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Sep 12, 2010 07:10 AM

Beijing Homestyle in Manayunk

We have been curious about this place since it opened seeing a sign in the window that they make hand-drawn noodles. No reviews from the papers, no online reviews made me suspicious that it might not be so good as it has been open for almost a year now. We tried it for lunch the other day.
The food is excellent everything was made to order, so it took some extra time for the food to come out, but it was well worth it when it did. We started with soup dumplings that were good, not a contender for best soup dumplings in Philly, but still delicious. The fried stuffed eggplant appetizer was the best I have ever had. They were flat eggplant cakes with a pork and ginger filling inside, fried so that they were light and crispy and golden brown. I am definitely going back for more of those.
The hand drawn noodles came with a black bean sauce, pork and cabbage that you mixed in a bowl at the table. The sauce was beautiful, rich, a tad bit sweet but not overly so, with a black bean aroma. The noodles were great.
Salt baked pork with cilantro was very good. They did not have any Chinese greens on the menu, but they did have them if you asked. They had a choice of two. We had a greent that was like baby bok choi in it's thickness and juicyness but it was a little bitter (which I love). It was made perfectly, bright green in color sauteed dry with garlic.
I had iced green tea with my lunch that was fresh brewed and wonderful.
This place is a BYOB
The prices are a little high. It is a beautiful dining room, they are going for a higher end dining experience. The food is very high quality and delicious, so I dont mind paying a little extra. It is definitely a place I could take my in-laws for a nice meal out.

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  1. I went here today! I never even knew it was there. It was delicious! I had the dumplings also, and I agree they were good, not the best in the world, but everything else was outstanding. I had pork and the string bean appetizer was amazing! A definite go back to spot!

    1. thanks for the update! sounds good. will have to tell the gf.

      1. where is this place located? sounds wonderful!

        1 Reply
        1. re: pie22

          Its on Main Street in Manayunk near La Colombe

          Main Street Cafe
          126 E Main St, Elkton, MD 21921

        2. just saw the menu @

          idk, looks iffy...definitely missing some old school beijing eats

          1. I went there today with my wife and teenage daughter. Though not specified anywhere the lunch specials were not offered on a Saturday. That was no big deal. 12:30 on a 72F. sunny weekend, it was deserted when we arrived.

            We ordered the scallion pancake as a sharing app (reminiscent of the Thousand Layer Bread at Rangoon) and also the pot stickers (but asked for them steamed, instead of fried.) We were probably being a little too health-conscious. The dumplings were water-logged, and so masked the flavor of the gingery ground pork. Also the squirt of hot water in your mouth when you bight into a dumpling is not particularly pleasant.

            My daughter is the least adventuresome of the trio, and ordered pan-fried thin noodles with chicken. It was an somewhat interesting dish, with a curiously seasoned brown gravy over the usual bamboo shoots, mushrooms,carrots and onion. Perhaps a hint of five-spice powder.

            I ordered the Mao's Pork belly with a little trepidation, as pork belly can sometimes be pretty fatty. It was not, but as advertised, it was pork in a sweet sauce with peppers (bell and dried hot.) Not a bad dish, and enough to share. You would definitely want to order dome kind of veggie dish along with it though.

            What killed the meal for us was my wife's dish, double-cooked pork. When it arrived, we were wondering if the waiter had brought the wrong dish. Was that tofu ?? Maybe eggplant ?? The shiny, flabby squares certainly did not look like any kind of pork we had experienced prior. Upon close inspection, there were tiny ribbons of meat along the edges of SOME of the squares. Sure enough, they were pork. The lion's share of the slices were PURE FAT.

            Though it took a long time to get the waiter's attention (as it did later to get our check, despite the fact only one couple arrived during our meal) when we asked if this was normal, he assured us that this was the way they make it.

            Now I realize this is touted as authentic Beijing cuisine, and maybe it is. But when you also have Wonton Soup and Sweet and Sour Chicken on your menu, I think it might be nice to apprise an obvious Western family if a standard dish like "Twice Cooked Pork" varies THAT widely when prepared to authentic Beijing standards.

            The waiter asked if he should take it off the bill. We though they should take it off the freakin' MENU, but said yes, only because it was inedible. It was like lightly sauteed fatback.

