A supplement to my review of Dumpling Haus, and their Beijing Style food.
A few years ago whilst making the rounds, visiting all my relatives in China, bringing Schmoops along for their viewing pleasure, Schmoops and I went on a week-long tour to Beijing. The tour consisted of thirty or so Shanghainese people and one suspicious Caucasian guy whose Chinese girlfriend had to translate everything for him. Almost all the meals on the tour were included, and everybody on the tour started out happy. By the second day there was grumbling about the poor calibre of the food. By the third day self designated clique leaders began to complain to the very nice tour guide about the extremely bland food in Beijing. By the next day each dish that was put on the table and tasted immediately elicited jeers and sharp comments about how food gets worse the farther north one travels. The restaurants in Beijing were not going to improve anytime soon. To a Chinese person, the imminent prospect of a yet another bad meal is a soul-sucking depression-inducing cross to bear. By the end of the tour the tour guide had to arrange for extra dishes and complimentary drinks to appease the mob, in addition to making a public announcement decrying the restaurants, and begging the people not to let this reflect poorly on the “Tour Guide Performance” portion of their comment cards. Even on the days that Schmoops and I went out for our own meals, the food was bad. We went to Beijing’s (and China’s) most famous restaurant for Peking Duck and it was EXTREMELY BLAND.
Beijing food is bland. I have never heard a southern or central Chinese person say otherwise. I have never heard any Chinese people praising Beijing food, including people from Beijing. That is probably because, since food is as important to Chinese people as God is to religious people, we usually feel too sorry for northern people to discuss their food with them. Another reason not to talk to northern people about food is that it is scary. I once conversed with a person from Beijing about the sad lack of Chinese food here. She replied that she enjoys orange chicken and Americanized Chinese food in general.