RESTAURANT DEALS, HIDDEN GEMS, AND OTHER EDIBLES
the dining Hall of Fame MEET THE INAUGURAL CLASS
A Publication of
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What’s Happening: The most important dates this month Stat: China imported thousands of metric tons of American nuts Dining Hall of Fame: Introduction to the induction process Best of the Blog: The most popular stories from theBeijinger.com Scene & Heard: Go on, take a look at yourselves, you beautiful people
The spotlight falls once again upon the inductees to the inaugural class of the Beijinger Dining Hall of Fame. They include Annie Lee; Ignace Lecleir; Rich Akers; Avi Shabtai; and Alan Wong. Venues include Annie’s; Da Dong; Hatsune; and The Tree
Food & Drink
Out with the Old: Make these restaurants your 2016 dining agenda Comfort and Joy: A month-by-month guide to Chinese festival foods Outliers: Escape your downtown comfort zone and try these great outlying restaurants Veg Out: Beijing’s best vegetarian restaurants and dishes Too Legit to Equip...Your Kitchen: Get the right gear for your cooking needs Someone’s in the Kitchen: Our favorite cookbooks for Chinese and Asian cooking ProvGov: Hebei Provincial Government Restaurant Wokipedia: P is for ... paocai, persimmon, pidan, pineapple bun Getting Your Tastebuds out of Beijing: China’s western and southern regional cuisines Bubbling Over: Global hotpot options Hutong Hawkers: The fading food trade of Beijing’s vagabond salesmen The Tune of Your Food: Picking the right music for your dining experience On The Wine: Beijing’s Best Wine Lists Weekday Restaurant Deals: Where to get the most for your kuai from Monday to Friday Quit Your Belly-Aching: Dr. Eddie Cheung on how to avoid stomach bugs Art of War: Championship MMA comes to Beijing
MINISTRY OF culture
Morgan Short joins as our backpage columnist, and looks at fine dining -- from a convenience store.
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more of the best of beijing on thebeijinger. com 3
Cover photograph of Ignace Lecleir. Photo by Uni.
RESTAURANT DEALS, HIDDEN GEMS, AND OTHER EDIBLES
THE DINING HALL OF FAME MEET THE INAUGURAL CLASS
The most important dates this month
WHAT’S HAPPENING jan 3
Adam Lambert With the vocal chops to not only build a successful solo career after his stint on American Idol, but also fill the gigantic shoes left by Freddie Mercury in Queen, Adam brings his captivating live show to the Beijing Exhibition Theater.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens As we all know it takes months and in some cases years for Hollywood blockbusters to make their way to our cinemas. Better late than never as we get ready to celebrate the critically-acclaimed reboot of this fantastic franchise.
Bottega Kitchen Takeover at Jing-A The latest restaurant to take over the kitchen at Jing-A is Neapolitan pizza favorite Bottega, who will be serving up their deep-fried calzone, paired with Jing-A’s fine brews. Invigorate yourself with this tasty carb combo.
Beijing International School Exhibition The biggest gathering of Beijing’s international school community in one place, with 65 schools registered, to maximize your interaction with teachers, administrators, and parents.
Visit theBeijinger.com for even more events and details.
