The restaurants found in zhujingban, or the liaison offices set up by local governments in Beijing, are some of the best places to sample local cuisines.
The upside is that they're absolutely authentic. The downside is that the service is mediocre, and some don't offer English menus for foreign guests.
Anhui Tower's Chinese restaurant prepares "smelly mandarin fish", using a unique technique not found in any other regional cuisine.
Folklore holds that in the olden days, travelers from Anhui province's Jixi region would bring fish from their hometown to munch on while on the road. The fish were preserved with salt but still would emit a weak stench as the flesh rotted, creating a unique aroma and taste.
The fish at Anhui Tower's restaurant are air-shipped in daily from the province. The relationship between aroma and taste resembles that of stinky bean curd - a little smelly but very tasty.
"Model Worker's brown-braised pork" is another specialty the eatery offers.
The Model Worker brand name from Anhui is best known for its free-range pork. While the meat contains large chunks of fat, it isn't greasy. And it maintains the original pork taste.
Fried "wild fungus and frog" fuses two local Anhui specialties. Both are "mountain treasures" that are difficult to obtain because they must be foraged from the wilderness. The fungus is soft and smooth tasting, while the forest frogs are exceptionally tender.
Other dishes worth trying are smelly bean curd served with red chili sauce and dried bamboo shoots. Anhui food is usually salty and often cooked with strong-tasting sauces that imbue it with deep coloration.
Ham is a common ingredient in the province's specialties, because the area is known for producing some of the country's best.
Tea lovers should also try Anhui's green varieties, such as Houkui, Huangshan's furry tips and Liu'an Guapian. The restaurant has a public seating area on the first floor, and private rooms on the second and third.
11 am-2 pm, 5-10 pm. 1 Huixin Xijie, North 4th Ring Road, Chaoyang district. 6496-5588 ext 798