I take awards in china not with grains of salt, but mountain sized blocks of it! but when i hear that a hole in the wall restaurant wins the distinction of being the best in Beijing and then that distinction is actually confirmed by foodies like Eileen Wen Moonie whose opinion i trust, I get curious. And when i get curious, I get the crew out for a meal!
As yours truly had Birthday drinks in the Gu Lou area, Guo Yao Xiao Ju 国肴小居 seemed like the best option for a good dinner in good company… and it panned off!
The restaurant is tucked in an alley off of Andingmen nei, just south of Fang Jia hutong but it’s quite easy to find compared to other places i’ve ended up at over the past few years. The outside is fairly standard but once you go inside, a surprise awaits: The coziest, classiest little gem in Beijing! It’s clean, sober without being over the top! 3 waitresses were on hand to deal with 4 tables and 1 private room. Yes, it’s small and reservations are recommended.
They boost a simple menu with the names in English and Chinese, making it relatively easy to choose and deceivingly simple to navigate. The deception mostly comes in from the fact that some of the dishes are individual servings whereas others are in fact center plates to be shared! I wish they actually were more specific about this.
how’s the food? Legit! Between 10 of us, we sampled a fair bit of items on the menu, none more popular that their fried giant shrimps that were amazingly done! It’s rare to taste anything deep fried that actually has some flavor. We ordered over 6 portions in the end!
The eggrolls with chives and duck 鸭丝蛋卷 were exquisite. The mixed mushrooms dish was complex beyond anything i had tasted before.. heck, I could have sworn it was some sort of meat. Nice tangy sauce that was not overpowering but yet managed to linger on for a bit of time. The black chicken soup was also a popular item that just got swallowed down faster that you could spell W-O-W
The venison stew was a bit of a let down, especially compared to the awesome one they have at Na Jia Xiao Guan of which i am a huge fan. Not to say that it was bad, far beyond me! It’s just that i didn’t care for the taste. Another one i took a pass on was the beef knuckles but for those that like them, they couldn’t get enough.
The staff was another highlight of this place, being extremely friendly and attentive, without crossing into overbearing territory. There were within one kick call away and handled the whole dinner beautifully in light of the mess we made: a reservation for 12 persons at 7:30 turned into a smaller 7 person gathering, the last of which came in as the kitchen closed. We still managed to scour a bit of rice out of them though.
I’m no expert on Tan cuisine but my understanding is that it’s a subset of Manchurian Imperial Cuisine, vaguely related to what they serve at Na Jia Xiao Guan. The similarities were definitely there but i do think them different enough to warrant their own category.
At the end of the day, a great meal is a great meal and Guo Yao Xiao Ju delivered! I will be back there soon to enjoy it all over again!
Guo Yao Xiao Ju 国肴小居
Dōngchéngqū Jiāodao Kǒuběi Sān Tiáo 58 Hào
tel: 010-6403 1940