Thank you for your patience kind readers as I indulge myself with a post a day for the nine days of my #NaiNaiVisit to Beijing. The trip is drawing to a close and normal slow-moving service with a post every week or two will resume shortly. But whatever about the rest of you, I’m hoping this series of posts will fix in my mind a special and gentle time with our grandson whose personality becomes more apparent with each passing day but who is still small enough to be always within sight when we are out and about – if we can keep up with him that is.

It’s been something of a toddler’s tour of Beijing as a result of his tender age. We haven’t made repeat visits to any of the major sights and we haven’t ventured far outside Beijing. There is a limit to how long a 15 month old can be kept entertained in the back of a taxi with no rear seat belts or baby seats.

Where he has been great is at tolerating our almost daily outings for lunch or dinner and joining in proceedings with gusto. It’s fun watching his reaction to foods he is tasting for the first time. We have kept the spicier foods away from him but he loves to try whatever we are having when we let him.

On Friday night we made a return visit to Yuxiang Kitchen Yuxiangrenjia – at Lido Square, the Sichuan Restaurant that inspired me to start the blog in the first place and which I first wrote about here. There are now 14 branches of Yuxiang Kitchen in Beijing and six in Shanghai but this branch is just 10 minutes down the road from Shane & Shan’s apartment so it is our local.

At 6.30 pm on a Friday evening the place was teeming with young families, work groups and a party of Chinese tourists in celebratory banquet mode. Sichuan spices assailed our senses as we crossed the threshold. The noise levels were ferocious, the pace of service was brisk but none of this distracted Dermot from relishing his first encounter with Sichuan Green Beans. He dug in to the beans like a pro and also gobbled up jiaozi made with pork and Chinese chives and shrimp spring rolls. That’s my grandson 🙂

The food was even better than I remembered it from our first visit nearly two years ago. Apart from the dishes Dermot shared we also had

A cold noodle dish with chicken slices

Deep fried radish and shrimp cake

Spiced mu ‘er – a cold dish of cloud-eared fungus

A mushroom and octopus dish made with baby octopus, dried tea tree mushrooms and another type of long mushroom

Crispy duck breast

Chicken with fresh green and red chillies, garlic, ginger and bunches of fresh green Sichuan peppercorns that brought “mouth numbing” to a whole new level

and

Chilli beef made with long fresh green chillies (the milder ones), dried red chillies, black beans (dou chi), ginger, garlic onions, coriander stalks and leaves and Sichuan pepper.

This time we didn’t order the fish heads in boiling oil.

This was accessible food that packed a powerful Sichuan punch. It may not be quite as authentic as our hotpot meal the other night but I will be a very happy amateur Chinese cook if I can figure out how to replicate those beef and chicken dishes at home.

As Shan says we “eat like soldiers” when Dermot is with us, not prolonging our conversation or lingering past his bed time. As we left, sated and mouths on fire, I was still ogling the dishes being served up to other diners and planning what to eat on my next visit.

The total cost of our meal for four including beers and tea was 526 rmb or €63.

As a postscript, Shan was amused and bemused to discover that when I googled Yuxiang Kitchen to try and find their website, one of the first things to pop up is a photo of her and Shane that I took there on the night in July 2009 when they revealed to us she was pregnant with Dermot, such is the power of the internet to capture moments for posterity.

 

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