Letter from THE Editor
ur January issue is a departure from our earlier approach to this fine publication. Although we have done issues that focused largely on a particular topic, never have we given an entire edition over to a single subject, in this case, the initial members of the Beijinger’s Dining Hall of Fame, chosen in March 2015, and profiled here as we move towards the 2016 Beijinger Reader Restaurant Awards. Our inductees represent a broad range of venues in the Beijing restaurant scene. Many of our readers will be surprised that Annie Lee, proprietor of pizza powerhouse Annie’s, is a real person, and that the name isn’t simply a marketing ploy, like McDonald’s. Annie had so much to tell us that we’ll be publishing the full version of our interview online. Ignace Lecleir talked to us about going casual as TRB expanded to both TRB Bites and TRB Copper in 2015. Avi Shabtai discussed how he turned a small bakery into the Beijinger readers’ favorite Middle Eastern restaurant. Alan Wong shared a couple of secrets of his and Hatsune’s success. And Rich Akers is still a marketing ninja. Elsewhere in the magazine, Kipp Whittaker shows us where to buy everything needed to make a home kitchen (almost) as good as the restaurants our Hall of Fame is honoring. He also looks at some of Beijing’s finest wine lists and where to find them. Tom Arnstein talks with members of a vanishing group of people, Beijing street hawkers, most still plying their trade by bicycle throughout the city’s hutongs. Margaux Schreurs gives us a weekly roadmap to food deals and discounts to keep us fed for less, and also guides us through some of the best regional culinary offerings in town. And finally, we are pleased to welcome Morgan Short as our new back page columnist, who gives us his very own take on fine dining – at the convenience store. This issue is also sees us move into a more occasional publication schedule than the previous, regular monthly editions. It’s simple: our readers want more information online, so that’s where we’re heading. Visit our blog at www.beijinger.com/blog, for seven or more daily updates on weekdays, including breaking news, the latest reviews, and other information you need to enjoy life in Beijing to the fullest. We hope you enjoy the January issue of the Beijinger. Happy New Year to all of our readers!
Steven Schwankert Executive Editor
CITY SCENE STAT // CHINABUZZ // BEST OF THE BLOG // SCENE & HEARD
the United States to China. China also imported 17,000 kiloliters of wine. Why all the imports? “The main driver: China’s rapid switch to a US-style meat-rich diet,” Mother Jones writes. But where’s the beef? US beef is still banned in China, following a 2003 mad cow scare, giving Australian cattle ranchers a boost. Source: Mother Jones Magazine/US Department of Agriculture
umber of metric tons of walnuts and almonds, each, sold to China by US farmers in 2013. China’s “appetite for nuts shows no sign of abating,” according to a May 2014 report in Mother Jones on prospects for American agribusiness here. In addition to munching on many people’s body weight in walnuts and almonds, the US also sold about 10,000 metric tons of pistachios, which are grown almost entirely in the US or Iran. There was also 160,000 metric tons of pork, 25 million tons of soy, and five million tons of corn exported from
introducing the beijinger dining hall of fame
n this issueâ€™s cover feature, we introduce the inaugural group of members in the Beijinger Dining Hall of Fame were selected in March, 2015. They were chosen in live balloting that took place at the awards ceremony for the 2015 Beijinger Reader Restaurant Awards. Those enshrined were chosen from a list of venues and people that have been active for at least seven years in Beijing. That means the candidates must have been active in the Beijing food scene from before March 1, 2008. Four venues and five individuals were elected to the newly-created Hall on the basis of being named on 50 percent or more of the ballots submitted by their peers in attendance. Voting was restricted to the senior staff (owners, head chefs or operations managers) of the restaurants that won 2015 Beijinger Reader Restaurant Awards. At the ceremony, eligible voters were given the opportunity to choose up to 25 venues from a list of 53 and up to 15 personalities from a list of 31. 2015 was the first year the Beijinger held a Hall of Fame vote, and weâ€™ll continue the tradition again in 2016, when the date of eligibility moves to March 1, 2009. Unelected venues and people from the 2015 ballot will remain on next yearâ€™s ballot, provided they received more than five percent of the vote. They will remain on the ballot for three successive years before being removed from future consideration. Nominations and balloting for the 2016 Beijinger Reader Restaurant Awards will begin in January. Voting for the 2016 class of the Beijinger Dining Hall of Fame will take place at the awards ceremony on March 7, at an invitation-only event. Meet our first group of Beijinger Dining Hall of Fame personalities and venues beginning on page 12.
best of the blog Every month we tally the hits from thebeijinger.com and bring you the most viewed blogs from our website.
