Breakfast of Champions; A Plate of “Guotie”

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The best tastes are always hidden in the corners. If you want to dine like a local, Qijiawan would be highly recommended. Once crowded with abbatoirs and cowhide makers; indeed even now, Nanjing locals still buy beef around this area, the traditional lane of Qijiawan features smoked beef, flat food, beef soup, beef fried buns, as well as speciality “Guotie” (more or less, pan-fried Chinese dumplings).

At the intersection of Qijiawan and Dadingxiang, Li Ji Restaurant takes up pride of place on the corner so you won’t miss it, no matter from which direction you come. From 5:30 am to 7:30 pm, Li Ji serves big portions of Guotie efficiently, thanks to a huge pan frying hundreds of Guotie at the same time. For the last 30 years or so, Li Ji has attracted residents and tourists to dine here. Before the rush hour is an especially good choice; they can be really busy as it is always local residents’ first choice for breakfast.

Beef Wonton and Guotie as a meal is the standard fare at Li Ji. Guotei with a beef filling, together with boiled beef tendon soup, served with spring onion and for which the skin is fired with rapeseed oil; crispy and chewy. On the other hand, the definitive Guotie should be golden in appearance, crescent-shaped, and crisp on the bottom with its stuffing in clusters. 

Li Ji’s recipe secret is hidden in the chefs’ practice of their special cooking skills and the ingredients; all beef selected carefully, tendons inside removed meticulously. Take a bite, and feel the flow of fresh beef in your mouth. No one can resist such a fragrance of fried food.

Such is Li Ji’s reputation that citizens as far away as other districts bother to travel from home just in order to fulfill their appetite. Wan Quan, a retiree who lives in Gulou District, said, “I woke up early this morning just to come and have Guotie here”. He claims that after trying Li Ji’s Guotie, he is no longer interested in other restaurants.

You will be surprised by its affordable price, ¥7.5 for five Guotie, ¥6.5 for Beef Wonton. With these prices, delicious tastes and the associated success, no wonder Li Ji now is establishing itself as a chain all over China. Here in Nanjing though, remains the original, ever wsince its opening 30 years ago. 

Forget about Laomendong, always swarmed with tourists and the prerequisite fakes and inflated prices; Qijiawan is the best choice for the authentic taste that attracts people from far away, just for a bite.

Li Ji Restaurant is located at 1 Dadingxiang 打钉巷1号. Tel 52257736

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Kristen Wang
A Nanjing local, Kristen studied Media and Public relations in Newcastle University (UK), has researched social media and online publishing and previously worked for different new media platforms. She is passionate about discovering new stories and helping expats involved in this city. 南京人Kristen毕业于纽卡斯尔大学,媒体与公共关系硕士学位。她的研究专注于社交媒体和网络发行,在不同的新媒体平台工作。她喜欢发现新鲜事,也希望帮助在南京的外国人融入这里的生活。