Worst Kept Secret: Dali Renjia Serves Awesome Yunnan Fare

It’s the kind of place you never want to tell people about because it’s so awesome, wholesome, friendly and just good.. but since the secret is out already, might as well sing its praises! I talking about this little hole in the wall at 80 Baochao Hutong: Dali Renjia 大理人家
This one came as a recommendation from TBJ food editor, Tom Tom O’Malley, back in February of this year, when they first opened. I’ve been there a whole slew of times since then and loved every single meal. An earlier write-up was scraped when i heard about their menu change and then life happened. The menu change has not changed the place much: It’s got pictures and English names which are a welcome addition.

So, how is the food? Look at the pictures and judge for yourself! They fried chicken is a worthy competitor to most places’ laziji in terms of achieving a balance of crispiness and juiciness. The cold beef noodles with lime are out of this world good but not for everyone due to their saltiness! On a particular visit, our party loved them so much we had to re-order twice.. we were all salt freaks! on another occasion, I was the only one to even touch the dish.

Their pineapple rice is easily the best one i’ve ever had, beating that of yunteng shifu by miles… considering how much i enjoy good old yunteng, this is a huge statement. The mushrooms and mixed veggies inside a banana leaf are a perfect accompaniment to their meaty fare and the lemongrass fish will leave you begging for more.

Not only are the elaborate fancy dishes good, the staff at Dali Renjia makes a simple crushed cucumber plate taste and look like a 5 star creation. Another must try is the mint beef, a lovely concoction of fresh mint leaves, tender slices of beef, vinegar, chilies and pure mouth watering goodness.

I’ve been impressed by the food and service every time I’ve gone there and so have most of my visitors. The restaurant is clean and well Kept. Sure, it’s a hole in the wall but it’s a classy one! The staff is friendly and attentive, an attitude i hope they keep. Some dishes are insanely popular and run out towards the end of the night but that’s just one reason to experiment and try new ones. Don’t forget to try some of their special tipples like a plum liquor and other types of rice wine.

The prices are slightly higher than your average Chinese restaurant but the quality is fantastic. Some dishes are typical Yunnan fare whereas others are more representative of the Dai minorities. While the restaurant still hasn’t received a lot of mainstream attention other than a few posts at the Beijinger, it’s already quite popular with the hutong hipsters… for once, they might actually be unto something.

The flavors at Dali Renjia, much more so than other yunnan eateries i’ve been to, manage to combine the southeast Asian and Chinese tastes beautifully. At some point during most dinners, you actually can forget that you’re in Beijing!

Dali Renjia 大理人家
80, bao chao hutong (off of Gulou Dong Da Jie)

On Dianping | The Beijinger

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