It was a promising concept, and it had all the right ingredients: Seafood, weekend buffet, farm-fresh, organic. And most importantly, right here in Shunyi.
The day after we saw the advertisement, we made a reservation for Sunday lunch. We then received a call from a nice lady who gave thorough instructions for getting to the farm. There was, however, one hitch. The price advertised was no longer up-to-date, and would we mind paying the new price? It was a steep difference (double the price of RMB 100 originally posted). But again, it was such an idyllic-sounding place that we relented.
Finding the Fishtail Garden Farm wasn’t easy. Thanks to some basic Mandarin skills, we arranged for the caretaker to pick us up from an easy-to-spot location. Once we made it to the farm, we realized it was actually pretty straightforward:
- Drive towards the Scitech Outlet Mall along Xiangjiang Beilu, and keep an eye out for the Maquanying subway exit A across the street, on your right.
- Right before you reach the subway exit, you will see a small white stone bridge to the right. Turn into the bridge and make an immediate left at the subway.
- Follow the very bumpy dirt path. You are essentially driving behind the subway exit building. Alternatively, you could park at the exit A building and follow the path on foot.
- One hundred meters in, you will notice a bamboo fence to the right and a small wooden sign proclaiming your arrival at Fishtail Garden.
- If you hit an intersection and see Subway exits B and C, you have gone too far. If you prefer to be escorted into the farm, give them a call when you get to exit A and someone will come get you.
Upon arrival, we took a quick stroll as various vegetables were pointed out to us: onions, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and more. The farm has been growing vegetables for the Yellow River Restaurants, which are run by the same owners.
We were then led into the main dining hall, which was empty except for the four of us. Since it was a farm, we had hoped the dining area would have a more rustic feel. Or maybe (as we had experienced in Mongolia) we’d even be eating inside a converted greenhouse.
Instead, it was a run-of-the-mill local restaurant set-up. The caretaker told us that since there was only our table, they would not serve the food buffet-style, but everything would be cooked fresh for us.
The chef set to work single-handedly producing our lunch with ingredients harvested from the garden. The first two dishes were a plate of poached sugared sliced pears and sliced cold pork in a vinegar-based brine. Then, three vegetable dishes: boiled corn and sweet potato; stir-fried cress mixed with a slightly spicy oil; and a tossed salad with greens, cucumber, carrots, radish and onion. And then, three protein dishes paraded in: sweet and sour prawn with kiwi, dragon fruit and lychee; braised tilapia with mushrooms; and yak meat steak with steamed vegetables.
And then, despite being light-headed and lead-stomached from all the food, there was more to try: a sweet eight-treasure congee, a plate of pork and chive jiaozi, and a platter of very fresh fruit. All the dishes were clean-tasting and very well-made, and washed down nicely with tea or lemon water.
In the end, the food was so fresh that we didn’t mind the price adjustment at all. A look through the photos on the walls told us that the farm has hosted many large groups and even some weddings. An entire shed is devoted to roasting and barbecuing. The decks of playing cards, checkerboard etched onto one tabletop, and other entertainment paraphernalia hinted this would make a good venue for team-building activities or celebrations with friends.
Or, do as we did and go as a family; you may be lucky enough to have the entire farm to yourself.
To find out more, visit Fishtail’s Weibo page.
Fishtail Garden Organic Farm 曳尾园家庭农场
RMB 200/person (be sure to double-check before going). Sat-Sun 10am-5pm, by reservation only.Across the street from Scitech Outlets, Hegezhuang, Chaoyang District (400 018 0096, email@example.com)朝阳区崔各庄赛特奥莱对面
Photos by Dana Cosio-Mercado
Dana is the beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent. Originally from the Philippines, she moved to Beijing in 2011 (via Europe) with her husband, two sons and Rusty the dog. She enjoys writing, photography, theater, visual arts, and trying new food. In her free time, she can be found exploring the city and driving along the mountain roads of Huairou, Miyun and Pinggu.