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Found my Beijing soul kitchen

When I travel to new places, I always try to find places to eat off the beaten path that are authentic. Simple, good food, unpretentious, I’m looking for a soul kitchen!

Well, we found one of those last evening. About a ten minute walk from our hotel down a side street, this place was packed, which is usually a good indication of excellent food and value. I’ll call it “Cafe of Chairman Mao.” A tiny place with seating for perhaps 20-25, this place had wonderful Sichuan dishes and many, many posters of the Chairman from his young days as a Communist guerilla leader in the late 1920s and 1930s while fighting the Kuomintang, through a photograph of him speaking at a rally during 1949, the year the People’s Republic of China was established, and then Cultural Revolution period of the late 1960s. They even has a gold-colored statue of Chairman Mao with his hand outstretched and smiling by the front counter. Anyhow, this place was it. Filled with locals, we ordered two litre bottles of Tsingtao beer, a deal at 4RMB each (US$0.50), and then started going through the menu. There was some confusion on our part at the beginning as our waitress brought two bottles and wanted us to choose from them for some reason. I think she wanted to know whether we wanted chilled or non-chilled beer, but we just smiled and indicated these were fine. No English in there, but lots of pictures in the menu and prices clearly marked. We chose a hotpot of what looked to be squid (RMB48/$US5.75), although with cartilage still attached we couldn’t actually verify what it was, but it was delicious nonetheless. Also two bowls of white rice (1RMB/US$0.12), and another Sichuan dish that was finely ground beef (RMB18/US$2.25), ginger, bamboo shoots, leek, and lots of 1cm pieces of hot peppers in both of these. Absolutely wonderful food, and a deal at 76RMB/US$9.50 for the both of us. We left a tip of 10RMB/US$1.25 and left completely happy with the experience.

We have one more meal in Beijing that is on our own for Wednesday’s dinner and I’ll try to get some other adventurous delegates to make a return trip with me, and will take photos this time!

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