Beijing Hutong Dining

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The other night, I finally made my way to Black Sesame Kitchen for some delicious hutong dining. A quaint little spot turned into a tight modern setting for party of diners or Chinese cooking classes. The lady chef above is also known as Chairman Wang in Jen’s book.

I read Jen Lin Liu’s book over a year ago and fell in love with food writing which I do so little of these days and miss terribly much. It was fantastic to meet her in person to talk about her project and her trials and tribulations in China.



I was never a fan of spicy food, so Sichuan cuisine isn’t exactly my favourite. The good thing is that here, they tone it down to the foreign palate. My highlight was the candied fruits served with fresh homemade vanilla ice cream- unsweetened, that went down perfectly with the caramelised fried fruits. Instead of the usual practice of dipping the deep fried balls in cold water, I’d go with the ice cream option anyday!

whoever thought of the idea of putting a mirror on the ceiling to reflect the cooking progress is a genius.



  1. Deedles
    Oct 11, 2009 @ 05:58:53

    Jennifer is such an opportunist. Her “school” is almost a joke. She studied at the Chinese food school in 2005, and she’s supposed to impart all her wisdom on us? Additionally, her book is filled with contempt for China and the Chinese people. She really does think she’s above it all. I’ll never pay for an overpriced “lesson” from this so-called “expert.” A real lover of China and its food is Fuschia Dunlop who has spent decades in China learning directly from the “laobaixing.” She did it out of passion, not out of the quest to make a quick buck by writing a book and opening a “school” for wide-eyed tourists – and apparently people like you.


  2. baobabs
    Oct 11, 2009 @ 06:19:26

    Thanks for the comment. I feel like a wide-eyed tourist everyday and thoroughly enjoyed the communal dinner at Black Sesame. I’m not a fan of Chinese cooking classes, have never done one, neither do I intend to, so am in no position to comment.

    I have utmost admiration for Fuchsia Dunlop and am amazed at her in-depth knowledge.

    I think cooking classes aren’t so much about ‘imparting wisdom’ but rather the process of sharing—the whole aspect of cooking and eating in a communal sense.

    Shame you didn’t like the book (which could have done with better editing). The MSG factory story and quest for Shanghai’s best “16 folds” xiaolongbao were similarly engaging to Dunlop’s visits to Yue Bo’s restaurant and the whole chapter on knife techniques and innards eating.


  3. baobabs
    Oct 18, 2009 @ 01:28:15

    By the way Deedles, I will no longer entertain your comments as they always segway to your personal vendetta towards establishments and people in Beijing irrelevant to the content of my entries. Appreciate you stopping by, but don’t want my comment section to become a platform for your grievances. The internet is a free place, but this is my blog, so I’d like to keep discussions relevant. Thanks.


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