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Nine years after its founding, In &Out Lijiang Theme Restaurant at Sanlitun (一坐一忘丽江主题餐厅) seems to have become even better, if the long queues at dinnertime are any indication. The restaurant gets its Chinese name from the owners, a couple who loved to visit Lijiang, a famous tourist destination in Yunnan province.

The restaurant recently introduced some typical Yunnan cuisine, with an authentic taste. Cured pork rib hotpot (腊排骨火锅) is a famous specialty of Lijiang. The pork ribs are cured and dried, giving them a special flavor and texture. The hotpot comes with healthy side dishes of taro, yam, leek root, lettuce root and lotus root.

Lake wild cress (海菜花) is taken from Yunnan's lakes. Fried lightly with garlic, ginger and chili, it has a very fresh taste. If you can take spicy food, Shangri-La dried beef (香格里拉牛干巴) is a must and tastes like it has been soaked in chili sauce. For appetizers, hand-torn chicken slices with chili and lemon grass (手撕鸡) wins hands down. "Black three chops" (黑三剁), fried diced pork, chili and pickles, and grilled tilapia with lemon grass (香茅草烤罗非鱼) are two other popular choices. For soup, try their green melon with bamboo fungus soup (竹荪青瓜汤), a clear but refreshing creation.

The restaurant evokes the beauty of Yunnan - from the wait staff in beautiful ethnic costumes, to the dcor. If you dine with friends in a private room, you might even have singers from Yunnan belting out folk songs for you.

The average bill is 60 yuan per person. Menu in Chinese and English.

Daily 11 am-2 pm, 5 pm-10 pm. 1 Sanlitun Beixiaojie, Chaoyang district. 8454-0086 朝阳区三里屯北小街1号

(China Daily September 15, 2009)


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