Baoyuan Jiaozi Wu is a charming place for groups of any size to eat cheaply. Located behind the Great Wall Sheraton Hotel and Hard Rock Café on Maizidian Jie, it’s an unassuming venue that seats both foreigners and locals alike. Cheerful wait staff, sometimes creatively coiffed, come and go along a stone path bordered by a faux garden and over bridges that lead to two rustic dining rooms (there’s another one on the street entrance).
Dumplings (jiaozi) here are boiled (shuijiao) and made in a shape that refers to its etymology – ‘jiao’, meaning ‘horn’. Filling up on this northern staple at Baoyuan Jiaozi Wu promises flavours and textures you won’t find at most corner jiaozi shops.
One menu features plump jiaozi (6-11RMB) and an assortment of cold dishes. A plate of crisp Chinese broccoli jielan; (12RMB) stir-fried with almond-like apricot kernels opens the appetite. As little as 6RMB gets you six jiaozi filled with pork and cabbage. If the mouth could host a party, it might invite the zi bai pi ou xian jiaozi (8RMB), stuffed with lotus root, cucumber, cilantro and pork (with an option to add corn). Another guest for such a party would be the purple jiaozi filled with cabbage, bean sprouts, crispy rice and pork (8RMB) – a crunchy favourite. Baoyuan Jiaozi Wu also lets vegetarians in on the fun, with a selection of meat-free options.
Diners can customise their jiaozi by choosing wrappers in hues and tie-dye-style blends of orange, purple, green or white. The all-natural dyes are made from carrots, tomatoes, purple cabbage and spinach. Dumplings come six per order – while the restaurant strongly recommends ordering two portions of each variety, it doesn’t make it a requirement like most other dumpling houses.
A second menu offers traditional dishes that are options for a larger meal and not necessarily such a bargain. The point of this place is the jiaozi, hence the restaurant name. Baoyuan Jiaozi Wu gives Beijing jiaozi a twist, stuffing them with many flavourful medleys, warranting multiple returns to try them all. These inventive dumplings satisfy big appetites for small change.