starter #251600 that was a big hit (¥15) and rice (that was awful—inexcusably overcooked). For dessert we ordered the “Duckling Shaped Puffs” (¥18) that were adorable and filled with red bean.

The room was on the small side and very hot that evening. The service was good.

6.            Haidian District

6.1   Lunch

6.1.1     HR: Baijia Dayuan (Bai Family Mansion), 15 Suzhou St., Haidian District, Beijing 100080, tel. 010-6265-8851. We didn’t pay at this restaurant but we know it was quite expensive. It was a magnificent meal and the setting and service were awesome (as were our host and her other guest). Our host who took us there said: “Bai Family Big Courtyard (or White’s Grand Courtyard)… serves Tan-style imperial cuisine - that which Nicole Mones wrote about in The Last Chinese Chef. The courtyard itself used to be the home of a Manchu prince and the author of Dream of the Red Chamber Cao Xueqin used to live there. The classic was adapted into a television drama and it was shot here. There is a lot of history here.”

A reviewer on the Native website [http://www.mobilenative.com/record.php?poi_id=aX0pHNgGMvc%3D] said: "it probably be frequented by Westerners more often if it wasn’t located in the far northwest of the city. And if it was frequented by more Westerners, it would probably get around to publishing an English menu. For a restaurant so explicitly set up for entertaining visitors, one would assume putting the time into publishing an English menu would be a prudent investment."

The Native website reviewer also said "...Prices range dramatically on the menu, meaning that while the thrifty can have a relatively inexpensive meal, it’s also easy to spend a large sum of money on Chinese delicacies. If you don’t understand the menu and rely too much on suggestions from your server, you could absentmindedly agree to a 388RMB pot of tea or a 1,280RMB plate of abalone..."

We were in our own room with our servers dressed in Ming Dynasty clothes (and shoes). Our host did all of the ordering and we had two kinds of tea, an oolong and a pu’er. Both were excellent and our servers were attentive in refilling our cups. The meal was extraordinarily good and the atmosphere and service were memorable and excellent. This is a link to the table, when our first dishes arrived: http://www.fototime.com/AA68E8CF54FA41B/standard.jpg

These are the dishes we ate and all were delicious:

1. Toon shoots with Chinese Walnuts Salad
Toon shoots are the sprouts of the Chinese Toon tree, whose first spring shoots are also eaten as a "vegetable". It is a very strong anti-oxidant and is believed to be very good for you - as in everything else we Chinese put into our mouths. We are firm believers in Hippocrates' “Food is Medicine” concept. This is a link to a picture of this dish: http://www.fototime.com/02BED11DA46DAD9/standard.jpg

2. Wild Chinese Yam with candied Hawthorn Sauce
Chinese Yam is the long hairy tap root of the dioscorea opposita.
Hawthorn are the wild fruit that is plentiful around Beijing's hills.

3. Jelly fish in Aged Chinese Vinegar
These are the "tentacles" of the jelly fish, as opposed to the more sheet-like heads of the jellyfish.

4. Dry-braised matsutake with Dried chili. This is a link to a picture of this dish: http://www.fototime.com/3E552E0C471280B/standard.jpg

5. Imperial Prawns in Kungpao sauce
This has a sweet and sauce tomato and chili overlaid with Sichuan peppercorns. This is a link to a picture of this dish: http://www.fototime.com/E7EC2E6A766052B/standard.jpg

6. Red-cooked Dongpo pork belly in mini pumpkin pots
Dongpo pork is named after Su Dongbo, a poet, civil servant and galloping gourmet of the Song Dynasty. He is most famous for building the dyke/causeway along Hangzhou's West lake. This is a link to a picture of the dish: http://www.fototime.com/DC184AA7E12DEB2/standard.jpg

7. Bamboo Boletus (which we call bamboo pith) in Light Chicken Consommé. This is a link to a picture of this dish: http://www.fototime.com/246A18D54BCBAA0/standard.jpg

8. Roasted Duck Squares in Lotus Leaf Buns
Steamed duck is shredded and then formed back into a cake which is dusted with corn starch and then deep fried. The soft buns are shaped like a lotus leaf. This is a link to a picture of this dish: http://www.fototime.com/59E33952112D5ED/standard.jpg

This is a restaurant that should be experienced (even if it is expensive). Go and enjoy!

