Northeastern Chinese cuisine (also known as dongbei cai, 东北菜) does not fall into the country’s bada caixi (八大菜系) or eight major cuisines, but this does not stop Beijing’s Liulaogen from serving up some delicious family-friendly fare.
One dish that kids will find difficult to resist is guobao rou (锅包肉) or fried pork in sweet and sour sauce (RMB 69). The starch-coated meat is crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and crunches like popcorn upon first bite. During the shoot, our photographer had to stop to let the model finish a piece because he found it “too yummy to concentrate on the camera.”
For something really authentic, shazhu huicai (杀猪烩菜, RMB 69) tells you everything you need to know about Dongbei cuisine. This dish was traditionally served during festivals because pork was considered a luxury. Many rural households still make shazhu huicai around Chinese New Year by tossing meat, blood, and whatever else they can find in a big stew. (You can request for it to be made without blood at Liulaogen.)
A consistent ingredient is pickled cabbage, usually cooked for hours on low heat, leaving a mildly sour flavor and soft texture. Liulaogen’s shazhu huicai is modestly-sized and good for a family of three or four with other mains.
The two-story theater-style restaurant is owned by Dongbei native Zhao Benshan, China’s most popular sketch comedian. Both the service and the atmosphere are outstanding. Waitresses in colorful traditional dress provide high chairs without being asked, bathrooms feature western toilets, and the 60-page menu contains English translations and photos for almost every dish.
Daily 11am-9pm. Liulaogen, 34 Xiaojiang Hutong, Qianmen Donglu, Dongcheng District (6702 6666) 东城区前门东路小江胡同34号
Photo by SUI
This article originally appeared on p30 of the beijingkids December 2013 issue.
Check out the PDF version online at Issuu.com