One of my favourite comfort-food restaurants in Beijing used to be Lau Pa Sak (RIP). Located opposite the Canadian embassy, it was unceremoniously demolished and refurbished last year. It moved to a new location in Sanlitun SOHO, but doesn’t seem to have survived the traumatic event. I went through a period of mourning and then noticed that a Beijing roast duck restaurant had taken it’s place. I love a good roast duck restaurant so was skeptical but hopeful. I rounded up a few foodies who were keen to try the new Sanlitun duck spot and we all knew that Chinese food is always better when you can order a feast! With low expectations going in, we braved ourselves for the worst.
First impressions of Sheng Yong Xing Roast Duck Restaurant were pretty jarring. This restaurant is very tastefully designed. Light and airy, it is a beautiful space with greenery dispersed throughout the space and a balance of grey bricks, wood and smart Chinese touches. I’m a big fan of their glowing screen lanterns hanging over each of the larger round tables and strategic use of screens as space dividers, giving private tables a sense of intimacy without being in separate rooms. The duck ovens are located on the second floor and you can go gawk to your hearts content. The chefs were patient and dealt with our intrusions with aplomb.
Sitting down at the table, we inspected the menu and began the ordering process. It is a process because the menu is gigantic. Beginning with their specialty dishes highlighted at the front before moving into cold starters, mains, and starchy staples at the back. The menu has the classics, but also a bunch of unexpected dishes like giant prawns with black truffle, roast duck topped with caviar and even some Australian wagyu beef. Some fancy pantsy dishes aside, we found comfort in the menu’s dishes that were more familiar and all for great value. The only one glaring Chinglish example: “Fried Enema”. #Chortle
Anyway, we ordered to our heart’s content and it came out thick and fast. Whoever is in the kitchen is on top of their team!
Sanlitun Branch of Sheng Yong Xing Roast Duck Restaurant on the Southeast Corner of Xindong lu and Dongzhimen Wai
1st Floor Bar & Waiting Reception
1st Floor Dining Area
Duck Roasting Ovens on the 2nd Floor
Chardonnay from Warwick Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa (RMB 180 per bottle)
With this being peak summer humidity, we were quick to order a round of cold beers. But after glancing through their wine list (for the sake of the blog), I was amazed to find a wine listed from a vineyard I’ve been to before! Considering I’ve really only ever visited vineyards in Napa Valley, California and Stellenbosch, South Africa, I was pretty stoked to see something from Warwick Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. It was a Chardonnay listed for RMB 180 per bottle, which was refreshing and robust and did me proud for ordering a bottle that everyone enjoyed!
With white wine in hand, the feasting began and the dishes came out so quickly that our table was flooded with dishes almost instantaneously. And not only do they have a highly efficient kitchen, the dishes were getting praises left and right. Presentation was thoughtful and tasteful, dishes were full of flavor and it was clear that the ingredients were quality.
Our only qualms were during the ordering process when we had a couple of issues where one or two staff didn’t seem to register when white people were speaking Chinese to them and we were mildly disappointed that they couldn’t stretch to cook egg fried rice instead of the other two (more complex) fried rice dishes already listed on the menu. Nowhere’s perfect.
LDS Snapshot of Sheng Yong Xing’s Dishes:
Vinegar Soaked Peanuts (RMB 19)
A classic starter, this was the first dish to be served (as expected), but what was not expected was this portion size. There were enough peanuts to last us a week! We even considered asking the staff to give us the rest of the peanuts to take-away after our dinner. Seriously, this was the most generous portion of peanuts I have ever seen.
Tofu Toon Sprouts (RMB 32)
Beautifully presented, this tofu dish won over the hearts of everyone at the table. Even people who are anti-tofu gave this one a try and admitted that they might like tofu! Game changer.
Mixed Wild Black Fungus (RMB 25)
Simple and classic using very high quality black fungus and the baby limes were an interesting twist on a traditional starter dish.
Hutong Radish (RMB 26)
Also a very generous portion, this probably could have been sliced smaller for easier eating.
Lamb on a Grill (RMB 78)
This dish was listed as “Baylor Barbacue” but it’s basically the classic 葱爆羊肉 dish of sliced lamb and leek. Normally it is served on a hot plate, but this presentation is a notch up. Perched up on its on little grill table, this dish was a winner and was polished off as quickly as it came!