6.1.2     R: Master Kong Chefs Table, City Gate Mall, Haidian District, www.masterkongchef.com.cn. We had a good lunch for ¥40. For ¥30 we shared the Golden Three Treasured Beef Noodle. It was described as beef tendons in mellow thick soup with good noodles and it was quite tasty. For ¥ 10 we had side dishes of marinated egg, shredded tofu with sauce and vegetables and healthy autumn agarics (a fungus) that we liked.

6.1.3      R: Yu jia cai, 103 Zoajunmiaolu Street, Haidian District, tel. 6211-2318. We spent ¥25 for a very nice lunch. The restaurant has lots of shellfish in tanks (which we think is unusual in Beijing). It is a good place and is clean enough. We had scallops in a delicious garlic sauce.

6.1.4     NR: Honeymoon Dessert, City Gate Mall, Haidian District We had one mango juice and one dessert for ¥42 and we weren’t impressed with the one at City Gate Mall or at the other outlets either.

7.            Xicheng District

7.1   Lunch

7.1.1     HR: Dim Sum: Guang He Cha Xuan (Chaxuan), Fifth Floor Guangzhou Dasha (Guangzhou Hotel), 3A Heng Er Tiao, Xidan, Xicheng District, Beijing, tel. 5855-9988, www.bjgzds.com.cn. We spent ¥124 for 2. This is much more than a tea house. It has a wide variety of dim sum (or zao cha) and also has Hong Kong style wheel carts in the morning (before 11 a.m.). It is open from 7 a.m. We have been looking for a good dim sum place for two months in Beijing and this is the first one to serve some interesting choices. We had 6 dishes for ¥124, including doughnuts with soy milk, rice paper rolls stuffed with shrimp, dumplings, an item that looked kind of like a sushi roll but was filled with pressed meat and some corn, and an usual bao filled with nuts and was sweet. We were stuffed!

7.1.2     R: Jiumen Snacks  (or Nine Gates Snack) or Jiumen Xiaochi, 1 Xiaoyou Hutong, Xicheng District, 10:00 a.m. to 22:00, tel. 6402-5858. It was good, it was an experience but it wasn’t great. We spent ¥130 (including ¥22 for chrysanthemum tea) for the 3 of us.

7.1.3     R: Buffet Lunch at the Capital Museum, 16 Fuxingmenwai Dajie, Xicheng District, Beijing 100045, tel. 010-6337-0491, web: www.capitalmuseum.org.cn. We had ½ buffet at ¥20 each = ¥40. It was enough food and a great deal.

7.2.        Dinner

7.2.1.   NR: Xu Yuan, No. 18 Xilouxiang Hutong, S.E. Qianhai (Outer N. Forbidden City), Xicheng, tel. 6404-4330, e-mail: xuyuancanting@sina.com. We spent ¥130 for two.
We went because we wanted to try Fujian food. Well, we were disappointed. The room is kind of a mess, with no coordinated décor. There is one blow up of a photograph on the wall and we thought it had a lao wei in it. There is a write up in English about the story of the chef named Zhu Guishan who the emperor gave a tablet inscribed “Xu Yuan” (happiness) that is kind of charming. The menu is poor, with bad pictures. There were dishes we wanted to try that they didn’t have. We ordered “Delicious Soup and Fish Maw”  ¥38) that was okay. Another dish we ordered was oyster with braised lettuce and fatty meat (¥28) that wasn’t good. The shellfish wasn’t oyster; it was a tough and tiny crustacean of some kind. We had a fried mixed vegetable (¥22) that was undistinguished, a fried rice (¥22) that was worse than undistinguished and pu’er tea from Fujian (¥20). The server was nice and spoke some English. The chairs were comfortable but that would be a reason to return to this restaurant. We don’t recommend it.

8.    The Summer Palace

8.1.  Lunch

8.1.1.   R: Suzhou Street Eatery, Longevity Hill. We had lunch by the water (¥43 for one noodle soup and 6 dumplings). It was good and enjoyable to sit and watch the parade of people.

9.    Forbidden City

9.1.  Lunch

9.1.1.   A: Gugong Restaurant in the Forbidden City near the  Exhibition of Clocks We spent ¥28 for Old Beijing Noodles and they were awful.

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