[This particular branch of Shun Yi Fu is now closed. However, there is a branch nearby in the APM shopping centre, which I reviewed in July 2012.]
Chinese dumplings or jiaozi are quintessential Beijing fare and a must-eat on any visit to the capital. There are loads of places to try dumplings and I followed the recommendation in Beijing Eats of Shun Yi Fu - its located on Ganyu Hutong (just off Wangfujing nearby St Joseph's Church).
It's a bit smarter than a 'hole in the wall' but it's still more of a caff than a restaurant. The diners were a mix of locals and curious visitors who like me probably wanted a respite from Peking Duck and fine dining. There is a comprehensive bilingual menu offering both boiled dumplings (jiaozi) or pan-fried dumplings (jianjiao) as well as a selection of cold side dishes too. Being a novice blogger, I didn't think about taking a photo of the menu until I was back at the hotel - sorry !
First up were potato slivers (RMB 6), a salad consisting of potato slivers, green peppers and dried chillis tossed in a sesame oil based dressing. This dish was clean and refreshing and went well with the beer but to be honest, it got a bit samey after a while and I wouldn't have minded sharing it. The guy on the adjacent table ordered a salad of celery and bean curd skin which also looked interesting.
I didn't have to wait long for my order of pork & scallion dumplings (RMB 26) which I asked for to be pan-fried (jianjiao). No complaints about portion size as 15 dumplings were served up - what is it about the North of any country, the portions are always larger !
You're provided with a dipping dish and there are bottles of vinegar and chilli oil on each table. Being a traditionalist, I went with a vinegar dip which cut through some of the greasiness of the jianjiao. I'm not sure what to say about the dumplings other than pork & scallion is a classic combo and that they were very tasty.
I must confess that I hit the wall by about the 12th or 13th dumpling but I managed to polish them off in the end. With hindsight, the boiled dumplings (jiaozi) would have been a better (and less greasy) option when dining alone.
Verdict: You will eat dumplings in Beijing and Shun Yi Fu is the place to eat them.
Other Stuff: If you're in a group, order a mix of jiaozi and jianjiao, remembering to stagger the order so the dumplings don't get cold and claggy. If you want to know more about Chinese dumplings, check out World Foodie Guide - her guide will answer any questions you might have.