Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bellagio in Beijing

The best Taiwanese restaurant in Beijing is Bellagio. They have a number of branches and we went to the one in Sanyuanqiao for lunch.

I ordered pearl milk tea for my drink.....yum yum! I don't know why the Philippines does not have any good places to get this when it's so close to Taiwan and there are so manyTaiwanese people living in the country.
We also ordered the famous Taiwanese chicken dish called sanbeiji. It was so delicious and fragrant. The garlic, basil, ginger, and the sauce in the right proportions.This was the radish cake. It was pretty good, I think it would have been with better congee, which is what we eat it with at home.
I forgot what the name of this vegetable was, but it was so flavorful and crunchy. I hate eating my vegetables, but this was addicting.
The pineapple rice was good, the rice was a little sticky, just the way I like it. It was sweet and sour and the pork floss added some texture and flavor to the fried rice.
I really enjoy eating at this restaurant. Everything is so delicious and cooked properly that it's really difficult to order anything that will disappoint you. I've also been to a Bellagio in Shanghai and it's just as good. I wished we had good Chinese food like this in the Philippines.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Best Value Hot Pot in Mingbao hotpot, Beijing

When I was still studying, it was important to save money where I could. It was always great to find a place to eat that was cheap and still had good food. One of these finds was a hotpot place called Mingbao Huoguo (hotpot). It was a place we'd go to as a group to eat lunch right after class. This place is also just a few bus stops away. Each person gets their own pot, which I really like.

You can order plenty of food which is enough for everyone to share. We ordered golden mushrooms, some local vegetables, tofu, noodles, dumplings, fish balls, chicken, lamb, and beef.
The food was so cheap that a plate like this cost 10RMB!!!!
They also have the sesame sauce, which is my favorite. Here, my pot of food is boiling....it's ready to eat!
This place was great, not only was it budget friendly, but it was so satisfying, especially on a cold winter day.

A taste of Grandma's Kitchen in Beijing

Eating Chinese food everyday for months in a row can be really sickening. One of the best Western food to have in Beijing is a place called Grandma's Kitchen. There used to be only one branch in Chaoyang, but there is now one in the new mall in Wudaokou.

The strawberry milkshake was delicious, they used fresh strawberry and fresh milk. The mushroom soup is not special, but very familiar. It taste a little like the ones from the cans.
The burger is not too bad either. It's not juicy or as tasty as you would find in places like In and Out, but still comforting. It's a large portion and the fries are pretty good too.
At the end of the meal, I remember liking the food much more before, but it's probably because I'm still enjoying all the great Chinese food here that we can't get in the Philippines.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Best PekingDuck: Li Qun Roast Duck, Beijing

I will never forget the best Peking duck I've had; the experience, the taste, and the surroundings. The best Peking duck is in a small restaurant hidden in one of the Hutongs (old streets) that still exist. It's a very small place that specializes in Peking duck. The restaurant is busy every night, that walk-ins are constantly rejected. Although, it's very popular, taxi drivers still have a hard time finding the place. From the outside of the Hutong, it's impossible to see the restaurant. After walking in a few metres, you'll see some signs that you're going the right way.
Then you'll quickly see the restaurant..
The place is very small, it has very limited tables and a few rooms, which is why reservations is a must.
The duck is the best here, the best I've ever tried. The skin is very soft, thin, and warm. The sauce is even better than Quanjude's. But the hightlight is the duck. The duck is so flavorful from the wood fire oven. No matter how fatty the duck us, Li Qun's duck never feels oily. I could eat more than 5 and still not get sick of it. If anywhere else, I can't eat anymore than 2 wraps.
One of the small kitchens in the restaurant. Not exactly clean, but it's part of the charm.

