With so many Chinese regional cuisines, how do you choose just one to fit everyone’s tastes? Late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai faced the same problem in 1949 when organizing the country’s first state banquet to celebrate the founding of the PRC. In the end, he settled on Huaiyang cuisine: a well-balanced culinary tradition that originates from the middle and lower reaches of the Huai and Yangtze rivers, and is now popular in the provinces of Jiangsu and Anhui.
Though it is one of the four major Chinese cooking styles, Huaiyang cuisine is not as popular as its Sichuanese and Cantonese counterparts. And yet, it has the potential to be a crowd pleaser with its emphasis on local ingredients, fresh seafood, mild flavors, and meticulous preparation methods. Some dishes take hours to prepare and are easily spoiled by mishandled ingredients.
We were pleasantly surprised by Sanliang Caiguan, a recently-opened restaurant in the CBD. Standout kid-friendly dishes include a pork and crab meatball (翡翠蟹粉狮子头, feicui xiefen shizitou, RMB 36) that featured in Premier Zhou’s state banquet. The tennis ball-sized dish is loosely-rolled, tender in texture, and served in a thick green pea soup. We also liked the tofu noodles in chicken soup (大煮干丝, dazhu gansi, RMB 48), soft strips of tofu, vegetables, and shrimp in chicken broth. Our model told us he hated tofu “a lot,” but was spotted wolfing down the entire dish after the shoot.
To try some of the more time-consuming dishes such as Duck Stew with Eight Treasures (八宝葫芦鸭, babao hulu ya, RMB 218) and Lotus Leaf Tofu (莲蓬豆腐, lianpeng doufu, RMB 78), you will have to call and order at least one day in advance.
The restaurant itself is modern in design, with a Japanese-style bar between the kitchen and seating area. Sanliang Caiguan say no MSG or food addictives are used in its food. Instead, a broth simmered from chicken, duck, and pork serves as the base for most dishes. The menu includes images for each item, as well as English and Japanese translations, and high chairs are available for kids. The only drawback is the bathroom, which is clean but contains squat toilets only. Reservations are strongly recommended.
Sanliang Caiguan 叁两菜馆
Daily 11.30am-2pm, 5.30pm-10pm. 6 Langjiayuan, Tonghuihe Beilu, Chaoyang District (8589 6521, 137 1830 0499) 朝阳区通惠河北路郎家园6号院
Photo by SUI
This article originally appeared on p26 of the beijingkids March 2014 issue.
Check out the PDF version online at Issuu.com