Fried Okra (RMB 38)
From okra to pea sprouts and organic cauliflower, the vegetable dishes here were all very well executed. I think sometimes the quality can drop off in this area as some restaurants view it as a side dish. Not as important and worthy of attention as the duck or the other centrepieces. Here though, no such issues!
Fried Pea Sprouts (RMB 58)
Fried Organic Cauliflower (RMB 28)
Table-side Carved Roast Duck
The duck was solid. Not particularly more amazing or memorable than roast duck in other establishments, but the presentation was on point and the addition of the garlic condiment made it for me. Every duck restaurant would benefit with a bit of garlic sauce to accompany and complement the sweet hoisin sauce.
Roast Duck Seasonings: Spring Onions, Garlic Sauce, Hoisin Sauce, Sugar and Sliced Cucumbers (RMB 5 per set)
Fried Pork with Hangzhou Chili 小炒肉
Might not be for everyone, but I’m a big fan of fatty bits. Not only is this where a lot of the flavor comes from, I love the texture and this dish had a nice balance of fatty and meaty!
Beijing Zhajiangmian 炸酱面 (RMB 18)
Again, a very generous portion and a classic Beijing dish! It’s a wonder more duck places don’t also serve Zhajiangmian. Seeing both of these “must try” Beijing dishes on the same menu makes Shenyongxiang a new go-to for out-of-towners!
Fried Rice with Pickled Cabbage and Beef (RMB 38)
As our table was already flooded with other dishes, they took our large order of fried rice and split it up into smaller portions to give to each individual. So the photo above is just a snap of my bowl.
Glutinous Rice Rolls with Sweet Bean Flavor (RMB 12)
A classic 老Beijing dessert! Served in baby portions, this was a very cute serving of 5 small rolls served on a small dish. I think it was just a lucky coincidence that we were a table of five foodies!
Aiwowo Dessert (RMB 12)
This was a little less exciting than the “Donkey Roll” desserts as this was also a sticky rice dessert, but without the sweet bean paste. Normally it should have bits of hawthorn and walnuts inside, but these seemed to just be filled with a bit of sugar. What was missing in flavor, they made up for in cuteness.
Yoghurt Mousse with Hawthorn Sauce (RMB 16)
The grand finale! We ordered 3 portions to be shared between five and quickly realized that we should have ordered one each. By the time we tried to add a couple more orders, the staff said the kitchen was already closed (just before 22:00). The hawthorn yogurt cream dessert is a must. Light and fluffy cream with a sweet and sour tinge from the berries, it is gorgeous and a nice finish to a lovely meal.
All in all though, pretty mind blowing! Extremely well priced, decent service and all done in a very tasteful setting, Sheng Yong Xing has given me hope that this represents the evolution of the Chinese restaurant in Beijing. Previously you had the choice between over the top and gaudy Da Dong, or the lovely but flawed smaller restaurants like Li Qun or Jing Zun. Sheng Yong Xing is tasty, clean and convenient. What’s not to like?
The total cost per person for our meal including two bottles of wine was RMB 211 per person which is incredible value compared to Da Dong, and not much more expensive than Jing Zun which looks tired by comparison now. I’ve just found my new go-to duck spot and I’m stoked it’s literally next to where I live. While you may not have heard of Sheng Yong Xing before, note that they’ve already got rave reviews on Dianping and they’re pretty rammed. Unless you go with a reservation at 18:00, then your best luck is to turn up after 20:30 (like we did) and you’ll most likely be seated within 10-15 minutes.
Sheng Yong Xing 晟永兴 Roast Duck Restaurant:
- Address: Southeast corner of Xindong lu and Dongzhimen (across from the Canadian Embassy), Xindong Lu #5, Chaoyang District
- Chinese Address: 朝阳区新东路甲5号楼
- Tel: 010 6464 0968
- Tel: 010 5986 2586
- Tel: 010 8461 9221
Kristen Lum has an accomplished background in PR, communications and events in China. Born and raised in California, Kristen has been based in Beijing since 2006 and is founder of the lifestyle blog called LumDimSum, covering mostly restaurant news and reviews alongside upcoming events around town that relate to Beijing’s muti-faceted, quickly-developing creative industries like art, music, film, health and fitness, fashion, nightlife, charity events, and travel tips.