The Chatt ering Room [sic]

31 Jan

The Chatt ering Room is down one of the multitude of alleyways in the Old City of Lijiang – blink and you’ll miss it. Outside, baskets of mushrooms, greens and buckets of live fish line the alleyway.

Inside is a small courtyard rather than a room, with three or four tables surrounded by hanging dried carcasses, firewood and several mangy cats waiting for handouts.  The small and ramshackle kitchen’s packed with food and spices and outside whole chickens are being cleavered for the pot – it’s not exactly comfort city but it’s the food we’ve come for and we aren’t disappointed.

Once inside our fellow diners inform us that the chef/owner/head waitress is quite selective regarding whom she serves and turns away those she doesn’t like the look of … luckily we made the grade! They also inform us this little eatery is quite famous, so apparently we’ve chosen well.

Our first meal is a simple but very tasty stir-fried fungus dish comprising four or so different types of mushrooms, lots of garlic, green pepper and a hint of ginger. The mushrooms are pure heaven … some crunchy, some silky and smooth, others melting in the mouth.

We’re so impressed with this little treasure of a place that we return for a second meal for lunch the next day, this time ordering a plate of greens and a shredded beef dish, both delicious. The purple-stemmed greens (we’re not quite sure what they are – even our fellow Chinese diners don’t know) are lightly fried with chilli and garlic, with just the right amount of crunch. The beef dish is a little over-salted and stir fried with diced celery and red chillies.

We wish our appetites could accommodate the beautiful looking steaming hot pots and whole cooked fish that the other tables wolf down!

We were equally impressed with the price. Each dish is around 15rmb, with the small hot pots costing around 60rmb.

Anyone coming to Lijiang should definitely give this gem a go – it’s a welcome relief from the more up-market and expensive restaurants touting their wares throughout the Old City each night.

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