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Fan Shan Restaurant in Beijing

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Has anyone eaten at this restaurant in Beijing? I know it is touristy & pricey but from what I have read and seen it seems like a great experience. Do they have an a la carte menu or just the banquets?

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  1. I'm guessing you mean Fangshan restaurant in Beihai park.仿膳飯莊

    There aren't that many places that serve imperial style food. Fangshan is the main one - and the oldest - started by former palace chefs in the 1920's, or so i'm told.
    There's a new article on fangshan with its new prices
    http://www.btmbeijing.com/contents/en...
    but you can still eat there without breaking the bank.

    apparently there's also a chinese language website
    www.fangshan.cn but it's just in chinese.

    1. Jerome, thank you for the reference. I am sorry for the mistake, I do mean Fang Shan restaurant. I did receive a copy of their banquet style menus through Peninsula Palace ( 4 different menus ranging in price from 258 to 488 Yuan). However, there were 13 courses on each menu and not only is it too much for me, it had items I would not order normally ( nor would I enjoy). What I would like to find out is if one can eat there to experience the ambience and the setting and chose from an a la carte menu dishes that appeal to me.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Paulchili

        one can choose from an a la carte menu. But this isn't "chinese food" or any reasonable facsimile. The imperial kitchen is its own thing. The real Man-Han famous banquet is quite expensive now and all 108 dishes involve 6 seatings - 16 dishes in each seating today.
        The food may differ greatly from the chinese food most people know, even chinese people in china. there are also snack dishes available.
        consider as well, tingliguan in the yiheyuan summer palace. It also serves this kind of cuisine.

        For another rare cuisine in beijing, consider the old beijing hotel and ask about tanjia/tan family cuisine meals. I think they are the only place in the country that serves this kind of food.

      2. you seem very well informed about this topic - do you live in Beijing by any chance? I will be in China for 3 weeks and will have an opportunity to sample the more traditional chinese food in different regions ( chinese food happens to be my favorite food in the world). I thought Fang Shan or Tanjia/tan family would be a unique experience one can only have in Beijing. Thank you for the insight.

        1. No, I'm in los angeles and miss many things one can get in beijing.
          check out shaguoju for a kind of food that's real beijing, not even shandong influenced. Also, the street food is a bit different there.
          Ask around for where the good baozi type places are. Do a taste test of quanjude on qianmen vs bianyifang for two classic different styles of roast duck.
          kaorouji in the northern section of the city vs kaorouwan for mongol roast lamb (bbq) or hotpots.
          I don't know if cuihualou or fengzeyuan are still around, but for years they served classic shandong banquet fare, the closest classic cuisine for beijing.
          If you aren't going to Shanxi province (not xi'an's shaanxi, the datong/taiyuan province) ask around for a place that does shanxi style duck. it's different than the beijing style and quite good.

          Also, hard to find now i'm told, but two things that were quite good in beijing: 1. cherry brandy (yingtao bailandi) and 2. GuoFu3 (果脯), preserved fruits NOT like the southern saltysour style - sweet but not cloying, esp the apple, pear and melon.
          enjoy your trip.

          1. Thank you and I will follow your recommendations.

            1. I had it a few years ago. The food was okay and was very overpriced for Beijing. It might be worth it for the experience, but I didn't think the food was stellar nor worth the price.

              1. WHills - thanks for the post. Did you have a "banquet" menu dinner or a regular a la carte meal?

                1. I had the "banquet" menu...I think the most expensive one too. Not too good.

                  Make sure you got some Peking duck. Hard to find that dish made so well elsewhere.

                  1. I meant Peking duck at a good duck restaurant..not FS.

                    1. Thank you WHills; I got a copy of their banquet menus ( 4 different ones)- they did not appeal to me. I would only consider eating there for the "ambience" but only if I could order a la carte something I would be more likely to enjoy.

                      1. this is a general comment, certainly not a criticism of Paulchili, but "likely to enjoy"?
                        Imperial cuisine presents food with which most people are unfamiliar. Unpoetic in name, but beautiful in presentation. The dishes are designed to complement each other. I would strongly urge folks trying Fangshan or Tingliguan/聽鸝館 - 听鹂馆 listening to orioles pavilion in the Summer Palace.
                        http://www.china.org.cn/english/imper...

