2010 Jan 04 Far-Flung Corners: Lesser-known Provincial Government Restaurants
As the capital of China for many centuries, Beijing has always been a magnet for people from across the country, which has greatly contributed to the richness of the local food scene. Today, each provincial government office is represented in Beijing, and each office operaties a small hotel offering lodging to local officials coming to the capital. Many are famous for their regional eateries and the authenticity of their food. These are a few of the lesser-known provincial restaurants in town worth trying out.
Ji Ren Yuan 吉人缘
Run by the Jilin Provincial Government, Ji Ren Yuan is the place to sample genuine Manchu dishes. Songrong 松茸 (pine mushrooms), picked wild in the forests and prized for their delicate aroma and taste, are prepared in four different ways – try any of these for the pure fragrance of the pines: baozhi songrong mo 鲍汁松茸蘑 (pine mushrooms in abalone sauce); cuizha songrong mo 脆炸松茸蘑 (deep-fried crispy pine mushrooms); xiang jian songrong mo 香煎松茸蘑 (pan-fried pine mushrooms); and qingchao songrong mo 清炒松茸蘑(stir-fried pine mushrooms).
Daily 11.30am-2pm, 4.30pm-9pm. Xue Song Binguan, 2 Madian Nan Lu, Bei Sanhuan, Haidian District. (8200 0066 ext 2118) 吉林省人民政府驻京办事处饭店. 海淀区北三环马甸南路2号七省大院吉林驻京办雪松宾馆
Dunhuang Shifu 敦煌食府
While Lanzhou lamian (兰州拉面) can be slurped at hole in the wall noodle joints all over Beijing, Dunhuang Shifu is one of only a few more polished restaurants in Beijing serving the cuisine of northwestern Gansu province. Attached to the newly relocated Gansu’s provincial government office, this restaurant is modestly decorated, with several private rooms available. Gansu makes no claim to be the most complex or subtle of Chinese cuisines. Dunhuang Shifu respects that, and simply does what Gansu does well: large, northwestern-style helpings, plenty of tender mutton, and noodles, noodles, noodles.
Daily 11.30am-2pm, 5.30-9.30pm. 5 Guangqumenwai Nanjie, Xicheng District. (132 6011 6509)西城区广渠门外南街5号
Na Lan 那兰
This is the Guangxi provincial government restaurant, which features specialties of the Zhuang minority as well as some Cantonese dishes. Bama xiangzhu 巴马香猪 is organic roasted suckling pig from Bama County – a must-try dish with hardly any fat. Also delicious is the sticky taro root from Lipu, which is thinly sliced and steamed between slices of streaky pork. Called lipu yutou kourou 荔浦芋头扣肉, it doesn’t come any better than this. Sour bamboo shoots, the provincial trademark, are stir-fried with shredded pork in suansun chao rousi 酸笋炒肉丝.
Daily 11.30am-2pm, 5.30-9pm. 26 Huaweili, Panjiayuan, Chaoyang District. (6779 6688) 朝阳区潘家园华威里26号 广西大
Nanchang Fandian 南昌饭店
This small dining venue attached to the Nanchang City Government Office Hotel offers select Jiangxi specialties. Highly recommended is the yansun chaorou 烟笋炒肉 (stir-fried smoked bamboo shoots with fatty pork), lihao chao larou 藜蒿炒腊肉 (stir-fried lihao with cured meat), and zhurou fenzheng 猪肉粉蒸 (steamed pork with a hint of star-anise flavored rice meal).
Daily 11am-1.30pm, 5.30-8.30pm 35 Huangchenggen Nanjie, Xicheng District. (6607 9991) 西城区皇城根南街35号
Yu Fu Shen Chu 豫府神厨
Simple, clean and pleasant, the Henan provincial government restaurant is probably the only place to sample the province’s signature dish – mudan shuixi 牡丹水席, the famous peony water banquet, which is served in a large deep bowl with assorted strips of cooked meat, including braised beef, crabmeat, ham and sausage, sitting on a bed of finely sliced white turnip in a savory sour broth. Guihua yudu 桂花鱼肚is strips of deep-fried fish maw, paired with scrambled eggs and green pepper which are wrapped in thin pancakes.
Daily 11am-2pm, 5pm-9pm. 8 Dongbinhelu, Youanmenwai, Nan’erhuan, Fengtai District. (6357 6666) 丰台区南二环右安门外东滨河路8号
Zi Yu Xuan 紫钰轩
Situated on the first floor of an old run down Jiangsu provincial government hotel, the menu of Zi Yu Xuan is extensive, featuring dishes from Hangzhou, Suzhou, Yangzhou, and Shanghai. However, it’s the unique fresh vegetables that are worth the trip, including some not available elsewhere. Prepared as a dressed cold dish (liangban 凉拌), stir-fried (qingchao 清炒), or cooked with meat (shaorou 烧肉), the vegetables include douban 豆瓣 (lima beans); jicai 荠菜(shepherd purse); juye 菊叶 (chrysanthemum leaves); yesheng qin 野生芹(wild celery); shuiqin 水芹(water celery); gouqi ye 枸杞叶(wolfberry leaves) and machixian 马齿苋 (purslane). This eatery is probably the only restaurant in Beijing that makes pashao zhutou 扒烧猪头 (braised pig head) – a Yangzhou signature dish.
Daily 11am-2pm, 5-10pm. Inside Jiangsu Hotel, 1 Ganshuiqiao, Andingmenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District. (6422 4806) 朝阳区甘水桥1号安定门外大街江苏饭店
Excerpted and adapted from the Insider’s Guide to Beijing, Fifth Edition. Order the new 2010 Edition by e-mailing email@example.com