The hooks for the ducks.
The oven for the ducks.
This was the highlight of my visit. It still exactly the same as 4 years ago, the place, the taste, and the people. Although so many things are changing and developing so quickly in China, I'm so glad that the food is still the same.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hannashan Korean BBQ, Beijing

One of my favorite places in Beijing was the Korean BBQ restaurant near my school in Wudaokou. I remembered is as 2 bus stops away, but I don't remember which bus I took. A few days ago I was back there and I thought that if I went back to the bus stop and stared at all the bus numbers and bus stops, it would come to me....but it didn't. I took a guess and rode one bus, but it turned out to be the wrong one. I was so disheartened because I was really looking forward to it and I felt a little embarassed since I was with people travelling to Beijing for the first time.

The bus we rode stopped by a shopping centre, so we did a little shopping there. After shopping, we couldn't decide where to eat because I didn't bring any of the restaurant adresses with me. We hailed a cab and asked him to take us to my favorite Peking Duck restaurant, but the driver didn't know where it was. So then, I asked him if he could bring us to a good hot pot place, but he didn't know where either. It was obvious that he was a sincere driver so we let him take us around the area to see if there were any hot pot places. After a few minutes of driving around we found one, but it was Sichuan style and I told him I don't like spicy food. Since we were having a hard time I asked if he knew any old Beijing style restaurants in the area. We drove around looking for that too.

About 5 minutes later, as we were driving, I saw the Korean BBQ place that I was looking for!!!!! Talk about luck!!!! I told the taxi driver to stop there and he was so confused because I told him I didn't like spicy food and Korean food is spicy. heehee

The places was just as a busy as I remember it. We were so hungry and excited that we finally found the place that I forgot to take pictures of the food! The pictures below was nearing the end of our meal. This is ox toungue. The grill looks so clean and shiny because the servers change it every two minutes. We also had beef, beef short ribs (my favorite), and bibimbop. YUM!
For dessert, each diner gets a fruit plate. In China, tomatoes is part of the dessert plate.
We also get milk ice cream. It's not as creamy, but very light and refreshing.
I was so excited to have found it and even happier that the food is just as good as it used to be.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fancy Hotpot in DingDing Xiang, Beijing

I really don't enjoy hot pot, except in Beijing, which is another item on my hit list. I seem to have forgotten the name and where my favorite hotpot restaurant was. So I just looked one up from "That's Beijing" and found Ding Ding Xiang.

One of the things I like about hotpot in Beijing is that you get your individual pot which resulted from the SARS scare a few years back. It's nice to have control of your own food, you can cook it the way you like, put in only what you like, and it's very hygienic.

My favorite part of Beijing hotpot is the sauce!!! It's the best sauce I've tasted and also something I can't find anywhere else. The sauce is made of roasted sesame seeds. It's so nutty, rich, and so so so delicious. This is why I love Beijing hotpot so much.One of the dishes we ordered was dou miao. I don't know what it's called in English, but I think you can find this anywhere.
We also ordered bean curd and sliced beef. The beef was so soft and full of flavor. It was the best dish we had.
This was the lamb dish. I'm not a big fan of lamb, but it was pretty good.
This is another lamb dish, but it has more fat. It's a little more tender and tastier than the one earlier.

This was another four year craving satisfied. It's the fanciest hotpot restaurant I've been to, I didn't expect to be so. I hope that there's enough time to go to another one, I just can't get enough of the sesame dipping sauce.

A trip to Lao Beijing Zhajianmian (Old Beijing)

Another must eat in Beijing on my list was to eat at a Lao Beijing restaurant (Old Beijing). The most famous old Beijing dish is a noodle dish called "zhajianmian."

When you order zhajiangmian, the waiter brings a tray with a bowl of noodles with some other small dishes of vegetables. He then puts all the vegetables on top of the noodles. This itself is entertaining, they do it in a matter of seconds and with so much noise.
When the bowl gets to your table, it looks like this. It has soy beans, yellow beans, strips of radishes, cucumbers, green beans, and celery. Then on top of that goes the bean sauce. The sauce is what can make it really special. Each restaurant has their own secret recipe. The noodles are then mixed until each noodle is covered with the sauce.
In this praticular restaurant, the zhajiang mian was very good. The noodles were fresh and the texture was perfect. The vegetables were very crunchy and also fresh. The sauce was very good, not the best I've had, but it definitely satisfied my four year craving for this dish. Since I left Beijing four years ago, I can't find this anywhere else.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Famous QuanJuDe Roast Duck, Beijing

This is the first stop of what I've been excited to eat in Beijing since I left 4 years ago. It is the most famous restaurant in Beijing for Pecking Duck. Personally, it's not the best because that has to be saved later.

