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Also known by the names of Jing and Mandarin, the cuisine of Beijing is one of the most diverse in the nation.
Influenced by all the other culinary traditions within the Chinese realm, the cuisine of the capital grew through an exposure to the yushanfang, or the Emperor's Kitchen. The cooking facilities within the Forbidden City where the best cooks from all over China cooked to please the imperial family. Consequently, the cuisine of Beijing can be difficult to categorize.
As a generalization, the dishes of Beijing place an emphasis on the use of dark soy, sesame and scallions. Rice is less emphasized than in other regions and frying is the main method of cooking. Quite often, typical dishes from Beijing are small and individual, in contrast to the majority of Chinese cuisine where main-course portions are shared among diners.
Lao Beijing is a prime example of a restaurant cooking the dishes of Jing cuisine whipped up by Chef Ma Wei Qi.
The fried shredded pork and leek in a sweet dark sauce as well as the sweet and sour fish are dishes in which the food is delicately wrapped in fresh beancurd skin to show the individual nature of the cuisine. Both dishes are well balanced - the leek acting to refresh the palate and lift up the heavier fried meat. The xiao long bao (steamed juicy meat buns) were flavourful and tender with the pork soup being slightly sweet but without the strong porcine essence that sometimes accompanies inferior pork buns. The la mian (hand-pulled noodles) mixed with zhajiang (ground pork and a thick sauce of fermented soybean paste) was the exception to the rule of individual portioning - both light and rich, the fragrant noodles were served on one plate, more in keeping with the usual style of the Chinese table. JT