1. It’s Official: Here Are Your 2016 Holiday Dates Workers of the world unite! The official version of China’s 2016 public holiday calendar was released on Dec 10 and it contains mercifully few weekend working days. What’s also notable is we now can officially declare 2015’s out-of-the-blue WWII victory celebrations a one-off, as there is nothing marking the anniversary in the 2016 calendar. Then again, it was marked this year either. The official holidays are January 1-3, New Year’s Day; February 7-13, Spring Festival; April 2-4, Qing Ming/Tomb Sweeping Festival; May 1-2, Labor Day; June 9-11, Duan Wu/Dragon Boat Festival; September 15-17, Mid-Autumn Festival; and October 1-7, National Day. Make-up workdays are February 6, February 14, June 12, September 18, and October 8-9.
2. Property Struggles Shutter Tim’s Texas Bar-B-Q and The Den Beijing expats are reeling from the abruptly announced closure of The Den and Tim’s Texas Bar-B-Q, longtime stalwarts of Western fare. The entire building will be destroyed by Chinese New Year at the latest. Government laws prohibit commercial businesses from operating on People’s Liberation Army real estate. Apparently regulations of this kind have long been ignored, but are now being enforced, and more are expected.
3. Beijing Gets ‘The Onion’ Treatment Over Air Pollution The Onion posted to its Facebook page on December 9 an image of Beijing’s CBD surrounded by a transparent block, with the caption, “Beijing Air Solidifies.” Beijing’s pollution has been the subject of Onion ribbing before. On October 26 of this year, it published a photo of firefighters shooting water onto flames under the headline, “Beijing Fire Department Extinguishes Massive Five-Alarm Burning Cloud Of Smog.” For these stories and more, check out theBeijinger.com/blog
photos: the beijinger, steven schwankert, the onion, margaux schreurs, live.dbw.cn, bjnews.com.cn
4. Safety Reminder: Reports of Sanlunche Driver Assaulting Single Females in Gulou Some terrible stories came out of Gulou’s 206 complex, a building that houses both Temple Bar and Dada. A male sanlunche driver allegedly assaulted numerous women, grabbing one by the throat and licking another’s face on their way home from a night out. Take extra precautions to be safe when taking a sanlunche (or any form of transport) alone.
5. Beijing Issues First Ever Red Alert Over Air: Odds/Evens on Cars; Most Schools Shut For the first time since new stringent air quality control measures were instituted in March of this year, Beijing has declared a Red Alert, immediately calling for odds/ evens traffic restrictions, closures of factories and construction sites, and the shuttering of most schools. Under standards set in March of this year, a Red Alert is declared when the air quality is forecast to be over AQI 200 for three days or more.
best of the blog
6. Subway Update: Line 14 Expands to Beijing South Railway, OffPeak Fares on Tap The next step in the master plan is the expansion of Line 14, which will now run all the way from the northernmost Shangezhuang down the east side of the city before cutting west to the Beijing South Railway Station. The extension is planned to be operative by December 28. This gives anyone lucky enough to live along Line 14 a direct ride to the hub that services high speed trains to Shanghai.
SCENE & HEARD
La Chaine des Rotisseurs annual gala dinner at NUO Hotel Beijing on Nov 28 Photos courtesy of La Chaine des Rotisseurs
Shuangjing Showdown at Tiger King MMA Gym on Dec 5 Photos courtesy of Shuangjing Showdown
SCENE & HEARD
The Hutong Christmas Fayre on Dec 12 Photos courtesy of The Hutong
Transit Fifth Anniversary Party at Transit/Cicada Ultralounge on Dec 12 Photos courtesy of Transit
Beijing’s pizza queen dispels myths about her name and her delivery service By Steven Schwankert
photo of Wang Ke by uni; others courtesy of the participants photo courtesy of annie's
nnie Lee is not only a real person; she is a ball of energy. While she describes herself as someone who doesn’t like to talk, she barely stopped to breathe during our two-hour interview with a person that many in Beijing who have eaten at one of her nine restaurants didn’t know actually existed. Annie and her namesake restaurant are very much one, but they were not always. Her initial foray into food and beverage was not a pizza restaurant, but a café opened in 1996, on the south side of Gongti Beilu, across from what is now Taikoo Li South, in a strip of long demolished venues that also included the first outlet of supermarket chain Jenny Lou’s. Despite significant foot traffic, Annie’s second-floor café wasn’t doing well. One day, she asked a customer, a German writer who came regularly and nursed a single cup of coffee for most of the day, why she wasn’t getting more business. “No one can remember your place,” he said. “You need a name that people can find easily and remember easily.” Soon afterwards, as the writer was leaving one day, he handed her a piece of paper with five English letters on it. “Your name should be Annie,” she recalled, and suggested that she name the venue with her newly christened moniker. She did both. In 1999, following the first outlet’s closure, Annie opened in Chaoyang Park West, at a store that continues to operate today. But there was a problem: just after to opening, water leaked into the restaurant from above and caused significant damage, causing her to close after just a short time. “I had 20 employees with nothing to do. So you know what we did? Delivery.” The restaurant chain’s reputation for quality and swift delivery has helped Annie’s win Best Delivery at the Beijinger Reader Restaurant Awards in 2014 and 2015, and has been a key factor in both its popularity and its success, to the point where
