Xiao Diao Li Tang 小吊梨汤 is a type of drink made using pears amongst other ingredients including goji berries, sugar, and snow fungus, and is a hot drink popular for consumption traditionally in Beijing’s autumns and winters (Baidu Jingyan). It is also the name of a chain of restaurants spread across the Chaoyang and Haidian Districts of Beijing, also with one in the Shunyi District, which is the one shown in the photos below. The atmosphere and food of this restaurant makes it a great place for a date night or a cultural experience for those with older, well-behaved children.
The interior of the restaurant uses a style of decor that is neither completely traditional nor modern, yet incorporating influence from a different Chinese eras and the life of the upper middle social class. It evokes the style of life of a local Beijing inhabitant towards the latter half of the last century, and while not very authentic in its decor neither is it attempting to be so. It is by no means a luxurious or expensive dining spot, but it does serve a selection of dishes that are very characteristic of traditional and local Beijing food.
The image immediately above shows a dish that is very easy to make and also very low-cost. It is essentially the same as french toast, except instead of toast, it uses mantou 馒头, a kind of white steamed bun. The mantou is cut up into thick slices, coated with a layer of egg, and then fried. The dark maroon colored cube on the lower left hand side of the mantou is fermented tofu, or fermented bean curd, called doufuru 豆腐乳, to be eaten with the fried mantou. The mantou coated with egg is not fried to the point of crispiness and certainly not crunchiness, much like with some french toasts, it is fried to a golden color but still retains a softness that makes it yielding to the bite.
The restaurant features a wide glass windowpane that stretches along the length of one small wall in a compartment of the overall dining area, which allows a relatively open view into the kitchen, where chefs are cooking the dishes using large woks, as seen in the photo above. In the particular moment captured in the photo above flames are shooting up inside the wok, which is not necessarily unusual, especially if some ingredients were just added to the mixture.
In the above image, the almost orange colored dish to the left is xun yu 熏鱼 or a kind of smoked fish. Due to the way it was prepared, the fish breaks easily off into separate chunks as you bite it, making it easy to separate out the fishbones inside. There is a tinge of sweetness to the fish that blends well with its overall savory taste. To the right is a very simple vegetable and eggs stir-fried dish.
In the two photos above, the first shows a dish that uses a small chicken, and the second shows one using cabbage and tofu made in a broth. Both are very tasty and warming and probably great choices for dinner when the weather starts to get cold outside. The chicken dish is accompanied with a sweet dip, the dark reddish one in the lower left corner, and a kind of light tasting pepper spice in the upper left corner. The chicken itself is not necessarily bland, but does not have a strong distinct flavor, and therefore eating it with these additional condiments definitely complicates the taste in a pleasant manner. The chicken is prepared such that the skin on the outside is slightly crisp, and the method of preparation makes the dish more fragrant as well. The tofu and cabbage, being cooked in the broth, are very soft and warm, making it easy to chew.
Last but certainly not least, the bronze colored kettle above is the titular drink of the restaurant, the xiao diao li tang 小吊梨汤 mentioned above. It’s served in small cups and has a very smooth texture that glides down your throat in a silky way. It’s sweet but not in a sugary way, and has a suggestion of fruitiness. One may find oneself drinking cup after cup without getting tired of the taste.
Below are listed two locations of this restaurant chain in the Shunyi and Chaoyang Districts, although there are also numerous other locations in the Chaoyang District and the Haidian District, making it very accessible to people living in different areas of these districts. It is not a pricey restaurant, with a cost of probably about RMB 60-70 per person for a meal, and you’ll definitely be full at the end.
Xiao Diao Li Tang 小吊梨汤
Open every day, 11am-3pm, 5-9.30pm. Expect to pay approximately RMB 80 per person.
32 Yumin Street, Houshayu Village, Shunyi District (West of Super 8 Hotel) 顺义区后沙峪镇裕民大街32号（速8酒店西）(8047 4533; 188 1056 2162)
39 Shenlu Road, Chaowai Street, Chaoyang District (north of Ritan Upper Street and east of Ritan International Hotel) 朝阳区朝外大街神路街39号日坛上街北侧（日坛国际酒店东侧）(5720 5566; 188 1108 8255)