Friday, 22 June 2007

嘉禾园素食 -- my favourite restaurant in BJ

I decided it was time to introduce my favourite restaurant in Beijing. 嘉禾园素食 (Jia he yuan su shi) or the "excellent grain garden vegetarian restaurant" (my translation, not sure if they have an English name) is located near Jishuitan metro station along the 2nd ring road north. But the place is quite hidden, in fact the first time I went there we had to call the place three times just to find it! It's hidden in a courtyard of houses, the sign at the gate of the courtyard says 北京地铁 (Beijing metro), which doesn't help matters. Even inside the right area it's easy to walk past the place. Basically from Jishuitan station you take exit A and walk west past the petrol station, and the first courtyard to the right after a short bit of green following the petrol station should have that sign. Within the area the restaurant will soon be on your right hand side.

Now assuming you find it, what you'll find inside is a quiet and comfortable environment and friendly staff. Perhaps due to being hard to find, this place is never crowded. The owners are Buddhists and that explains the decor as well as the music playing on the background. But of course it's a restaurant, so the best part would have to be the food. Everything in the menu is vegetarian, but not necessarily vegan. However, the dishes themselves don't tend to contain eggs or dairy (but do verify!). Among my friends this place is commonly known as "the potato fish restaurant". This is because the very first time I went there, I ordered a dish that was one of these mock fish things in sweet and sour sauce. To my surprise, this "fish" that looked realistic enough tasted like potatoes! For the simple reason that that's what it is. There's also pineapple at the bottom. It's pretty good, do have a try.

While the potato fish is a distinguishing feature, it's not my favourite dish in this great place. That would be their roasted mushrooms in a spicy sauce. I discovered by accident that if you have the mushrooms together with their shredded pancake, it's not too spicy at all, but still enough to wake up the taste buds. It's beautifully set too. A total delight.

Also noteworthy is their sweet taro, of which I have no photos at the moment, and this sweet potato dish featured on the left. A lot of other foods are tasty also, do go crazy experimenting! The only thing I don't like is the fake pork meat which they make too realistically, even adding in a layer of fake fat! What's the point? Nobody wants the fat anyway.

To complete a meal there's a complimentary fruit plate as is rather common in restaurants in China, well, the decent ones. What's more, this place also has vegetarian books on offer, many for free, and sometimes Buddhist music also.

Here's the address so you can find them, first in Chinese:
Or if you don't read Chinese but want to say it to a taxi driver:
Deshengmen Xidajie jia 5 hao.
Tel: 010 - 62261846


dreamy said...

wow! Potato fish, very interesting, probably a good substitutes for veg*ns who dun eat soy. The food looks delicious too!

Riesa said...

Ha, maybe you should learn how to make the mushrooms yourself, then I don't have to eat the spicy kind!!

urban vegan said...

Wonderful! When I was in Beijing, I lived on steamed veggie buns and tofu...they do it so well there. Keep the travelogues coming.

Seitan Wörshipper said...

You are Finnish vegan also? Great blog with nice pictures! I like wery mutch to read peoples travelling experiences, excpesially If they are dealing with veganism or animal rights etc.. Did you have ever travelled in Poland? I`m goig to travel in Krakow next month and I`m trying to get some usefull tips to being vegan in that country..

big joy! said...

Ahhhh, the infamous POTATO FISH! I stole your photo for studying. Thanks for posting (oh so long ago).