17:35, August 28, 2008
The Duyichu Restaurant was initially built in the third year (1738) of the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644¨C1911). But at that time, the humble restaurant established by Wang Ruifu, a man from Shanxi Province, had no official name. It was marked only by a cluster of gourds hanging by its door, its sign. The name Duyichu was granted by Emperor Qianlong, and a signboard signed by the emperor remains well-preserved in the restaurant.
Duyichu Restaurant's reputation might be undeserved in contemporary times were it not for its high-quality cuisine and its snacks that have been famed for hundreds of years. Its main products are shaomai (a kind of steamed dumplings), malian meat (pork braised with malian grass), deep-fried-triangle steamed buns and other cuisines of Shandong and Beijing.
Almost every customer that arrives at Duyichu Restaurant expects to dine on shaomai, and when it's placed on the table, people usually admire its attractive, lotus-flower shaped morsels. It's amazing that a little snack like this can carry a restaurant through thick and thin for hundreds of years. But that's how special Duyichu's shaomai is, a snack that requires 16 discrete processes all completely by hand. Meticulous preparation is found in every step of the process, from the making of dough with boiling water, the mixture of the stuffing, the rolling of the dough sheet and even the wrapping procedure. Watching the preparations, you just want to reach out and bite into them, and when you finally do eat them their taste is irresistible. But there's also great variation in the snacks, with the dumpling's fillings changing with the seasons. There are at least 30 different tastes to sample.