last year, my quest for beggar’s chicken brought me over to Wu Ming Ju, home of one of the better versions of the dish in Beijing. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to try a few more and even managed to make it all the way to Hangzhou for arguably the most authentic Beggar’s Chicken known to mankind.
So when B called asking for a good place in Beijing to get that oh so lovely concoction, I didn’t hesitate in recomending their establishment. We did get lucky making a reservation the same day where they had one spare chicken for us. mind you, the price of the chicken has now gone up to 220 RMB… and that is one hell of a steep one if you ask me. Still, B’s family was in town and it was worth the money/trip for the quality they delivered.
The meal consisted of a few classics, mainly the Beggar’s Chicken, some eggplant, a gongbao jiding, some yam and dumplings to finish it off. All dishes were well executed and the service, much like the previous time around, was impeccable. That said, something was amiss!!!!
A year ago, the chicken tasted and felt so special. This time around, it was just good.It was the same process from what I could see with the lotus leaf, a fantastic stuffing of mushrooms and other bits but it lacked that little extra touch.
The gongbao, while looking right, came off a bit bland, with no personality. It’s as if they saw foreigners coming in and decided to play it safe.
The eggplant dish was the highlight of the evening with a lovely balance of soy sauce and vinegar but not so much as it would ruin the natural flavors of the dish. probably the best executed dish of the evening.
Maybe I was over enthousiastic the first time around and i’ve become more aware of what certain things would taste like. Maybe, because it was an off night, the restaurant didn’t have their best cooking team around… who knows… still, while remaining one of the better restaurants around, it’s hard to justify the price tag that Wu Ming Ju now commands. They’ve put themselves in line with the Da Dongs and Quanjudes without really deserving it as far as I’m concerned. And at that price tag, I’m not willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Gonna have to try the beggar’s chicken at Made in China next… heard lovely things about it.
Wuming Ju 无名居
Màizi Diàn Zǎo Yíng Běilǐ 32 Hào
Tel: 010-65021568 65021537
Original Wu Ming ju Review: