The Capital of Chinese Cooking?

2016.Oct.21 Friday · 4 comments

in Restaurants


Long, long time readers, locals, and expats will likely remember the restaurant Shi Yuan, located right by the Biblioteca Nacional here in Recoleta. It was certainly the most elegant of Chinese restaurants in town, and for a long while, one of my top five in terms of food. We always enjoyed it, though among some of my regular readers it seemed to be hit and miss. I stood by my assessment and it was a place we ate at roughly once a month, for almost eight years. Roughly two years ago, they closed up shop and were replaced by one of those steam line mixed Chinese/Argentine pay by the weight of your food places.

I’d heard rumors that the chef from Shi Yuan had moved to a new spot in Palermo (and, it turns out, looking back at the comments on the followup to the review, one of my readers even told me about it). Somehow or other, I just hadn’t made it to Beijing, El Salvador 5702, until last month. Indeed, it turns out – same chef, and several of the same staff who came along with him. Apparently it actually opened before Shi Yuan closed down (different owners, here, the chef is actually one of them), which might explain why during my last few visits to the place I didn’t know any of them, and why some folk found that the food had gone downhill towards the end. The new place is even more elegant. The menu has been paired down – it includes many of the best dishes from the previous spot, but has eliminated most of the ones that seemed to be there just to cater to lowest common denominator expectations. We’ve been a couple of times now.


I was delighted to see that one of my favorite cold appetizers is still on the menu, and as good as ever – a dried, pressed tofu dressed in a soy marinade and tossed with cilantro.


Great potstickers – easily some of the best in the city – and better than they used to be!



Mixed feelings at this point on the steamed dumplings, which several people have lauded them for. They are delicious, no question, but they’re also inconsistent. On the first visit, they were small, and a bit thick and chewy. On the second visit, they were plump, juicy, and delicate. Just based on the photos, I’d say that they didn’t have the real steamed dumplings available that first visit and they used some of the smaller, thicker dough potsticker ones and just steamed them.


An absolutely delicious lemon chicken. One note though on the menu is that they say it’s a grilled chicken breast with the lemon sauce, and we were looking forward to a variation on the more classic fried – but we weren’t disappointed to find it fried, either.


Quite good kung pao chicken – for us they could have gone spicier, but with a dish of fiery chili oil provided on request, we took care of that immediately.


A tasty, though overwhelming in size, eggplant yu xiang,  a spicy, sweet, sticky braised eggplant dish that’s typically made with a fair amount of ground pork in it, here just a very small amount of ground beef – we’d have preferred a little more, and probably the pork. It was just too much eggplant as a single main course – it’d make a great share dish for a table of four or more. We managed about half of it.

So, overall…. Love the room. Great service. Very good food. Pricing is high, but really not bad – it ran us about 15-20% more than our typical neighborhood take-out/delivery places, but the quality and quantity certainly makes up for that. (Figure on main courses running between 150-200 pesos.) Several thumbs up, and going on my list of favorite Chinese places in town!


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Javier October 21, 2016 at 20:51

Great place. They actually offer some kind of dim sum for big groups. You just need to let them now with some anticipation. The secret is to say you’ll have “authentic Chinese cuisine”. That should do the trick 😉

dan October 22, 2016 at 09:31

Cool, good to know. Previous they only place still around that had dim sum that I knew of was Hong Kong Style in Barrio Chino. A shame though that it’s just for big groups – though I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to ask for a smaller group…!

dan December 24, 2017 at 19:15

Javier – turns out it’s not just for large groups, though it was too late for us on today’s return visit. We noticed that quite a few tables, all of Chinese folk, had dim sum and various dishes that weren’t ones we’d seen on the menu. So flagged down our waiter and asked, and he tells us – “oh, there’s a complete other menu for Chinese people, of more traditional food.” We asked to see it (unfortunately by this point, we’d already ordered and started receiving our food), and there it is (and the menu isn’t just in Chinese, it’s also translated into Spanish, but it’s roughly double the “regular” menu in length). We decided to order one additional plate…

My personal fave, spicy Szechuan peppercorn chicken. Unfortunately, this is probably the only dish I’ve not been overly fond of at Beijing over several visits. The flavors are fine, and plenty of spice, but it’s fried to the point of being crunchy chicharrón-like bits of chicken – virtually no moisture left in the dish.

It didn’t stop us from finishing it off, but it was more like eating spicy popcorn than anything else.

From the regular menu, we’d already tried a dish of ma po tofu – a pretty good rendition of it too.

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