Being in Beijing, of course you must have the most famous dish in the city, Peking Duck. The fact that the duck is named by the city proves everything. Where there are the famous London Duck or Hong Kong roasted delight. Peking duck thrives in Beijing, China where there are more priced for their skin rather than the meat. This is perhaps why Peking Duck is so marvelous. Peking duck, a dish from Beijing that has been prepared from the imperial era. You can also delight your eyes with the dish usually being sliced in front of the diners by the cook. The crispy skins are usually paired with thin pancakes and cucumbers. After making the decision to travel to Beijing, same it goes for the hunt, of the best Peking Duck in town!
A little google search on the internet and you will find a countless amount of recommendation of Peking Duck, from Quanjude to Dadong. Why Siji Minfu? Something hit my mind when I was researching “non touristy and old beijing” experience and this is why it is the best Peking Duck in town. In fact, in contrast to the rest, Siji Minfu only have two outlets, not like the other chain, the 2 little outlets do not take reservations as well. In fact they are also the local go to place when they are craving for duck as well. With the hunting mindset in mind, off I go! HOWEVER WHAT I DIDN’T EXPECT WAS A 3 HOURS WAIT FOR A TABLE! AND I NEVER GAVE UP! It better be the best duck ever!
Now, I finally know why China originated restaurants service are that good, throughout the trip, I have constantly see people waiting outside the restaurants with chairs, having a drink, peanuts while waiting for a table. And it usually create a huge crowd outside the restaurant. Just like the Hai di Lao Steamboat that we have here in Singapore. Because simply, the crowd is too bad! This was the same, outside the little entrance of Siji Minfu, there where at least 50 or more people awaiting. We took a queue number and settled down, waiting for a table. Perhaps the one tip that I will give, do not come here hungry. The wait will make you famished instead. There are chairs, water, tea and a few different kind of snack mix on offer. I also kept myself entertained with the chefs preparing the duck!
3 hours, 360 mins, 10800 Seconds later, we were finally shown to our table. Tired, Famished and Sticky. In contra to the entrance, there were actually lots of tables inside, the dining hall is huge, grand and fresh. It was a busy place with numerous noise of diners. We were shown to a table inside, full of hungry dinners and the performance of chefs slicing the duck expertly!
Dining in Beijing does seems affordable, especially as a tourists, in fact, this is already one of the most expensive meals in town, but still relatively affordable in our terms. Besides of course the duck, we got a couple of other dishes as well. Upon ordering, they start the service with a platter of grapes, served on ice and a little dry ice mist effect. Something extraordinary I would say, definitely a Michelin star feel.
Here is the menu, for anyone who is interested!
Let’s start with the Duck, we got the half duck, which comes in at 128 RMB, about 25 SGD. Here is how every order will go. Given the era of smart phone and social media, everyone wants to take a video of the duck being prepared and the highlight was definitely seeing how the chef expertly slicing the skin and meat. When your duck is here, the chef will prepare it tableside before plating it nicely. I have to say the duck was definitely out of the world, the skin is glossy, crispy and yet not greasy. The skin, fat and meat layer was so clearly define. Regret not ordering a full duck instead!
Upon the server recommendation, we also got the Roasted Meat with Shallots, which seems to be the favourite among the diners around the room. It came in at 68 RMB, 13.50 SGD. It is actually thinly sliced lamb belly, sautéed with lots of shallots and chinese wine. It is extremely tender and fragrant. I was actually super skeptical, since I am usually very afraid of the gamey smell. However there wasn’t much smell and it is a perfect complement for rice.
We got another of the recommendation, the Deep Fried Shrimp with Honey, coming at 79 RMB, around 16 SGD. I love the pairing of the shrimp and the honey, it leads to a sweet and salty combination which is awesome. The dish also provides a different variation in contra to the meaty dishes that we had. I love that the prawns were huge and the shells were also flavourful and crispy, which makes it perfect for chewy on them! However, the dish just tasted good and executed well.
The last dish that we got was the Mapo Tofu with Sea Cucumber! All the spicy food that I had in Beijing was awesome and blew my mind away. I simply got to try this classic dish while in town. However, it actually blew my mind way off since it is so spicy and numbing that I felt like scolding expletives. The sea cucumber is simply there to elevate the dish, making it classy. In fact this is the only dish that we couldn’t finish as we were so full and it is so god damn spicy. But at the same time, the numbing sensation is so damn awesome. A dish that I love and hate at the same time. A rice finisher dish! The dish comes at 35 RMB, 7 SGD.
In conclusion, this is the best meal that I had in Beijing. Worthy of the 3 hours wait? Yes it is! I will definitely come back here for a meal when I am back in town. Well worth of the wait, although I would plan to take a number and then be back in time. Service is not the best but the food? The duck is magical, out of the world. While the tofu was life changing. It is nice just that being foreigners, we aren’t used to the spice level. Every dish was great and it was money well spend. It might be expensive for local standard, but the whole meal cost us just 64 SGD in total. In fact, the portion are huge as well, as you can see in the photos. Check it out and let me know how you feel about Siji Minfu!