Monday, 29 June 2009


Arriving beijing early afternoon we are met by Eileen Wen Mooney, Foodie and author of Beijing Eats, who will be our guide for the next two and half days, After a quick check in at the hotel, its off to the first of our many planned stops in this vibrant city.

Our Itinery has been carefully put together to cover some of the best of the regions cuisine that the city has to offer, the list is extensive so i have decided to give a breif overview and highlights of each one, more like a restaurant guide.

We start at Zhanjing noodle,

On the menu.

  • mung bean puree with preserved vegetable and chilli oil Beijing fries -, mung bean flour made with water and formed into sheets, cut into diamonds and deep fried, who needs Mcdonalds, these are better than french fries.
    Deep fried sausage [ Zha guanchang] with garlic lemon dipping sauce- this is sausage made from starch and pan fried.
  • Fried pork meatballs served with szechuan salt
  • Noodles with sweetbean paste and garlic pickle

This is the first of many reastaurants we will try and what a way to start, the highlight for me was the Beijing fries and the mung bean puree, what great addition to any chinese meal.

Next up,we visit April, gourmet an expat grocery store, then onto Lohoe city organic supermarket, which both are based near the embassy quarter.

        After filling the the trolley with a good selection of noodles and other interesting products, another stop Eileen has for us is the trends lounge in the CBD, a great bookstore with sleak curves and spirals, in fresh whites and greens, we visit the store and get to see the kitchen operation, which we are told that it is extremley busy during the lunchtime rush.
        With one more visit before dinner ,we head off to Ole, one of Beijings main grocery stores, a very upmarket operation again in the CBD.
        Dinner is booked at South silk road, a Yunnan restaurant, comtemporary in design with a distinctive cuisine.

      • Wild root, yunnan style.
      • Special wind tree and slower wind tree bark with tip of evispy pine branches
  • Sauteed trichdoma matsutake with coriander and garlic.
  • Siancity mushroom with Pur er tea C
  • Crossing the bridge noodles (guò qiáo mĭxiàn) is an elaborate chicken noodle soup which hails from the southern province of Yunnan. There are many stories of how the dish originated, but the most common describes a scholar who once isolated himself on an island to prepare for an important examination. His wife would bring him rice noodles and other morsels in a rich chicken broth, with a layer of fat on top to keep the soup warm until she reached him.
      • Sliced chicken and cool rice noodle with sweet juice
      • Barbecued perch with vanilla
      • Stir fried vegetable with ham
      • Sauteed pork cheek with pur er tea and syrup

This again was a total contrast to the food we have tried in shanghai and the traditional beijing lunch we had earlier.

I have to say that trying tree bark is not something you do everyday, but it is a must try dish if your passing by this restaurant.

Day 2 starts of with a visit to the IFW[ the international food wharehouse in the basement of the plush Park Hyatt, contempory in design this is an amazing food court with open kitchens, wok frying & patisserie with coffe shop, salad and deli areas.

We decide to head for a coffee and cakes, seems the best way to start the day. The selection on offer is fairly extensive, so we decide to try

  • Savoury meat pie
  • Green tea bun
  • Custard bun- a cross between brioche and a hot cross bun with custard filling, what a great product.
  • Apricot tart
  • Lychee and lime Jelly
  • Green tea tiramisu
  • Chocolate tart-well one always has to try this if on offer, and we were not disapointed.

After a an hour here, we head off to a reasturant that i have been waiting to see.

The Noodle Loft [ shanxi cuisine]

This is a open noodle bar which has theatre every minuite you are here, all noodles are made by hand from start to finish, i will be covering this in the next blog when Chung Yin goes back for a lesson with chef Zukai.

After lunch we head of to Dung Jiao market, where you can buy anything from a turtle to an apartment, this market is the centre for some of the cities restaurants to buy their produce, from spices, fish, meat and vegetables. Every stall has its own speciality for the various regional cuisines. This market is not for the feint hearted.

Afternoon tea

After another store trawl we are at an exclusive mall in the centre of town which has the best patisserie and coffee shop i have seen, Fauchon paris,has sister site here in Beijing and is well worth a visit.

Again the selection here needs to be fully tested as each cake and dessert are perfectly made and designed

We decide to try the

  • Chocolate tart
  • Lemon tart
  • Chestnut cake
  • Happiness cake
  • Apple tart
  • Selection of macaroons

Each one has been carefully hand made and the flavours well balanced, highlights - chestnut cake and the lemon tart.

This amazing foodie day will conclude with a visit to 1949 apparently the best peking duck restaurant in beijing, run by Chef patron Peter Lam, who originates from Hong Kong and runs this establishment with his son. Both come out to greet us and offer to select the menu for us.

This is an amazing complex of bars and restaurants that Chef Peter had built up.

Menu for this evening

Peking duck with hoisin, garlic and peanut addition

The peking duck oven, where the wood used is selected by age and is at least 60-80 years old.
  • Pumpkin and sour plum pickle
  • Welks with with courgette and sesame
  • Peaking duck burger- made from the duck above with the addition of homemade sesame bun
  • Garden vegetables with 5 nuts
  • Fois gras terrine made from the peking duck
  • Almond and tea Gluten rice

  • All this is all followed up by a of sweet bean paste duck petit four, and Maccau custard tart with spun sugar, These are truly a delight, The duck is far better than i have tasted before, unlike anything i would get back home. The addition of the peanut and garlic to the light Hoisin is a nice twist.

    As our last day arrives we are heading off to an new restaurant, Karaiya, Hunanese cuisine, owned by the succesful restauranteur Alan Wong, this restaurant offers traditional Hunan cuisine presented in a very modern way. Our selection

  • Signature fish- steamed Mandarin fish with 2 types of Hunan Peppers
  • Rib Bridge- topped with spices and peanuts
  • Chilled tofu with diced peppers
  • Spicy diced Bullfrog and vegtables atop a flaming wok
  • spicy pepper diced ribeye

  • Hunan fragrant tofu special fried[ otherwise known as stinky tofu] this dish is a must try
  • Fois gras and soy fried rice

    • Every dish in this restaurant was perfectly executed with all the flavour and spice as you would find in this regions cuisine. This is probably the best restaurant of the tour for me.
      We have only been in this city for two days but our guide Eileen has shown us some of the best that Beijing has to offer and we now feel we have that we have some good insight into the regions varied but exciting cuisines.

      China is so undiscovered in terms of styles of cuisine and the flavours that this extrodinary country can create that 2 weeks just scratches the surface, and leaves me wanting to discover more.

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