Yunnan Goat Cheese at South Silk Road

You normally don't think of "Chinese food" and "good cheese" in the same sentence. A fresh goat cheese called 乳饼 rǔbǐng, however, is one of the well-loved specialties of Yunnan cuisine. It comes from the Bai and Sani minorities of Yunnan province, and is made by heating fresh goat's milk with a souring agent until firm, then either pan-fried or steamed before serving.

You also don't normally think of eating cheese and sugar together, outside of cheese cake or manchego with quince paste. At South Silk Road in Qianhai, I recently had a dish of pan-fried goat cheese served with a side of sugar and another side of salt mixed with cracked black pepper. By itself, the cheese is already good, like a firmer, crispier paneer or even mozzerella. With the sugar and salt mixture on top, it was sublime. For a moment I wanted to plop it on sliced baguette and drizzle olive oil over it (sacriledge?). Then I realized how good it already was by itself, or with Yunnan ham and stir-fried greens.

South Silk Road is by no means the only restaurant that serves rūbīng, since it is as much a Yunnan restaurant staple as cross-the-bridge noodles. But if you're ever in the Houhai/Qianhai area, stop by S'Silk Road for the gorgeous lakeside views while dining. And to sample the best (okay, the only, but still delicious) cheese China has to offer.

South Silk Road 19 Lotus Lane, Shichahai, Houhai, Beijing 什刹海莲花巷甲19号