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  Beijing Scene

Uncle Khang Fishing Village
Regional Chinese cuisine is a treat for the palate
and easy on your wallet

Five thousand years of culinary history, 365 types of dishes, 100 percent passion. Thus reads the banner as you walk into the lively Uncle Khang Fishing Village restaurant. From the outside there's little to distinguish it from other eateries crowding the university district road. But once inside, the food and ambience sets Uncle Khang above and beyond its neighbors.

The menu provides a diverse and unique selection of dishes from Beijing, Hunan, Canton and Sichuan. The restaurant is open 24 hours, ideal for those late night snack attacks.

Decor consists of the inevitable Chinese kitsch: a disco ball, posters of busty German barmaids, and a three-dimensional relief of the Egyptian Sphinx reminiscent of an elementary school art project. One wall is covered with portraits, including those of the big three of modern Chinese history: Sun Yat-sen, Mao Zedong and Lei Feng. Below each picture is a famous quote in English. Sun Yat-sen's reads: "For the People, Of the People, By the People." Beneath Mao's smiling face are the words "Serve the People Wholeheartedly." And Lei Feng's bears a Chinglish version of his well-known motto: "A lifetime of good deeds is harder than just doing one." The Qing dynasty Empress Dowager Cixi and the last Qing emperor Pu Yi are also on display.

Uncle Khang's waitstaff are eager to explain why these five characters from Chinese history were chosen to grace the walls. The Last Emperor and the Empress Dowager represent the ancient feudal society in China. Sun Yat-sen put an end to feudalism and laid the foundations for Communism, hence the picture of Mao Zedong. As for Lei Feng, "Well, he's just the best!" exclaims one altruistic waiter.

Our dishes arrive within minutes. Japanese-Style Tofu (hong shao ri ben do fu) comes first, followed by Fragrant Fried Pork Ribs (xiang jian pai gu). While this tofu dish is standard fare on many Beijing menus, Uncle Khang's version is extremely tasty and the tofu is fresh and generous in portion. The ribs were tender, juicy and slightly sweet.

Many Chinese restaurants serve up raw and greasy potato dishes. However, Uncle Khang outdoes himself with Super Beautiful-Style French Fries (chao mei shi shu tiao) a dish that not only looks spectacular, but tastes splendid as well. An impressive mound of crispy shredded potatoes shaped like a haystack is quickly devoured.

A must-try are the Small Sweet Potato Pies (xiao bao su he) small mince pie look-alikes filled with mashed sweet potato. Uncle Khang's King Fish (kang lao ba wang yu) is presented to us in a large steaming bowl covered with chilis. The fish is tender and full of flavor with just a hint of spice. Mao's Favorite Braised Pork (mao shi hong shao rou) is another hit, as is the Ham and Lily Root dish (jin tui bai he).

Although there is no English-language menu, there are photos of the more popular dishes and the waitstaff can help you order. A new chef will start at the end of the month, and the new menu is expected to include xiaochi (snacks).

Khang's is inexpensive, the service is excellent, and the ambience invites wiling away several happy hours here with friends.

Uncle Khang Fishing Village Restaurant
22 Baishiqiao Road, Haidian District
Opposite the north entrance of the New Century Hotel
Tel: 6832-5688, 6832-5788

Food:*** Ambience: *** Service: **** Cost: $

*= yuck! *= good ***= very good ****= excellent
$ = RMB40 per person

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