I've finally found good Cantonese food in Beijing. Lei Garden Restaurant has several branches in Hong Kong, as well as Macau, Singapore and Guangzhou.
There are two locations in Beijing and the one on Jinbao Street is very convenient to get to, just around the corner from The Regent hotel.
Located on the third floor of Jinbao Tower, Lei Garden has an elegant setting, and immediately transports diners to Hong Kong, with Cantonese spoken at almost every table, while the majority of wait staff speak Mandarin.
When I made a reservation for dinner on Saturday night, I was asked if I wanted to preorder the long-simmering soup for 118RMB. Surprised by the question, I agreed and was not disappointed.
Apparently it's one of the best-selling dishes on the menu and the slightly dark soup was full of flavour, and we were each given two bowls to drink.
We also ordered barbecue pork that was tender, sweet and lean, while we also ate a small plate of roasted pork, the crunchy, golden brown skin with a layer of fat and then some tender meat.
There was also tofu, reconstituted with a mixture of vegetables and meats before being lightly fried which was a dream, and a plate of vermicelli stirfried with golden chives and bean sprouts. The soup-based pea shoots were also delicious and light, and the Chinese sausage rice was the ideal combination of flavour from the fatty sausages with a touch of soy, and dried bits of rice for texture.
The salt-baked chicken was already sold out, so we also ordered spareribs that were lightly deep-fried in a batter, which tasted great, but a bit too much fat content.
Dessert was an innovative touch -- double-boiled ginger milk with beaten eggwhites placed on top and baked.
I also came here for dim sum today and sampled a few dishes, including the steamed shrimp dumplings with crunchy shrimp with bamboo shoots, xiaolong bao, though they weren't quite as good as the ones at Din Tai Fung, two steamed dumplings that had practically transparent skins, and steamed rice rolls that were delicate and delicious.
Service is very good on the whole -- each of the staff somehow motivated to serve their customers well. A well managed operation that deserves kudos also for the delectable food.
Now I know where to go for my Cantonese fix...
Lei Garden Restaurant
3/F Jinbao Tower
No. 89 Jinbao Street