If you’re a fan of Xibei (northwestern) Chinese cuisine but don’t have time to travel to Pingyao for the old walled city, or Datong for the temples, there seems to be a recent influx of restaurants catering to the region’s food. Those who have tried recent Xibei-leaning venues Bei 27 Hao, Bun and Noodle, Best Wish Niangpi, Sun Chase, or Xibei Yibei, might also now want to check out Qingjin Shanxi Cuisine near Chaoyang Hospital.
Qingjin Shanxi Cuisine is a modern take on Xibei food made all the more apparent by its industrial décor – Edison bulbs, beige curtains and sofas, wooden tables, and a half-open kitchen at the far end enhances the venue’s name of “Qingjin,” literally “come in, please.”
With a focus on Shanxi fare specifically, the menu has several noodle dishes (including RMB 13 daoxiaomian), Shanxi-style hot pots, Pingyao salted beef, lamb chops, steamed vegetables (RMB 32), and chuan’r. We ordered jiaozi pi (RMB 22), dumpling skins that are doused in vinegar and chili sauce. A typical snack in Shanxi, the chewy wrappings are traditionally made with green wheat flour and paired with sour and spicy slices of cucumber for a refreshing dish in dry summers.
The traditional hot pot (RMB 98) comes in a small Mongolian-style bronze pot brimming with meatballs, sliced pork, assorted vegetables, seaweed, tofu, needle mushrooms, and mu’er. The broth is seasoned with bag of Xibei spices, and the longer you leave the ingredients to boil in the pot, the more you’ll get out of it. We especially liked the meatballs, which were tender and spicy, and paired with two bowls of rice the lot made for more than enough food for two people.
The “eggplant au gratin” (RMB 32) came as something of a surprise. While not actually French in style, thinly-sliced eggplant is fried till crisp, coated in syrup, and sprinkled with a healthy amount fo Sichuan peppercorns. The result is a numbing, moreish, and sweet combination that’ll see the plate gone in no time.
In short, Qingjin’s modern décor, friendly staff, and tasty Shanxi fare make this restaurant a pleasant venue for either a quick lunch or a relaxed dinner for lovers of northwestern food. We’re also happy to report that it was not crowded during our lunchtime visit, meaning that you can take the time and settle into your meal without feeling rushed.
Qingjin Shanxi Cuisine
Daily 11am-2.30pm, 5-9.30pm. 116 Sanlitun Nanlu, (100 meters east of Dongchangan Business Hotel), Chaoyang District (6501 2351)
Photos: Tracy Wang. This review first appeared on thebeijigner