Middle 8 Yunnan Classic: My favorite bucket of rice in Beijing!
Middle 8th 中八楼 is one of the first restaurants in Beijing that introduced me to the wonderful world of Yunnan cuisine.
In recent years, Beijing’s Yunnan restaurant scene has really taken off with popular Yunnan hot spots like Aimo Town, Dali Courtyard, In & Out, Yun Er Town and the new Lost Heaven in Ch’ien Men 23 and Southern Barbarian 南蛮子 on Baochao Hutong, making the competition for delicious Yunnan increasingly stiff in this foodie capital.
And while I prefer some of the above restaurant picks to satisfy my Yunnan cravings in the Gulou area, Middle 8th is still my go-to in the Sanlitun hood.
The original branch of Middle 8th (tucked down the hutong alleyway east of 3.3 Shopping Mall) has been around for ages and now Middle 8th has since expanded into multiple locations around the city and two branches in the Sanlitun area including its newest branch on the 4th floor of Sanlitun Village.
While I haven’t yet made a visit to the new Sanlitun Village branch (mainly because I’ve heard mixed reviews of this new location), I will always be a returning customer to their original location in Sanlitun. And it seems like every time I revisit this branch, I discover more favorite dishes I can’t seem to get enough of.
Before I dive into my recommended dishes at Middle 8, I must first direct your attention to their rice wine. If bars would start serving this goodness, I might actually go out to bars more often! The alcohol content is very low, but that’s a good thing because otherwise it would be dangerous.
Served in a tall bamboo pitcher, Middle 8′s rice wine is irresistibly delicious and a must-have to wash down Yunnan bites.
Rice Wine in a Bamboo Pitcher
LDS Snapshots of Middle 8′s Dishes:
Four Flavors of Marinated Bamboo Shoots (RMB 32)
A nice appetizer dish, I recommend these bamboo shoots marinated in four different ways. From spicy to sour, baby bamboo shoots soaks up the flavors for four very unique tastes that actually appealed to each of us differently. Of the four options, three of us each picked a different favorite.
Old Kunming Yam & Pork Ribs Soup with fresh corn, mushroom, bean curd skin, mustard green and yellow cabbage (RMB 39)
More like a veggie dish in soup rather than a soup dish with veggies, this is a great winter dish regardless. It’s light and healthy, but still quite filling as it is packed with good veggies and pork ribs. Big portion makes for great value at only RMB 39.
Jasmine Flower Omelet (RMB 28)
One of my must-order dishes on their giant menu, I love this uniquely Yunnan dish. Simple and elegant, it’s consistently a winner and a crowd-pleaser overall.
Yunnan House Slow Cooked Beef Tendon with Mushroom
Chinese women (like my mom) all go nuts for tendon as they believe that it’s good for your skin. I go nuts for beef tendon because I love the texture and I think it’s fun to slurp down. But this beef tendon dish from Middle 8 was a little spicy for my sensitive taste buds.
Sizzling Pot Cauliflower with Sliced Pork Belly (RMB 32)
We accidentally devoured half this dish before I remember to take a photo. Oops! I guess that goes to show how much I liked this new favorite Middle 8th dish! A mix of cauliflower and broccoli flavored with sliced pork belly, this dish is a winner.
Beef Vermicelli in Clay Cup (RMB 20)
Designed to be enjoyed individually, this spicy noodle dish is served in a mini clay cup. Be forewarned, it’s alive and kicking with spice and flavor!
Sweet Potato Rice Steamed in a Cork Bowl (RMB 5)
Considering it’s only RMB 5 and the fact that it’s written as a “cork bowl”, I expected to receive a small bowl of rice with some steamed sweet potato and was confused when we were served a massive bucket!! I almost sent the rice back thinking it was a mistake, but was delighted to discover that it was all for us! Of course who wouldn’t be pleased to get something that completely exceeds your expectations?!?
The portion was generous – more than plenty of rice to share between 3-4 and not only is there sweet potato, there’s also mushrooms and green peas inside the mix! Definitely better than a boring bowl of white rice, I’m going back to Middle 8th just for more of this Sweet Potato Rice!
This bucket of rice is bigger than my head
Review of Middle 8th 中八楼 Yunnan Restaurant: In the little alley street running east of 3.3 Shopping Mall, Sanlitun Zhongjie, Chaoyang District, 朝阳区三里屯中街中八楼; Tel: 6413 0629. Open Daily from 11AM-11PM
- Middle 8 is a consistent, quick and popular Yunnan restaurant with a great big menu with beautiful photos and bilingual dish descriptions making it easy to order.
- Try their rice wine, which comes served in a tall bamboo pitcher and is about as good as it gets.
- Loving their Sweet Potato Rice bucket for only RMB 5, which is insanely good value and I love the mushrooms inside for added flavour.
- Favorite dishes include Sizzling Pot Cauliflower and Jasmine Flower Omelet.
- They have a new branch on the 4th floor of Sanlitun Village (above Hatsune Restaurant).
- The design of the restaurant is probably the least appealing of all the different Middle 8th branches around town. In general though, the restaurant chain is just not as vibrant or cultural as Ai Mo Town 埃蒙小镇 or as impressive as Dali Courtyard – a restaurant that will “wow” you as soon as you step into their courtyard.
- Service is quick, but not very friendly and quite robotic. Everyone is quick to go through the motions, but there is no warmth or care invested in their customer service.
- Although prices are reasonable and food is consistent, I still prefer the more memorable and unique dining experiences I’ve enjoyed at Yun Er Town 云洱小镇, Dali Courtyard and Ai Mo Town 埃蒙小镇. That being said, I’ll still be a returning customer of Middle 8 as it’s the strongest Yunnan option in the Sanlitun neighborhood.
Rating: (on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being best)
Overall Experience: 6