Manchurian class act

Updated: 2012-08-20 10:37

By Pauline D. Loh (China Daily)

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In spite of the modesty of the name, Najia Xiaoguan, or the Little Restaurant by the Na Family, is anything but. It is more like the home of a comfortably but not ostentatiously rich aristocratic family from two centuries back. Eating out is all about an experience, and if you are looking for taste, novelty and ambience, this is the place for you. From the talking mynahs hung above the reception at the foyer to the private dining rooms upstairs and along the long corridors, Najia Xiaoguan is all about atmosphere. Manchurian food is not exactly common, not even in Beijing where the Qing rulers had lorded it for more than 600 years. But it is an interesting browse through the menu. Little lamb shanks are called Bell Handles, and come with little brass bells attached. If you ask nicely, they let you bring those home. But apart from all the standard classics from duck to donkey, don't forget to order the soft succulent braised whole ox hoof. And bring back the bone in a doggy bag. There are a few branches in Beijing, but I like the one next to the 798 Arts Zone best.

2 Jiuxianqiao Beilu (Just off the 798 Arts Zone), 010-5978-9333.

- Pauline D. Loh