The North Has Arrived
Northern China, with its harsh, cold winters and hot summers, is known for wheat- and meat-based dishes from the regional cuisines of Beijing, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia.
Most ingredients are based on the region’s agricultural products, which are limited due to the cold and dry weather in the north. Wheat is the staple crop of Northern China, and the region has an abundance of wheat-flour products in the form of noodles, dumplings, steamed buns, stuffed buns, and pancakes.
Dumplings, in particular, are very popular in the north, served with vinegar and hot chili oil for dipping. In Inner Mongolia where there are large grasslands, their dishes feature beef, game and dairy products. Northeastern dishes are also famous for making use of pickled vegetables, influence by (North) Korean kimchi.
A strong flavor is very important for Northerners, who achieve this with salt and seasonings such as soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, scallions, ginger, leeks, star anise, sweet bean sauces, chili peppers, and sesame oil.
Even Mao Zedong, revered as China’s great helmsman and a native of Hunan province, loved spices in his food. “You can’t be a revolutionary if you don’t eat chili,” he once famously lectured a Soviet official.
“Northern Chinese dishes have stronger and more complex taste than those from the southern regions – a medley of sweet, salty, sour and spicy,” said Yang Chen Fei, chef de cuisine of Jing Ting, the newest foodie hotspot at City of Dreams Manila.
Chef Yang, who has more than 15 years of culinary experience with specialization in both traditional and modern Northern Chinese cuisine, trained under the famous Master Chef Cheng Hui, the chef of former Chinese President Hu Jintao.
He is particularly proud of producing hand-pulled noodles from scratch for Jing Ting, a skill which he began mastering since he was 19 years old.
“It takes about three months of daily training for one to be decent enough in producing hand-pulled noodles,” said Yang, who can swiftly prepare a bowl of hand-pulled noodles in only two minutes and create 600 dumplings in an hour.
Jing Ting is the third Chinese restaurant in City of Dreams, a quick and casual 92-seater in the luxury integrated resort, which also hosts the high-end Crystal Dragon and the Noodle8 dining outlet inside the casino.
Jing Ting, which means a little house or a resting place, was inspired by Northern Chinese hutong – narrow alleys dotted by small and traditional houses that are most prominent in Beijing.
Its expansive open show kitchen will enable diners to appreciate the preparation of hand-pulled noodles and freshly-crafted dishes a la minute, including the Genghis Khan roasted prime beef short ribs that are marinated for 12 hours (P1,380 for 800 grams); Xinjiang-style spicy lamb skewer with cumin spices (P768); cold shredded rice roll with spicy sesame sauce (P178); braised pork with homemade toasted burger (P268); sweet soy noodles with pork and assorted vegetables (P268), Beijing pork dumpling (P378 for eight pieces); poached pork and kimchi dumpling; mushroom vegetables and pork dumpling; and the chopped beef and celery dumpling.
“The flour and some of the spices that we use are all imported from Beijing,” said Chef Yang. “Our prices are very affordable but our portions are big enough to share.”
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