Beijing Private Kitchen Dongsi Liutiao's Menu No. 40

The trend of organic produce has been steadily rising in China and the state leaders eat nothing but organic produce from farms all over the country.

40 Dongsi Liutiao brings to the laymen set menus of recipes that come from Master Cheng Ruming—the former chef of the late Mao. His grandson has taken over the reins and runs the kitchen exactly the way his grandfather did. The latter was the former executive chef of Zhongnanhai (the government seat) serving generations of Chinese state leaders.

I had the privilege of doing a tasting menu that cost ¥588/person (with a 3 day reservation in advance and a minimum of 20 people.) The meal was simple, but oh-so-beautifully presented in an artful manner and the pinnacle of Chinese knife art with the tofu that resembled a chrysanthemum. The dish is aptly named as “The chrysanthemum ginseng soup” that features a cube of tofu so delicately sliced with 108 strokes of the knife, that it resembles a chrysanthemum—or a live coral.

I made a video here because it’s a presentation beyond description.

The Art of Slicing Tofu – 108 Strokes of The Knife from Juliana Loh on Vimeo.

We started with what looked like a fusion cold seafood platter of prawn, mussel and Australian scallop.


The gourd in Chinese culture represents fertility and in this little cute dish, we found a deep fried king prawn accompanied by a glutinous rice cake, beautifully set under a bed of carrot and corgette shavings.



“Fragrant longevity” was a mushroom dish of truffles, matsutake and morels.

Now, one of the China’s most famous dishes as it was Mao’s favourite—hongshaorou (braised pork with caramelised sugar and star anaise—one variation of the recipe). The chef tells us that the actual recipe has no soy sauce and reveals that the reddish brown colour of the gravy is purely from the caramelised sugar.


By the time we got to these dishes, I forgot to keep track of their names and ended up chatting with the grandson of the former executive chef of Mao, bombarding him with questions.



Another one of Mao’s favourite dishes. A simple bowl of rice made of multiple grains giving a range of textures with a satisfactory crunch.

To sample the menu, make your reservations at least 3 days in advance.
Tel: (+8601) 6407-6889

Finally, to share. Here is my mother’s recipe of braised pork, which is absolutely delicious, not anywhere near the original recipe that Mao enjoyed. This one adds a Singaporean and I suspect Fujianese twist to it.

In Cantonese, we call this dish lou chee yoke

Pork belly (I’m terrible with portions, so visit the butcher for tips on how many you’re cooking for)
5 star anaise
1 tablespoon of sugar
thick black sauce
6-7 cloves of garlic
Meicai (梅菜), Mui Choi in Cantonese. I can’t find the English equivalent, see picture. (soak the preserved vegetable in water before dicing it up for cooking)

*There are two types of mei cai, salty or sweet. Buy the sweet one for this dish. In place of caramelised sugar, if you can find a sweet red date sauce, that can be used as a substitute.


Put 1 tablespoon of sugar into the dry pot, heat over a flame until the sugar melts
Then put in the pork slices and stir fry for 10-15mins
Put in the crushed garlic with peel still intact
Add star anaise and 1-2 tablespoon of black sauce and water to cover the pork, simmer until soft.
Add a cube of chicken stock as it simmers for another 30mins or so
Add in the sweet meicai.

Ready to serve.

This dish goes perfectly with a bowl of fluffy white rice.

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