“Mala” Crayfish is the signature dish on “Ghost Street” (Gui Jie 簋街) in Beijing. Almost every restaurant that we pass by is selling this delicacy! Some of the restaurants even have three or branches on the same street. We picked Zai Zai restaurant (簋街仔仔) because there is at least 8 branches of them along the street so I thought they gotta be good right?
We were not disappointed !! The Sichuan “mala” (numbing & spicy) crayfish is a vibrant dish, heavily seasoned with bright chili and peppercorns and it comes in a big tray, the kind of tray that you would use to roast turkeys. The crayfish ranges from RMB 2 – RMB 12 per piece depending on the size. Minimum order is 10 pieces.
The crayfish resembles the lobster in terms of texture and in Chinese, crayfish is actually called “little lobster” (小龍蝦). The spicy little lobsters are tantalizing and the numbing effect is simply thrilling!
Gary is totally loving the dish! Thoughtful plastic gloves are provided so you don’t get the soupy chili sauce all over your hands.
We ate EVERYTHING. Nothing was left except for the chili.
The fried chives & shrimps (RMB 38) is absolutely fantastic! Chives in Chinese cuisine is usually more of a “side-kick” in a dish because the strong flavor can be too overwhelming. But when it is used in abundance with the shrimps, the crisp-shelled shrimps and the aromatic chives with a hint of chili is a perfect combination.
Restaurant Zai Zai’ is loaded with people. Be there early to avoid waiting though waiting seems to be customary because there are chairs for you to sit and watermelon seeds for you to snack on if you had to wait.
Zai Zai has an impressive Sichuan menu with too many items to choose from and we had too little space to stomach! We didn’t order as many dishes as we would have liked to because we were saving space for our very last Pecking duck at Hua’s Restaurant nearby – so that sort of adds up to two mini dinners on our very last night in Beijing 🙂
Getting there: Ghost Street can be reached via two MRT stations – Beixinqiao (北新橋) and Dongzhimen (東直門) Station. Beixinqiao station will bring you right onto Ghost Street whereas you will need to walk a 200 m if you get off at Dongzhimen Station. There are many Restaurant Zai Zai along the street and you won’t miss it.