Authentic Cantonese roasts travel north
Updated: 2012-07-29 07:15
By Ye Jun in Beijing (China Daily)
Cantonese roast goose and duck are well-made and flavorful. Ye Jun / China Daily
Cantonese cuisine is world-renowned. If you are looking for a convenient, comfortable place to have some tasty Cantonese delicacies in Beijing, try Hengshan Cafe.
The Shanghai-based restaurant has opened its second branch in the capital. Located on the fifth floor of LG Twin Towers, the restaurant appears to emphasize taste rather than looks, judging from its simple food presentation. The style of interior decor is bright and comfortable.
Like its other branch in Beijing at Xiaoyun Street near the US embassy, this restaurant has a big fish tank. Patrons can choose between the public areas with big windows facing Chang'an Avenue, and eight private rooms.
With its first branch in Beijing, Hengshan has already established a good reputation for authentic Hong Kong-style breakfast (better known as "morning tea" in Cantonese), dim sum, classic fried dishes and roast meats.
The restaurant has a healthy concept, and does not use monosodium glutamate or artificial flavors or colors in the food.
The restaurant also offers a unique complimentary dish for patrons - the leftovers from its soup of the day, usually pork bones, chopped lotus root, green beans - served with a dash of soy sauce.
For appetizer, the restaurant serves taicai, an interesting emerald-colored, crunchy cold dish, which is uncommon in Beijing. Made with dried vegetable produced in Anhui and Jiangsu provinces, the dish was served to Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) emperors, and thus, got its name "tribute dish".
Salt-braised shrimps wrapped in foil are almost fool proof. The shrimps are skewered on bamboo sticks and served in a wooden bucket full of salt.
You would not have tasted Cantonese cuisine if you did not try its roast meats.
Hengshan Cafe has a delightful mixed platter of three different roast meats: roast goose, roast suckling pig, and barbecued pork. Different from Beijing-style roast duck, Cantonese roast goose and duck are well-marinated and flavorful.
Its suckling pig has a layer of golden crispy skin, and tender meat.
There are also vegetarian dishes.
An absolute winner at the restaurant is the bean-curd platter, with four kinds of tofu dishes prepared in different flavors with special sauces.
Among them, the "goose meat" is made of fragrant shiitake mushrooms and bamboo slices wrapped in thin bean curd, and the "chicken" is actually small pieces of marinated bean curd.
Another two kinds of bean curd taste good, too, one coated with sweet and sour sauce, another cooked in coconut milk.
Two other recommended options are a deliciously dry-baked fish head in sandstone pot, and a beautiful egg tart that melts in the mouth.
Unfortunately, the roast pigeon was not well done the day we ate there.
The restaurant is comfortable, but not luxurious.
It is definitely a suitable venue for white-collar workers around the area to have a quick but tasty bite. Many of the dishes are worth trying out.
Hengshan Cafe is also said to be the favorite haunt of certain celebrities from Hong Kong. Who knows, you may just spot some stars when you dine there next.
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