We can talk about he fancy restaurants, exquisite molecular cuisine, foies gras and whatever other delicacies we’re heard of lately…. but sometimes, nothing beats the a simple dish done right… That’s what Xian Lao Man 馅老满 is good at. Day in and day out, Gulou’s best secret that everyone knows, is full of locals soaking up the dumplings, tea, gongbao jiding, and other jia chang cai done amazingly well.
(Note: The restaurant has 5 branches is Beijing but this review covers the one on Andingmen)
The menu is presented in a sheet of paper that looks like a giant lottery ticket…. all in Chinese though so it’s not tourist friendly per say. The staff is busy and doesn’t have time to babysit, especially during rush hour so arm yourself with a dictionary or speak a bit of Chinese as they’re more than willing to write down your order.
As far as dumpling options, the sky is the limit… they list a huge variety of combos, classics and weird, but nothing stops you from ordering your own creation: Yangrou Dacong 羊肉大葱 (lamb and chives) is just as acceptable as Huluobe Jidan 胡萝卜鸡蛋 （carrot and egg). Another favorite of mine is the Huluobo Xiangcai Dong Doufu 胡萝卜香菜冻豆腐 ( cilantro, carrot and Tofu)…
you get the idea. What makes a difference in this place is that when you slice open your dumpling, you can see exactly what’s in it… it’s not the mystery filling that you get in so many places around town…. and I love that. Of course, boiled/steamed dumplings are not the only thing these lads have… definitely order a plate or two of their Guo Tier (fried dumplings)
Sure, the noodles are the stars of the show but do not discount the rest of their goodies… the staff at Xian Lao Man can rock some pretty darn good dishes. How about a special version of a gongbao Jiding 宫保鸡丁 using dark meat? oh yeah.. pretty rocking! The madoufu 羊油麻豆腐, that venerable Beijing snack made from mung bean pulp fried in lamb fat and spiced up is often cited as one of the better ones in the city.
Their Dongbei Lapi 东北拉皮, yes that simple dish of cucumber, rice noodles all seasoned with sesame paste and vinegar, is made to perfection: never soggy or sticky, just right! The Zha Guanchang 炸灌肠 is a probably on of the most popular dishes in the house with every table sporting a plate… just don’t expect me to tell you what’s in it. Feeling more in the mood for a spicy dish? How about a balanced version of Shui Zhu Yu 水煮鱼 that won’t suffocate you with the capsicum fumes?
Some dishes are better avoided like their take on the the Laziji 辣子鸡 which tasted good but should have had a different name.
I could go on raving about this little gem or maybe better just leave it up to you! As far as I am concerned, it’s one of the top restaurants in Beijing value wise, especially for dumplings. Don’t get me wrong, I have been to Bao Yuan and think their Jiazi are ace… but give me Xian Lao Man for now and I’ll stay a happy satisfied man.
Xian Lao Man 馅老满 (andingmen)
āndìng Mén Nèi Dàjiē 252 Hào