We stumbled upon Tie Fen (literal meaning: iron) restaurant while on our way to our regular late-night dining location in the heart of Dongsi. A real hole-in-the-wall, we might have missed the whole place if it weren’t for the fact that we were hungry and searching for immediate gratification. Turns out the porch, with statues of elephants and bodhisattvas, is home to a newly opened Vietnamese restaurant serving our beloved pho, spring rolls, and beef stews.
Since it’s a small restaurant with a relatively simple menu, we’ve managed to go often enough to have tried almost everything in just a few weeks. Tie Fen’s short and sweet menu is divided into appetizers, side dishes, pho, rice dishes, a la carte, and desserts.
The appetizers include three salads: a shrimp salad, a beef salad (pictured above), and a mango beef salad (pictured below). I’m not a fan of seafood, and our son’s too young for it, so we’ve only tried the beef salads so far.
The Mango beef salad is the tastiest, though after our first time ordering it we were smart enough to order it without spice (it normally comes with fresh red peppers to balance the sweetness of the mango).
They also have rice rolls with fish cake (pictured above) and fried spring rolls (pictured below), (non-fried).
Our son really likes the fried spring rolls, and I eat both types of spring rolls without the sweet and sour sauce (comes with the dish) and opt for hot sauce instead—yum!
We enjoy pho all year long, and our son enjoys soup, so we’ve ordered the beef pho (pictured), the raw beef pho, the chicken pho, and the spicy seafood pho (for the record, we didn’t feed our 2-year-old the last one). Personally, I prefer the chicken strip pho because it has a milder taste (and is not raw), but our child likes beef.
We have tried two rice dishes, including the beef stew and the chicken curry. The beef stew (pictured above) was well-made, but a little on the salty side for kids. The chicken curry was very spicy. It’s a good thing they serve ice cold water.
We honestly have not been ordering much of the a la carte because we simply don’t need that much food with the three of us, but we did order the fried fish. Our friends ordered the fish this one time we dined there with others and I hear it was good. It was during this dinner that we had also ordered the chicken skewers (they have beef as well), which had a refreshing tangy taste (pictured above).
For dessert, we’ve ordered the mango tapioca (pictured above) and the fruit cup (pictured below). The fruit assortment was perfect, and didn’t taste like canned fruit at all. However, the mango tapioca tasted more like passion fruit (perhaps they got the name wrong?), and was far too sweet. The tapioca was also too hard, lacking the chewy consistency that makes tapioca great.
We have also ordered their home-made drinks: Vietnamese coffee (both iced and hot) and Thai tea. The coffee was excellent, strong as should be, but the Thai tea wasn’t sweet enough.
Currently, for their grand opening, Tie Fen reimburses 20% in the form of a voucher (RMB 10 for RMB 50 spent, RMB 20 for every RMB 100 spent, etc.). In the future, Tie Fen also has a WeChat point system that allows subscribers to collect points for discounts.
Finally, Tie Fen has daily set combo deals where one can opt for a slightly smaller portion of pho or other main dish with an appetizer and dessert for a discount of over 25%. They will claim that the combo deal portions are not smaller, but they are.
Tie Fen, 北京市东城区东四北大街373号
Photos: courtesy of Jessica Suotmaa