Alright, the cat is out of the bag and a lof of talk is going around tweetland and blogland about The Beijinger 2010 restaurant awards. Get caught up with results and opinions here:
Let me quickly mention that I love the way The Beijinger organizes their awards and how they are probably the most democratic ones out there. That said, democracy gave us George W. twice and Element Fresh as best restaurant in Beijing last year so Caveat Imperator… These awards are not necessarily representative of quality, they are a popularity contest
I personally was ok with most choices except a glaring injustice to one of my favorite types of Chinese cuisines, Xinjiang Food. The most outstanding Xinjiang for 2010 was given to Red Rose! You gotta be joking, right? don’t get me wrong, I can’t and don’t fault the magazine because the readers voted on this. I just cannot understand how in the name of everything that is holy they managed to vote so wrong in this category. Crescent Moon got special mention and so did my neighborhood chuan’r stand… the irony… I think I would have been happier with “my neighborhood chuan’r stand” getting most outstanding than Red Rose whose food, service, staff and attitude swim steadily in the sea of mediocrity. It’s not even about food there, it’s just a belly dancing gimmick.
Anyways, I got to thinking: What would the locals pick? which restaurants would they give the awards to? so I set off on a dianping quest to see which restaurants were most popular in their categories for the ones that mattered to me: Sichuan, Xinjiang, Duck and Overall.
- South Beauty (winner)
- Chuan Ban, Spice Spirit (mentions)
1- 陶然居 – Tao Ran Ju
2- 川办餐厅 – Chuan Ban
3- 江边城外巫山烤全鱼(交大店) – Wushan Roasted The Entire Fish
4- 麻辣诱惑(君太店)– Spice Spirit (xidan Branch)
I picked the top 4 instead of the top 3 most popular because Spice Spirit had over 11,000 votes!!! Not much to say here in defense of the foreign tastebuds when it comes to South Beauty… Interesting choices from the local crown with 2 restaurants i never heard of.
- Red Rose (winner)
- Crescent Moon , My neighborhood Chuan’r stand (mentions)
1- 新疆饭庄 – Xinjiang Fanzhuang (Urumuqi Representative Office)
2- 燕兰楼(景山店) – Yan Lan Lou
3- 新疆办事处西域饭庄 – Xi Yu Restaurant (Xinjiang provincial restaurant)
No big surprise here from Dianping, both restaurants offer amazing fare. I expected the Kashgar representative office to be there as well but nope. I’m a bit surprised at Yan Lan Lou that I never heard of and is not on any foreign listing site. I’m so going there soon.
- Da Dong (winner)
- Quan Ju De , Duck de Chine (mentions)
1-花家怡园 – Hua Jia Yi Yuan (Beixinqiao branch)
2-大董烤鸭店(团结湖店) – Da Dong ( Tuanjiehu branch)
3-大董烤鸭店(金宝汇店) – Da Dong ( DongDan Branch)
I must admit I was surprised here: I expected a more obscure selection for the duck but it wasn’t so! I remember having a conversation recently about the locals being all about big names/brands and I guess it shows in terms of how many chains make it to the top of the ladder.
This one is a bit tricky to deal with as the best rated restaurants on Dianping happen to be bakeries.. yes, bakeries! That said, they do have a “Best Restaurant” section 北京最佳餐厅更新于.. low and behold what i found there:
1- Maison Boulud
2- 海底捞火锅(石景山店) – Haidilao (shijinshan brannch)
3- 利苑酒家 – Lei Garden (dongcheng)
I am not sure what to think of this and need a bit of time to process the information! It’s important to note the difference between most popular restaurants according to readers (for the categories above) and best restaurants (recommended by dianping according to ?? criteria). Still, it’s refreshing to see some consistency in terms of choices despite the difference in market segments and what not. A French restaurant, a Hot Pot place and an Imperial Cuisine joint rule the culinary scene in Beijing… it fits..it’s fitting! I like it.