Read my greasy lips: no price hikes for President Xi Jinping's favourite buns

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 January, 2014, 11:12am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 January, 2014, 1:33pm

Beijing’s deputy mayor has asked the low-end restaurant chain, which took the nation by steamy storm after President Xi Jinping's unexpected visit last December, not to mark up the price of its famed stuffed buns, a local newspaper reported.

The pricing of buns was among the top topics between an official meeting on Wednesday between the deputy mayor, Cheng Hong, and the general manager of the state-owned Hua Tian Group, which runs the nearly 60-year-old chain eatery. Cheng urged the manager to keep the quality and "reasonable price" of the chain’s steamed buns and pursue “steady development”, reported the Beijing Youth Daily.

The Qingfeng restaurant chain, which runs 183 branches in Beijing, has seen a sales surge of 35 per cent since Xi’s visit and received an overwhelming number of franchise requests from across the country, said the paper.

The manager, Zhu Yuling, pledged to Cheng that the chain would not raise its prices or compromise the quality of its food by yielding to heady business expansion. Zhu said the chain would be “ruining its own brand” if it “expanded blindly”.

Stuffing is key

The stuffing used in Qingfeng's buns is central to maintaining its quality, Zhu said. He assured the deputy mayor that the group would not open stores in other provinces without first setting up local distribution centres for steamed bun stuffing that was in line with the standards at the headquarters.

Xi and a small entourage arrived at the steamed bun restaurant without prior notice on December 28. He waited in line for his food and picked up his 21-yuan (HK$27) order himself as people scrambled to take pictures of him.

The food he ordered, steamed buns stuffed with pork and onion, a green vegetable dish and a stew with pork liver and intestines, has since become the chain's best-seller and known as the “Xi Jinping Combo”.

A staffer from the restaurant’s headquarters told the South China Morning Post on December 30 that the chain had no plan to add the combo to its set menu and the group had not yet approved any franchise requests from other provinces.