Sunday, March 18, 2012

Beijing Memories: A Restaurant with No Name over the Houhai Lake

One of my favourite regional Chinese foods is Yunnanese. Why? Because it has the most unique and beguiling marriage of Chinese peppery spice and sweet, tangy, fruitiness. No wonder as the province borders Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. Chinese "fusion" has been going on for a long, long time.

Cosied up in one of the many hutongs 胡同 near Houhai Lake, No Name Restaurant charmed me with soft lighting, lanterns swinging above and an easy-going vibe. Everything on the menu called out to be eaten, simply because I'd never heard of so many ingredient and flavour combinations before. China has so many indigenous herbs that never make it pass its borders so there was plenty to be naive to.

Fried kidney beans reminded me of how the Southern Chinese love everything in a salted egg-yolk batter except there was no egg-yolk on these. Each bean was coated in a sandy spicy layer that was addictive: it's a true talent to turn a humble pulse into the dish you want to stuff your face with.

This fried lamb dish had sweet and sour flavours that sang. A perfect example of Yunnanese food, it had that Chinese heat from chilli and peppercorns and zesty fruit associated with Thai cooking.

We doused our rice with a curry that combined catfish and pork belly: that moreish salty and sweet taste kept coming back. It's the sort of dish that would make you lick your elbows if you didn't have table manners.

The visual delight of pineapple rice bolo fan 波咯饭 never bores me. When I've had this before the rice is usually plain, usually cooked with small bits of chopped potato and garlic. No Name stuffs their thorny fruit with black rice, nuts and chopped herbs, rich from the starchy rice itself and bathed in pineapple sunshine.

Dedicated to dear friend J who inspired me to go to Beijing. I can see why this was your favourite restaurant and fingers crossed, one day we'll go together! Absolutely a Hungry Female Top 5!

No Name Restaurant
1 Dajinsi Hutong (50m south of Yinding Qiao)Beijing 100009Tel: +86 (0)10.6618.6061

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The Yum List said...

Food served in a pineapple - looks amazing.

Sean said...

what a curious cuisine! i couldn't have identified anything from the photos alone. the first dish kinda looks like some sort of 'oh chien,' that fried oyster omelet thing. everything's so beautifully presented :D

Hungry Female said...

Yum: Isn't it attractive? I keep wanting to buy pineapples just to stuff them with rice!
Sean: We think we know Chinese food being Chinese but then we realise it's a big cuisine with lots to explore. The kidney bean dish was tricky to explain, it did have a batter around it but it didn't stick together like an omelette! And now you have me thinking of oh chien....!

Brighton Restaurant said...

Amazing Foods, absolutely tempting !

Mr Noodles said...

I love Yunnan food, and I went to their 'embassy' restaurant in Beijing, a couple of years ago. However, I think it might be hard to get transport the concept to the UK, as some of the ingredients are very rare.