The restaurant we went to is the one in Wangfujing called Quanjude. It was opened in the 1800's and is still going well. The duck is cut and sliced in front of the diners.
The skin of the Peking Duck....
This is my favorite part, the sauce. It's not hoisin sauce like you get anywhere else. It's not as sweet and it has a bit of bitterness to it which I find cuts the oiliness of the duck.
This is the Pecking Duck sliced and presented on the table.
My first wrap.
This is my favorite! After the duck is sliced, there is an option to take home the bones or have the restaurant make it in to a soup. The soup is the best!! It's so tasty and it doesn't feel oily at all. I could have it everyday.
Most people do not think Beijing Peking Duck is very good. I agree you can find good ones elsewhere, but the sauce the way I like it is only in Beijing. It was a very filling, but satisfying meal. I can't wait for my favorite place....watch for it soon!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wine Pairing Dinner at Red, Shangri-la, Makati

As mentioned ealier, I like to celebrate my birthday by enjoying a great dinner with a small group. This year, it just so happens that there is a wine pairing dinner at Red Restaurant in Shangri-la Makati. The one night only dinner is featuring wines from Chateau Palmer in Margaux (a region in Bordeaux, France).

The night started with some small dishes and 2 glasses from the 2003 and 2001 vintages. The first course of the meal was: Pan seared crepinette of French Quail with salad of red apple and organic greens. The quail was plump and cooked perfectly with still a little pink. The salad was made well with the basic vinaigrette dressing, but nothing spectacular. However, I find calling the apple, "red apple" humourous. It was paired with the 1998 vintage beautifully. The second course was Roasted Wild Duck Fillet with truffle infused celleries puree and thyme jus. This dish was really satisfying. The celleries puree was so smooth and the taste of celery and truffle stood out. The duck was cooked well, although it was difficult to cut, it was not difficult to chew. The thyme jus complemented the duck and puree perfectly.

This was paired nicely with the 1996 vintage, which was very different from the other vintages we've had. It was more fruity and seemed younger than the others.
The main dish was the Prime Bone-In Tenderloin with braised savoy cabbage and potato strudel. I've never had a tenderloin with the bone and never stopped to think that it exists. It was a great steak....perfectly cooked, juicy, tender, and tasty. The sauce amount was very stingy, but the steak was so good, it didn't even need the sauce. This was paired with the 1995 vintage, which was very full bodied, bold, and smooth. The last course was the fried Valrhona chocolate moulleux bon bon with bourbon vanilla ice cream and respberry coulis. I can never resist Valrhona chocolate, this dish was so good...pure chocolate with ice cream, I can't complain. It was paired with Port which goes well with the chocolate.
I was worried that this meal was going to be a disapointment because past experiences from Red have mostly been so. Although the meal was quite heavy, I'm so glad and relived that it was great, it was a perfect way to enjoy my birthday.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

My Birthday Cake

Each year, I dread the time when my birthday is coming. I don't really feel like celebrating each year as I get older. But it is the day where I get to choose where to eat and all I really want to do is to go out have a great dinner.

Last weekend, I celebrated early with a small group of friends. And to my surprise, they made me an amazing fondant cake! Earlier in the year, I always had a craving for food from the Japanese restaurant Sakura on Pasay Road in Makati. So my friends came up with this Japanese theme for the cake. I was very impressed! They've been doing cakes for a few months now and they're really coming with great stuff!

Enjoy the pictures! :) Here is the full cake from the front view:
This is the top part of the cake with all the sushi and tempura plates.
Top View:
Close up of the california roll, tempura, tuna sashimi. It's even got the wasabi mounds and tobiko!!!

It' was a good dinner in Sakura and a great cake.....it was a fun night!