For those who crave spicy food, Sichuanese restaurants are heaven. Beijing has quite a few Sichuanese restaurants, which offer an authentic taste for those who are homesick thousand miles away from home, as well as those who are obsessed with spicy food.
Huatian Emei Restaurant
Restaurant, Chinese, $$$
Kong Pao Chicken is probably the most popular Chinese dish overseas, and you wouldn’t want to miss the chance of trying it genuine taste in China. The Huatian Emei Restaurant, a classic Sichuanese restaurant founded in 1950, is especially known for this dish. The dish was reformed by the restaurant’s chef Wu Yusheng, and was praised as the “Number One Dish” by the current Chinese president Xi Jinping’s father, late politician Xi Zhongxun.
If you are seeking the genuine taste of other Chinese cities’ cuisines in Beijing, the most fool-proof method is to go to restaurants that belong to those cities’ offices in Beijing. The Gong Yuan Shu Lou is the restaurant for the Sichuan Office in Beijing, therefore it is often called “Old Chuanban” by the locals. Though the restaurant is hidden in the hutong, it is still always crowded with customers thanks to its fame.
New Chuanban (Restaurant of the Longzhaoshu Hotel)
Maybe it’s because the Old Chuanban is feeling the burden of its popularity that the Sichuan Office in Beijing later opened another official restaurant in Fenzhongsi. Located outside of lithe South 3rd Ring Road, the New Chuanban is less crowded than its brother, and has a spacious yard which is decorated like a poetic Chinese garden. Its Mapo Tofu is one of the best in Beijing.
If you are familiar with Sichuanese cuisine, then you might know about “fly restaurants,” the name Sichuanese people give to the roadside stalls which are crudely decorated but have amazing food. The chain restaurant Zhang Mama is one of such restaurants in Beijing. Benben Chicken and Stir-Fried Kidneys are must-try Sichuanese dishes here. And don’t forget to have its Durian Tofu Pudding for dessert!
The restaurant is hidden on the seventh floor of the Xidan International Building, but every weekend there’s a long queue waiting to be served. Apart from having to admit how insistent Chinese people are in terms of food, you must acknowledge Yuxin’s excellence in Sichuanese dishes too. Sautéed bullfrog in chili sauce and mao xue wang (boiled blood curd) are two dishes you shouldn’t miss.
The name sounds more like a night club than a restaurant, but it is indeed a chain Sichuanese restaurant that vows to tempt you with spicy food. Its specialty, boiled fish in hot sauce, has a perfectly merged numbing and spicy taste. It is served with a bread that is supposed to absorb some of the chili oil away from the dish, which is said to have the magical power of making the dish taste even better.
Rather than the traditional, original Sichuanese taste, this chain restaurant is more dedicated to creating new taste combining Sichuanese dishes with other cuisines. Some of the dishes are less spicy and more sweet, so it might be a good choice for those who prefer sweet food. The must-try dish is the top rank dongpo pork (braised pork belly), a Hangzhou dish with chili, the ingredient most used in Sichuanese cuisine.
This restaurant became famous in quite an unconventional way—it was the restaurant where the secret date between Chinese diva Faye Wong and her boyfriend was caught by paparazzi. But gossips put aside, Enjoy Mala does have a taste spoken highly of by its customers. The mixed vegetables boiled in sauce, a famous Sichuanese dish where you choose the vegetable and meat to be cooked, is a must-try dish here. The lao ma ti hua (cooked pig feet) is one of the few dishes that is not spicy in the restaurant, but its soup that is so fresh and tasty that you would regret it if you don’t order the dish.
Founded in 1995, this restaurant invented the special way of eating spicy hotpot by letting customers choose skewered meat and vegetables in the restaurant before putting them in the pot. It was widely accepted by people in Chengdu, a Sichuan Province and gradually introduced to other cities, including Beijing. Chuanchuanxiang is a successful attempt to introducing street-boiled meat and vegetables into indoor restaurants.
Zhuti stands out from all the Sichuanese hotpot restaurants because of its special papaya pig feet soup. The pig feet are said to be stewed extremely delicately and go perfectly with the taste of papaya. A cute fact is that the restaurant’s name, Zhuti, is homonym to the Chinese name of pig feet. Remember to order the sour plum drink to go with your hotpot, as the sweet-sour taste of plum added with the osmanthus flowers wouldn’t let you down.