some have wondered if pizzas are actually baking on the back of the delivery bikes. “No, no,” Annie laughed. “It’s simple: we prioritize delivery orders. If a delivery customer and a customer in the store order at the same time, we make the one for delivery first. With delivery, if a customer is unhappy, it’s easy to find where the problem occurred, but hard to solve it and make that person happy. I can look at the ticket and ask, ‘was the order not made promptly? Did it not go out quickly? Did we get the address wrong, or did the bike break down?’” One of Annie’s (the restaurant) other great strengths has been its service to families and children. Again, Annie sees that as a happy accident. “When I first opened Annie’s in 1999, my son was about six. I couldn’t be at home to take care of him and I couldn’t leave him there, so he spent hours with me in the restaurant. One day he was watching the chef, and he said, ‘Mom, I want to make pizza too.’ At first I said no, but then I asked one of the chefs to give him a little bit of dough, a bit of cheese, and some sauce. He took such care to make it, and we baked it, and he was so proud! I took his photo with that pizza, and that photo still hangs in the Chaoyang Park West store,” Annie said. “Now, we let all of the children who come to the restaurant make their own, too.” Other family-friendly ideas also came from her personal experience. “I gave my son paper and crayons to draw, he spent many hours, and he got really good at it. Now he’s studying fine art in Canada,” she said. Needless to say, younger visitors to Annie’s may not only draw there now, but can have their works displayed on Annie’s wall, or even in her newly-published book, Artists of Annie’s. Annie said that she has no particular plans for 2016, except to continue doing what Annie’s is good at: providing a good customer experience at a reasonable price. We’ll buy that.
Ignace Lecleir After years of fine dining, TRB’s boss gives casual a try By Steven Schwankert
t’s almost strange to see Ignace Lecleir not wearing a suit. When he greets me on a cold December morning in front of Temple Restaurant Beijing (TRB), he is sporting a jacket, shirt with no tie, and dark blue jeans. All clean and impeccable, of course, but not necessarily the Ignace that any regular patron of first Maison Boulud and now TRB is accustomed to seeing. In eight years in Beijing, Ignace’s attention to detail and focus on service and training, in addition to serving some of the city’s finest food, has contributed greatly to raising the standards for all of those things in the local restaurant scene. His outward appearance, however, seemingly clashes a bit with his restaurant philosophy. “Good hospitality is very spontaneous. Trying to keep things natural is very important,” he said. He told a story about a new hostess who accidentally told a customer’s wife that a birthday cake had been prepared for her. The customer was understandably angry, and the hostess felt terrible about having spilled the beans. “On her own, she went out and bought flowers for the woman celebrating the birthday and offered them to her. Both of them were very pleased that she went out of her way to do that,” Ignace said. For TRB’s first two years, it was strictly suit and tie for Ignace and the exceptional historical setting that the restaurant occupies. But when Chef Brian McKenna wrapped up at The Courtyard, next to the Forbidden City’s Donghuamen east gate, it was an opportunity Ignace didn’t want to pass up. “My first meal ever in Beijing when I came to open Maison Boulud was at The Courtyard,” he recalled fondly. “When TRB Bites first opened for tastings, Ignace
