We were very well fed at this Yunnanese set menu restaurant, choosing the cheapest of the 3 options at 128 RMB per person, for 12 dishes. Our meal would be a very expensive and fancy degustation menu in a western city. Our 12 dishes were:
Three soups, one based on a potato puree and two in lovely rich chicken broth;
Two mixed grain rice dishes, one barbecued in a banana leaf;
Clams in a very spicy sauce;
White slices perhaps of tofu(?) in a sesame seed and soy dressing;
Prawns in a light tangy tomato sauce;
Barbecued fish, crispy on the outside, white and succulent inside accompanied with a garlicky pouring sauce;
Spinach, stir fried with garlic, very tender and tasty;
Dessert - a pot each of soft quark like yoghurt on top of a delicately sweet syrup to fold through.
Yunnanese dishes embrace a range of flavours from light and fresh to rich and spicy, and the cuisine is distinct from other Chinese cuisines. The staff spoke no English, but the menu was in English. There is no listing of individual dishes, you pick one of the three set-menu prices and the dishes just come. This hutong is overlooked by the horizontal bands of white neon that illuminate the almost egg shaped multi-story 2012 SOHO building next to Chaoyangmen subway. There are rennovations underway at Dianke Dianial, suggesting that they don’t expect their hutong to be razed any time soon.