                        for a full discussion of what imperial cuisine means, including ming era, qing era, cixi in particular, brief definitions of regional cuisines, traditional philosophy and nutrition (mo-zi, confucius, etc), and a def of man-han banquets, china.org has other articles besides the above cited fangshan piece
                        http://www.china.org.cn/english/imper...
                        I think it's fun reading. However, I do urge anyone going to consider ordering outside the comfort zone. The dishes and tastes may be unfamiliar. They may not be immediate hits - after all, i remember watching the amazing race when contestants hit St Petersburg and had to eat a kilo of sturgeon caviar. I remember one girl heaving and sobbing that "it tastes like loogies." Unfamiliar? sure. But isn't that part of the adventure of trying something new?
                        I for one agree that the pea paste pastries aren't to my taste = not sweet enough--a bit more sugar and they'd be fine. But I'm happy I tried them and they looked great.

                        Anyway, I thank the OP for the topic which I find endlessly fascinating. The only thing that comes close to fangshan in its attempt at nostalgia and a glimpse into a closed world is the similar attempt in Istanbul at places like Hidiv Kasri to emulate Ottoman palace cooking.

                        Go to Fangshan or Tingliguan - bring some friends or make a party and have a good time.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Jerome

                          Thank you for the links, Jerome. Fascinating reading.

                          1. re: anli

                            If you are interested in recreating the Man-Han Banquet (and be sure to invite me), the bare minimum 108 required main dishes are listed in this article (in Chinese):

                            http://zhidao.baidu.com/question/2538...

                            1. re: Gary Soup

                              I think fangshan does the whole 108 in 6 seatings of 16 courses or eight seatings of 12 or something like that. But it is available.

                              for a price.

                              interesting - the page you posted says that the first Man-Han QuanXi was held in 1764 (qianlong jia-shen nian) with six seatings for 108 courses - but each course can have multiple components = they include over 100 tea snacks alone.

                              I didn't see the actual list on the page - maybe there's another page linked that has it. My Chinese is rusty, and (of course, when discussing chinese one says) very very poor.

                              I think this page (linked) has some of the stuff...
                              http://zhidao.baidu.com/question/1252...

                              1. re: Jerome

                                My Chinese is probably no better than yours (unless you want to hear me curse in Shanghainese) but the page seems to describe the six sets, and go on to detail the music played, the types of sweets served, and the specific "products" (品) for each. By rough count, there appeared to be about 108 "品" listed.

                                Coincidentlly, the current "Beijing This Month" has an article on Fangshan Restaurant:

                                http://www.btmbeijing.com/contents/en...

                        2. Jerome, thank you for your comments. I understand what you are saying and I agree with you up to a point. I am not a very adventurous eater ( my problem, I know) but I am the one who has to eat the food. I saw 4 different banquet menus from the restaurant. From each menu I would only like maybe 4 or 5 items ( at the most)out of 13. The most expensive ( and the most appealing) menu is $ 60/person. If I were staying in Beijing for a week or longer, I would try this restaurant for the "Beijing" experience, if not for food. However, I am there for only 4 days and I have a long list of restaurants that I know I will enjoy. That is how I have to make my choices. I do not take your comments as criticism or personally.

                          1. Paul: thanks. No one should have to eat anything they don't want to. If I had only one meal in beijing, i'd probably go to shaguoju, just because of its personal connections, then walk around dazhalan and grab a snack or see the food market off of wangfujing which wasn't there when I lived in beijing.

                            fangshan is like hidiv kasri - of historical interest and for a window onto a new world. I posted the links so in case anyone else does a search on chowhound, they can find the range of articles that can open a new understanding of a very cultivated and little-known side of chinese food. In LA we were lucky to have a little place that specialized in just the snack food of the fangshan style cuisine - a newer place, ludingji tries to do the same thing.

                            So please post about your culinary foray into beijing and what you liked and didn't.

                            1. Will do.