Yaoji Chaogan (姚記炒肝) is a popular eatery in Beijing located near the drum tower. “Chaogan” is a local snack food which literally means “fried liver” and the one from Yaoji is thought to be one of the best in Beijing. Yaoji Chaogan has been around for more than 30 years and even Joe Biden, the Vice President of the United States ate here too. Amusingly, Mr Biden did not eat the signature fried liver dish and went for the black bean paste noodles instead!
So this is the famous fried liver dish!
I don’t really know why the dish is called “fried liver” because it looks nothing like a fried dish. The cooking method is unusual because liver in Chinese cuisine is most commonly cooked in soup, porridge and stir fries.
The “fried liver” chunks are bathed in thick soy sauce gravy and heavily seasoned with chopped garlic. The liver is soft and the starchy gravy forms a film around the liver giving it a slippery texture. The taste was good but the only thing I didn’t like was the strong offal smell.
Yaoji Chaogan also serves lots of local Beijing food. The one in the picture is the “luzhu huoshao” (爐煮火燒 RMB 17) , which is a bean paste stew with bean curd puffs, intestines and round bits of wheaten cakes (also known as “huoshao”). The “huoshao” tastes quite similar to a slightly harder version of the Chinese bun “mantou”. I liked the dish a lot because all the ingredients soak up the soupy bean paste and as you munch on them, the sweetness just bursts into your mouth.
The cucumber salad was full of surprises (RMB 8 ). It was sweeter than expected and at first glance you might notice that it is very artistically placed, almost like a flower. The secret to that is, the slices are not completely sliced through and remain loosely attached to each other. So that makes it quite easy to do a nice display! Just simply twirl the cucumber and a beautiful piece of food art is formed.
This dish here is called “zha song rou” (炸松肉RMB12), or deep fried minced meat wrapped in bean-curd sheet. It’s also a dish that you will find in a lot of halal restaurants in Beijing. The bean curd sheets are fried till golden while the minced meat within remained tender.
The fried glutinous rice (煎灌腸 RMB6) is another local Beijing favorite that you will find on the streets. Somehow, I just don’t find the dish that appeasing though. I am not sure what the “traditional” taste is supposed to be but I thought it was rather oily and tasteless.
The interior of the store.
I am not a big fan of offals so the famed fried liver wasn’t my favorite dish; instead it was the “luzhu huoshao” that was my favorite. But Yaoji Chaogan is ranked as Beijing’s top 10 local snacks so if you love innards, Yaoji Chaogan would be an interesting place to visit and try their “fried liver”.
Getting there: Gulou Dajie MRT Station (near the drum tower)