Gourmet Trips

The Chairman’s Baozi

Hands up if you’d ever heard of the Qingfeng Baozi chain before December 2013? Probably not many of you – but ever since Xi Jinping got peckish one December morning while in traffic on the Second Ring, the fortune of this humble baozi franchise has changed dramatically.

庆丰包子铺 Qingfeng Steamed Stuffed Bun Store was a Chinese state-owned steamed bun store that was little known outside of Beijing. Its food was not outstanding, but because it was state-owned, it provided generations of Beijingers a breakfast choice that was hearty and cheap. Fast forward to Dec 2013, after the fateful morning after receiving the Chinese President, it has since been privatised with injection of funds from Fosun International, the Chinese owner of Club Med, and two other investment parties, paving the way for a listing.

Evidence that he was actually seen in the wild (Screen capture from news on CGTN)

In China, unannounced visits by top politicians are extremely rare. In a display of his humility and closeness to the people, this visit would be seen as the precursor to an anti-corruption movement that swiftly brought down many top officials.

These days, Qingfeng is just like any other fast food chain. The only difference is because of the association with the President, the prices have not moved along much with the times. Not sure if this was a smart investment by Fosun.

黄金蒸饺 Golden Steamed Dumpling

I did not order what the President did. Instead I ordered a basket of steamed dumplings with minced pork and leek filling. For a mere ¥20, you get 16 pieces of the dumplings. You can taste that they were machine made dumpling skins, as each one was of equal thickness. You have to eat them hot, else the skin becomes chewy.

老北京炸酱面 Beijing-style Zhajiangmian

Zhajiangmian 炸酱面 is a Beijing street food that consisted of boiled noodles removed of water, and topped with juliennes of beet, cucumber, carrot, with a generous serving of zhajiang consisted of minced meat, ferment black bean sauce and sweet sauce. I loved this noodles, and it is difficult to get it wrong.

老北京炒肝 Pig liver and offal stew

This was the same as what President Xi had that day, the traditional Beijing street food called luzhu 卤煮 (“braised stew”). It consists of pig’s offals and liver cooked in a thickened stew with a strong, garlicky taste. You either love it or hate it. This was not the best specimen I had, there were better ones elsewhere in the city.

羊肉串 Lamb skewers at ¥5 each

And I rounded up the meal with Xinjiang-style grilled lamb skewers, at ¥5 each!! Although they were grilled using an electric grill, they were well-seasoned with cumins and spices with even mix of fats and lean meat. Delicious.

精品猪肉大葱包 Steamed bun with pork and leeks

As I could not finish all the food I ordered, I shared some of them with the single diner at the same table. She in turn gave me one of here 精品猪肉大葱包 Steamed bun with pork and leeks, which came three in an order. This was the same bun that President Xi ordered. It was not nice, more skin than filling. And at ¥6 for three, you can understand why so.

The Chairman’s combination for ¥21 (around USD 3) (Photo credit: SCMP). Due to inflation these days, this combination is now ¥34.

They used to promote the Chairman’s set 主席套餐. These days, it was sold as another name. It was not known if he finished everything on the tray.

Visited May 2023

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