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2008/07/08

100 Days, 100 Restaurants: Yunnnan Revisited

Earlier I took a look at some of Beijing's better choices for Yunnan food, now I can add one more to the list. Among the uniquely Chinese characteristics found in Beijing, one that stands out for guormands is the provincial offices. These are usually buildings that house a hotel, office space, and typically a restaurant. They are sort of like little embassies representing each province (and in some cases major city) of the country, though they serve little more than a ceremonial purpose.

22. Yunteng Binguan
Not far from the train station you will find Yunnan's provincial office, housed in Yunteng Binguan, that, like many of the others, includes a very interesting restaurant. When you enter the hotel, whose entrance is off a 2nd Ring Road access road and in a very residential area, you don't expect the restaurant to be very much, but then you enter a lush, green area that almost replicates a "Rainforest Cafe" with its hanging plants and flowing water. Surprisingly, the restaurant received an "A" grade for its health/sanitary standards, though it was a bit surprising looking at the old table clothes and chair covers.

The food was your average Yunnan fare, prices weren't bad, though many seemed on the high end, especially those for Yunnan's famous mushrooms, but that's what you pay for having fresh ones flown in. However, a common local dish like grilled fish cost was only RMB9 per fish. Niu Gan Ba was an excellent starting dish and the cold mi xian was also very good. The mint salad is supposedly a favorite, but we didn't order it (though we could have ued the added green). The kitchen went a little wrong with hei san dou, another classic, which was extremely salty and a dry fried potato cake which was way undercooked (though after arguing with our waiter and having it cooked a little longer, the flavor improved, but it still fell short of expectations). The mijiu was excellent, when it finally came. A large tong (container) of it only ran us RMB50 and produced the said amount of glasses (about 8). It was unique from other rice wines I've tried as it seemed to have a fruit added to it, producing a different, sweet flavor from other rice wines.

From the above complaint, you can probably guess that service was far from satisfactory. While it seemed the restaurant had a large wait staff, most of the time they were just standing around or not on the floor and they were very slow at bringing many of the things we asked for. One nice advantage to the absent waitstaff was that we weren't rushed out after finishing the meal and were able to sit and chat while finishing off the mijiu for well over an hour, however one wonders if on a busier night, we would have been rushed out.

The atmosphere was unique, but not necessarily in an attractive way. The food offerings were only average and prices weren't great. The meal came out to RMB65 per person, similar to Middle 8 and In & Out. For that price, I'd choose to Middle 8's more modern/trendy atmosphere and equally good (or better) food. If you're looking for some of the most authentic Yunnan ingredients flown in fresh, this place has them (but so do a lot of the other Yunnan restaurants in the city), however only Yunteng has the Yunnan government's seal of approval.

Yunteng Binguan
Bldg 7, East Area, Donghuashi Beili,
southwest of Dongbianmenqiao
东花市北里东区7号楼东便门桥西南
6711-3322

1 comment:

Hotpoter said...

I went there last year and had the Cross Bridge Rice Noodle, it was pretty good.