experimented with a genuinely casual approach that included service with no tablecloths. Even an easy audience like family and close friends thought it was a bridge too far. “We wanted to do something even more casual, but the feedback wasn’t so…positive,” he said. “People associate that venue with fine dining.” It’s been a learning experience so far for Ignace. “Every restaurant I’ve created has never quite turned out the way I thought,” he said. “The pricing is casual, even if the experience is not entirely.” He also added that TRB’s customers “want service even if the feel is casual,” noting that Bites offers valet parking. TRB Bites wasn’t Ignace’s only new venue in 2015, although he had a different idea for the other one, their events space, Copper. “I passed by the site all the time on my way to work, and one day the door was open and peeked inside. I kept thinking about how I could move in there and live with my family,” he said. The landlords, however, were adamant that the space, a former copper wire factory, could only be used for commercial purposes. Disappointed but seeing an opportunity, Ignace saw the site as a place where TRB’s catering could find its own home. “I saw it as an event space because we do quite a bit of catering. Requests began coming in more than before. Copper is an in-house events space because our catering and Copper are technically separate. We will also use it for more TRB-generated events next year, maybe even brunch,” Ignace said. For 2016, Ignace said that “nothing has actively presented itself” in terms of new opportunities, but seeing how quickly he moved to expand TRB’s presence in 2015, we know that anything could happen.
BUILDING HIS BUSINESS ONE PITA AT A TIME By Kipp Whittaker
photo: KIPP WHITTAKER
hen Avi Shabtai first moved to Beijing with his family to work with a satellite communications company in 2000, he didn’t realize he would also be bringing the recipe for the best pita bread in the city with him. That was a time when most people in China had no idea what pita bread was nor the various other Middle Eastern staples that he would help to introduce into Beijing’s food culture. A decade later and he’s still at it, with no sign of slowing down his delicious operation in the heart of Sanlitun. Avi had accumulated food and beverage experience before deciding to settle down in Beijing, but nothing could prepare him for the tasty legacy he would create in this far-away land. It all began when he decided to open a little pita bakery on Niuren Jie in 2004. The restaurant we know as Biteapitta soon followed. “Looking to promote our new product we decided to open a small shop alongside the bakery that offered a number of signature Middle Eastern dishes,” Avi added. As his reputation and client base grew, so did the menu at their modest digs at the original location. In 2005 they decided to become a fully operational restaurant. One of the main challenges he encountered in those early days was maintaining authenticity. This included everything from what to include on the menu to interior decorations, and most importantly, sourcing the right ingredients to create his food , many of which were not readily available. This led to him slightly adapting Middle Eastern flavors to local preferences. He has strived to keep these flavors and the overall quality of their food consistent after 10-plus years, which is essential to keeping people coming back for more. Avi maintained this magic formula at the original location until 2010, at which time all the venues in that area were demolished. He then moved to a larger space on Sanlitun Houjie at the center of Beijing’s nightlife scene. He knew with this relocation that he would have to adapt to the new surroundings by expanding the drinks menu,
and extending the opening hours to please the regulars in this bustling area. It is this ability to adapt to the needs of their customers and provide a consistent source of nourishment that has helped Biteapitta survive for so many years. It’s an all too common story that a restaurant owner feels he can expand too fast only to engage autopilot, eventually leading to a failing business. “The food industry is both physically and mentally demanding. Even though it might seem easy to succeed, there is no formula for instant gratification; only commitment and a lot of hard work will lead to success,” Avi said. But how does a restaurant specializing in something so different to the local cuisine stay alive for so long? “From the get-go we were confident in our product, and that it would adequately supply a mostly unfulfilled market for Middle Eastern food in Beijing. The constant positive response and feedback from our clients, as well as annual recognition from the local media, has been our main source of encouragement as we strive to maintain our brand,” Avi stated. If you’ve never experienced this jewel of authentic Middle Eastern cuisine, Avi recommends that you start off with their mezze platter (a tasting set of 10 unique salads and spreads), accompanied with their famous hummus and falafel. Follow that up with grilled lamb kebabs served with Majadra rice and spinach patties, and wash it all down with their homemade lemonana (mint lemonade). Don’t leave without capping this bellybursting experience off with a Middle Eastern coffee and a taste of their baklava. As for the future of Biteapitta, Avi was passionate in adding that, “our hope is that we will keep our existing clients satisfied while sharing our Middle Eastern experience with as many people as possible.” A modest response from the man who pretty much built a Middle Eastern culinary tradition in Beijing from the ground up, one pita bread at a time.
