I think we’ve all had enough of depressing food safety articles, haven’t we? So, I’ve decided to provide a ray of hope and tell you about a Chinese restaurant chain that is extremely healthy, inexpensive, fun, family friendly, and clean (“A” rating). It should be #1 on the expat mag lists of Top Chinese Restaurants, and yet inexplicably there has yet to be one major review by the expat mags. What is this gem, which is given 2 out of 3 stars in Frommers, is packed by locals but still off the laowai radar?
It’s called Xibei Youmian Cun (or just Xibei), a chain started by Canadian Chinese, and it offers northwestern China food (a Mongolian and Shanxi mixture). Think of it as hearty peasant food — lots of vegetables and lamb dishes. But the key here is that almost no oil is used in the dishes; their vegetable selection is by far the best and cleanest I’ve seen in China; and their emphasis on whole wheat and baked products is inspiring. They are so confident in their methods that their kitchen is open for all to watch. It’s actually quite enjoyable to watch the women make plate after plate of rolled oats. I like a lot of dishes, including their fresh yogurt drink, their lamb skewers, rolled oats, and their mushroom sizzling platter. But almost every dish is very tasty — and healthy. It’s such a great feeling to leave a Chinese restaurant and actually feel healthier and energized! Xibei is, by far, the best example I’ve seen of what the future of Chinese restaurants should be.
You can read more, in Chinese, at their own website (西贝莜面村-首页). As for locations, their big one is still at southwest third ring at liuliqiao, but there is now a new one just off the southeast corner of third ring and airport road (behind Silver Tower; tel. 63453535 or 63453636).
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