>> Beijing Tasty House 北京缘 | Eat the World Los Angeles

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

Beijing Tasty House 北京缘

CHINA 🇨🇳
(BEIJING)
Valley Blvd. facade

(There is another location in Rowland Heights)

COVID-19 UPDATE: The interior dining room is fully open and back to being the only option. Staff and most customers still wear masks and plastic partitions are still up for those ordering takeout.

Hiding behind bushes, trees, and Chinese characters if you do not read that language, the stand-alone building that houses Beijing Tasty House seems kind of sleepy from the outside during the middle of the day. You probably would not even notice it if you were driving down Valley Blvd. The shades are pulled, the neon sign may or may not be on, and all the parking takes place behind the building.

Opening the doors reveals a much busier scene, with staff on the move between the kitchen and tables in a dining room large enough to make sure they get good exercise. The aromas you smell when coming in or sitting at your table are full of flavors that are not exclusive to Beijing, and the menu follows suit with many offerings from various parts of China.

Personalized napkins

But as plates of Peking duck make their way to every other table, it becomes clear that it would be a mistake not to try that or some of the other specialties from China's capital city region. Since they are not exclusively a Peking duck specialist, an order requires calling ahead at least an hour before to reserve the dish so they can prepare a specific amount.

If you have the chance to sit in the front of the restaurant, you can keep your eyes on the small window to the kitchen that is the focal point of most energy. Dishes almost too large to fit through that window keep emerging from the back, where a small army of chefs is constantly in motion.

Beijing "Zha Jiang" Sauce Noodle 老北京炸酱面

As you will see when things show up to the table, each dish is fresh and takes some time to prepare, but everything happens at a good rate nonetheless. If you order it, the zha jiang mian ($13.99, above and below) will probably come first, with all ingredients served separately in little dishes. The server will dump everything except for the "fried sauce" onto the noodles, which you can take and mix in thoroughly.

Besides the salty, fermented bean paste that gives the dish its name, the thick and wide wheat noodles are joined by an array of items meant to contrast with crunch. There are small pieces of celery, bean sprouts, cucumber, and soybeans, all meant to be picked out from the eventual mix and enjoyed in between bites of the soft, chewy noodles.

After mixing Beijing "zha jiang" sauce noodle 老北京炸酱面

You may find these hard to detach from the rest, which makes you wonder if the bowl is filled with just one extremely long noodle. While this makes it hard to share with friends you normally are not so close to, it is worth trying the version here because it is so good.

A lot of dishes that have the word "Beijing" in the title are natural draws here, including the Beijing lazy dragon roll ($10.99, below), a steamed pork loaf that arrives at the table looking like a cinnamon roll. This dish alone would be enough food for two, but it travels well and can be re-steamed at home if necessary.

Beijing Lazy Dragon Roll 老北京懶龙

The wheel is filled with thin pork that has the consistency of breakfast sausage and has a tasty layer of sauce on both sides. At its peak freshness when sitting at the restaurant and hot in your hand, bites of it seem to melt in your mouth. Its addictive nature makes resisting it and filling up before other dishes get to the table hard.

Especially when dining with friends or family, a Beijing fried green onion pancake ($8.99, below) is a good order for the table. After having the noodles, the steamed dragon roll, and now this, it becomes apparent that the restaurant has a true skill with all things involving dough. A crisp outside conceals an enjoyably chewy inner layer and thankfully not an overuse of the namesake green onions which can sometimes overwhelm versions that cannot rely on good dough and baking perfection.

Beijing Fried Green Onion Pancake 葱油饼

While it was a small point of contention, no dipping sauce was served with the dish, allowing you to focus completely on the pancake's textures and tastes. In the end, this is the right decision, as some type of salty soy sauce or spicy chili would only cover the pancake's subtle nature.

The last entry on the great dough scoresheet during this meal was the Beijing-style pork sandwich ($11.99, below), which employs dense and crisp bread. This type of sandwich is of course adapted from the Shaanxi-style roujiamo (肉夹馍), the equivalent of a hamburger and ubiquitous throughout China these days and available with many ingredients.

Beijing-style Pork Sandwich 老北京肉夹馍

Xi'an and Beijing are both considered northern cities despite being relatively far away, and because of this you can rely on the bread to be made with wheat flour like the rest of the dishes. Many roujiamo found at takeaway restaurants in China are full meals already, but here at Beijing Tasty House they are stuffed with ground pork and vegetables to the point of bursting and can hardly be eaten when walking down the street.

The menu here is large and has sections of whole fish you can have cooked at your table, lamb hot pots to share with a group, and a lot of dishes from around the country as mentioned before. At this meal, some spice was desired for life in the form of pork wonton in spicy sauce ($11.99, below). This bowl arrives with eight or so dumplings that are submerged in a deep reddish-brown murky sauce with bright, oily highlights.

Pork Meat Wonton in Spicy 红油抄手

While the word "spicy" is in the name, the most forward notes of this earthy dish are ginger and a sweet nuttiness. A slight ma la will touch your lips, but even folks who are not fans of spicy dishes will probably not be unable to enjoy this one.

Once again as expected, the wrappers of the wonton are a joy and another example of skill with dough from the kitchen, but the unexpected flavors are the real joy here.

Fried beef with cumin 孜然牛肉

Not even close to finishing all this food, a good-looking plate of fried beef with cumin ($18.99, above) arrived at a nearby table and its aroma forced a to-go order to be added to the bill. This has much less spice and ma la than it appears to have, but the slices of beef are tender and good enough to make the dish hit well.

In the future, meals here will have at least four people in the group so that those whole fish, hot pots, and especially the Peking duck can be enjoyed to get a further sense of what the restaurant has to offer.

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