Families with sensitive taste buds may shudder at the thought of stereotypically fiery Sichuan dishes. While the Chengdu Representative Office’s Shudu Binguan restaurant certainly has its share of spicy fare, there are also many milder choices with just the right amount of kick for young ones.
The restaurant’s unassuming aesthetic – with lazy Susans and hardly a trace of culturally-relevant decor on the walls – may not look impressive, but don’t be fooled. The dishes on offer are by far the most delicious of all the five eateries sampled by this reviewer for beijingkids’ January issue. The restaurant strikes a perfect balance between light, yet filling fare that is boldly flavorful without being overpowering. The dishes fittingly capture the essence of Sichuan, a southwestern province known for its fertile plains and mountains. An array of vegetables and herbs provide the variety of ingredients used in this sophisticated cuisine.
As fantastic as the dishes are, Shudu Binguan isn’t without its flaws. Expat families may struggle with the all-Chinese menu that has no trace of pinyin or even pictures, along with the lack of western toilets, along with its somewhat obscure location in the back of a hotel that doubles as the Chengdu Representative Office. But the tasty dishes, and their low prices, make this excursion more than worthwhile.
Major ingredients and condiments: Pork, chicken, cabbage, cauliflower, and a host of other vegetables. Sichuan pepper, ginger and a vast array of herbs for seasoning.
Main preparation methods: Stir frying, steaming, deep frying, gan shao (dry braising), gan bian (dry frying), shui zhu (water poaching)
- Pork soup wonton (清汤抄手, qingtang chaoshou): Kids can finish each of these chewy little morsels in a bite or two, and the soup that these dumplings are served in is fittingly mild for youngsters. Parents and older children with more adventurous tastes can try the spicier soup version, which has a far bigger kick. RMB 8 for a small bowl of six wonton.
- Stir-fried shrimp with cucumber (白果炒虾球, baiguo chao xiaqiu): These ocean-fresh prawns are light and slightly crispy, a healthy and satisfying entree that the entire family can share. RMB 68.
- Sticky rice soup balls with sesame filling (醪糟汤圆, laozao tangyuan): While these plain little white blobs may not look like much on the outside, one bite is guaranteed to tickle your sweet tooth. The glossy sesame filling is naturally sweet without becoming saccharine, making this dish a good finisher for the meal. RMB 8.
Family facilities: The restaurant only has squat toilets without toilet paper or soap at the sink. There are no highchairs or children’s cutlery. You’ll need to go with a Chinese friend or be able to read Chinese; the menu is in Chinese only, with no English, pinyin, or pictures. The restaurant is non-smoking.
Shudu Binguan Restaurant (Chengdu Representative Office) 成都驻京办餐厅
Shudu Hotel, 30 Shatan Houjie, Dongcheng District (6403 4440 ext 2241) 东城区沙滩后街30号蜀都宾馆
Photos: Kyle Mullin