            Maybe it was a purely unlucky choice, but IMO, unless you are specifically known for REALLY off-the-wall authenticity, it should be the waiter's duty to inform an unsuspecting diner if a dish may potentially be unappealing to even above-average tastes.

            11 Replies
            1. re: phillyjazz

              "The dumplings were water-logged, and so masked the flavor of the gingery ground pork. Also the squirt of hot water in your mouth when you bight into a dumpling is not particularly pleasant."

              this sounds like soup dumplings - where making them water-logged is the whole trick. the wrappers are water-tight but steam-permeable, and when they're steamed to cook them, it makes a broth inside the dumpling. you do have to be careful about how you eat them, though - i imagine that just putting the whole thing in your mouth at once would be less than pleasant.

              1. re: Bob Loblaw

                They were actually pot-stickers. Soup dumplings were listed separately on the menu, I suspect I should have just had them fried.

                1. re: phillyjazz

                  Pot stickers are not made to be steamed or boiled. They should have recommended something else to you if you didn't want a pan fried dumpling. But really, you're only saving a handful a calories, if any, by foregoing the pan fry.

                  1. re: barryg

                    and Beijing Homestyle has 4-5 boiled/steamed dumplings on the menu as well.

              2. re: phillyjazz

                Twice Cooked (a famous Sichuan dish actually) is served with bacon, fatty bacon at that.

                "I think it might be nice to apprise an obvious Western family if a standard dish like "Twice Cooked Pork" varies THAT widely when prepared to authentic Beijing standards."

                I am little confused by this statement. What should the restaurant staff have informed you of prior to ordering this dish?

                1. re: scoopG


                  He MIGHT have said something like .. "Unlike the relatively lean pork belly in your husband's dish, the Twice Cooked pork contains glistening slabs of flaccid fat, nearly devoid of ANY muscle tissue, and consequently unlike anything you have probably been served in your life. Recognizing from your obvious Western features and blonde hair that you are probably not a native of Beijing, I might perhaps suggest another dish that might be more familiar to your American palate."

                  That would have been appropriate IMO.

                  1. re: phillyjazz

                    You are asking for too much then - asking far too much for any restaurant staff. As mentioned, Twice Cooked Pork is a Sichuan dish, not of Beijing. A famous Sichuan dish at that. Pork Belly is not lean and bacon is pork belly - just cut a different way.

                    1. re: scoopG

                      OK.. I will bow to your vastly superior knowledge of regional Chinese cuisine. But whether this dish is native to Beijing or Sichuan is immaterial as to my expectations of waitstaff. I am well aware of what pork belly is. I ordered it at the same meal, and it was VASTLY different than that served in the Twice-Cooked Pork dish. We have had this dish numerous times prior, at Sichuan restaurants in many cities and granted, may have been served dumbed-down Americanized versions,

                      My point is that I don't think it is unreasonable to expect waitstaff to recommend against an order if a dish is prepared in a way outside the norm. Especially, when we ordered our pot stickers steams as opposed to fried because they are healthier that way. Is it unreasonable to expect the waiter to make the cognitive leap that a dish comprised mostly of a quarter pound or so of saturated pork fat might be unappealing to someone who expresses a desire to eat "healthy?"

                      Maybe some diners' expectations are just higher than others....

                      1. re: phillyjazz

                        I am trying to understand if the dish was not prepared properly or if you just plain don't like Twice Cooked Pork. Seems the latter.

                        Here's a photo of the classic preparation with wide ribbons of fat:

                        Mao’s Braised Pork Belly is supposed to have plenty of fat as well:

                        1. re: scoopG


                          There were no "wide ribbons" of fat. There was ONLY fat. There was no meat to be separated from the fat.

                          No, probably we DON'T like classically prepared Twice Cooked Pork. That is actually irrelevant to the point I am trying to make.

                          I merely suggest that waitstaff make customers aware of any "eccentricities" to a given dish a customer may order, particularly if it is an ethnic specialty. As I said, we made it clear that we preferred healthy preparations. This is not complicated English. I have had waiters before suggest to me that tripe was "chewy." After I replied that I knew that and was OK with it I was served.

                          I'm sorry, but I don't really wish to pursue this conversation any further. Have a nice day.

                          1. re: phillyjazz

                            Nowhere in your OP did you write that you made it clear to the wait staff that you preferred "healthy preparations." How on earth can waitstaff anywhere in the world make customers "aware of any eccentricities" - that any particular diner or dish might have?