By Lina Zhu
Photos by Lijin Zhao
China Cafe II, located in East Iliff Plaza (Iliff and Buckley), serves authentic Chinese cuisine. The restaurant specializes in traditional Northern China dishes such as beef noodle soups, dumplings, and meat buns.
While China Cafe II offers your tradition- al Americanized Chinese food—sesame chicken, Mongolian beef, and chicken lo mein—it is their traditional Northern Chinese dishes that make them stand out among Chinese restaurants in Aurora.
The restaurant’s owner, who is original- ly from northeast China, was the previous owner of the popular Lucky China restau- rant on Havana Street. When she moved to her new location and opened China Cafe II, her focus was to serve traditional dishes from her hometown. Since Northern China experiences harsh, cold, and dry winters, as well as hot summers, consuming calories and salt is crucial. Northerners tend to go heavy with the salt and strong seasonings, compared with the South where chilies and pickles are more commonly used. Some of the signature dishes at China Cafe II include:
Bao Zi Bao Zi is considered a Chinese ‘con- venience’ food that is hearty, nutritious, and fulfilling. This portable snack or meal is the king of street food in Asia. China Cafe II offers several Bao Zi op- tions filled with meat or veggies. Eat it on the go and with your hands!
Beef Noodle Soup All of the components of beef noodle soup are important—the soup, the meat, the noodles—and any bonus add-ons.
At China Cafe II, the soup is red braised, which means the soup base was braised in soy sauce for hours before serving. The soup is seasoned with five spices, extra star anise, loads of ginger, and fermented bean sauce. The noodles are cooked a lit- tle more than al dente, accounting for the noodles continuing to soften in the hot broth. Tender chunks of beef enhance the chewy noodles and savory soup.
China Cafe II’s signature beef soups are Spicy Beef Noodle ($12.99), Tomato Juice Beef Noodle ($12.99), and Braised Beef Noodles ($12.99).
Meat Buns Meat Buns, also known as Roujiamo, are street food originating from the cuisine of the Shaanxi Province and widely consumed all over China. The meat is most commonly pork, stewed for hours in a soup containing over 20 spices and seasonings. Since this dish is very traditional, you don’t often find it in Chinese restaurants in the U.S., so it is a special treat offered at China Cafe II. The Pork in Baked Bun comes with two pieces ($9.99)!
Dumplings Jiaozi is a type of Chinese dump- ling, commonly eaten in China and other parts of East Asia. Jiaozi typically consists of ground meat and/ or vegetable fillings wrapped into a thinly rolled piece of dough, which is then sealed by pressing the edges together.
China Cafe II offers steamed and fried dumplings with a variety of fillings including pork with napa cabbage, chives shrimp with pork, beef with radish, pickled napa with pork, and so on.