Customers line up to get food at Yaoji Chaogan in Dongcheng district on Sunday. Photo: Wang Zi/GT
A small restaurant near the Drum Tower in Beijing has had a massive upswing in business, ever since US Vice President Joe Biden popped in for steamed stuffed buns and Beijing noodles Thursday.
The restaurant on Gulou Dongdajie, Yaoji Chaogan, became famous after the US Embassy posted photos online of the vice presidential visit, showing Biden eating with newly-arrived US ambassador Gary Locke, the first Chinese-American to be appointed to the position.
on Sunday afternoon, the restaurant, famous locally for its stewed liver, was packed with around 150 customers, another 40 lining up outside at 3:30 pm.
"Usually there aren't so many people at this time, and you can get a table quickly. But customers began to gather all day long after Biden's visit," said Lu, a 76-year-old regular customer who lives nearby.
As well as the photos, the US embassy posted details of the menu on its Sina Weibo account, which included Beijing specialty zhajiang mian (noodles with soybean paste), baozi (steamed stuffed buns), cucumber, Chinese yam with sauce, shredded potatoes, and coke. The meal cost 79 yuan ($12) for five. Biden paid 100 yuan and left the rest as a tip. The meal has since been a trending topic on Weibo, referred to as the "Vice President's Meal."
"I decided to come after watching the news on TV, since I thought it was cool to eat at the same place as the US Vice President," said Li Qiang, from Jinan, Shandong Province, who just arrived in Beijing Saturday.
"He's a fan of President Obama actually, not Biden," said Li's friend, a Beijinger surnamed Tao. "But Biden will do just as well," Li said, "He seems fine and friendly."
"There were some young people who asked for the ‘Vice President's Meal', just for fun," said Yaoji Chaogan's deputy manager who refused to give her name.
"We want to keep a low profile and don't want to take the visit as a chance to promote ourselves," she said. The restaurant will not introduce a "President's Meal" to attract customers and media, she said, but they did open a microblog on Sohu.com three days ago.
Shandong tourist Li Qiang felt the food did not live up to his expectations, though.
"I came hoping the food served must be special but it isn't," he said.