Alan Wong The Californication of Beijing’s F&B Industry By Margaux Schreurs
photo: the Beijinger
lan Wong is really, really crazy about sushi. Before my interview, I thought he might like sushi as much as I, which is already quite a lot. But no, it turns out that sushi is his favorite food and that he eats it where ever he goes, no matter whether he is on holiday in Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Japan. The Sacramento, California born-and-bred owner of Hatsune tells me he can be found in Genki Sushi in the Kerry Center frequently. “My favorite food will always be Japanese. I’m kind of a freak about that, I own a sushi restaurant, but every once and while you’ll find me at Genki Sushi, in the Kerry Center, just piling up the plates.” At the moment, Alan owns 12 restaurants in both Beijing and Shanghai, including Hatsune, Hunan-style restaurant Karaiya Spice House, and Japanese Kagen Teppanyaki, and he is working on another two or three to be opened in the next year to expand the Hatsune brand. Alan grew up in the industry in the States. “Whether it’s working in restaurants, which I did for four years as a chef and a waiter, or only really having friends who worked in restaurants. They had a lot of stories, and I went to restaurants a lot, so I had a lot of exposure.” As to why he chose Beijing, Alan says he originally came here to do an internship at a real estate company his father was working for. “Eventually it was that company that I borrowed money from to open the first Hatsune. The idea was basically to catch the niche expatriate market. When we first opened, there were already more than 300 restaurants serving Japanese food in Beijing. “When we first opened in 2001, all the foreigners knew it as ‘oh my god, it’s from home,’ Australians and Europeans but especially New Yorkers and Californians they all flocked because we were selling California-style sushi.” This exposure alone doesn’t explain the success behind his restaurants, as Alan gets his inspiration from basically everywhere. “From fashion, to watching Dexter, to Pinterest, to traveling, to talking with friends, to having a lot of chef friends off of whom I can bounce ideas, and doing collaborations together like we have done with Mosto and Brian McKenna,” Alan said.
“Every restaurateur will say the same thing, there’s not a specific way or a specific motivation or anything; you absorb ideas from everywhere. I also get lots of ideas from my staff, and I take those ideas and mould them and then recreate them.” Of course, there are plenty of challenges for Alan to maintain the high-quality restaurants that we Beijingers have become accustomed to from him. Alan’s main obstacle is staffing. “Everyone in the industry will say the exact same thing.” “Staffing in the HR sense but also more in the training sense because when you grow up in California or in the Western world you’re eating at a lot of restaurants, and especially in the States with the tipping culture, you end up eating in restaurants that give you good service, or at least they try to give you good service because they want to get the tip. Now, that sort of becomes ingrained in you. “I always used to say that I could pluck anybody off the street of California and they could be serving customers in less than a month. Whereas with Chinese staff, with no experience, it takes up to three months before they’re actually in front of customers and taking orders, but even longer before they can get that level of service that just feels natural, that intuitive service,” Alan said. Regardless, this struggle hasn’t kept him from building what we can probably call a little bit of an empire. Alan trains his staff well, and says they’re one of the reasons for his success. “I treat them like people instead of like a commodity.” What’s next for Alan? “We’re opening in Disney in Shanghai. We beat out hundreds of other Japanese restaurants to get that spot. I told Disney in various meetings, if you want California-style Japanese food, I’m the only choice. If you want a traditional Japanese restaurant then do not consider me, so I was one of two choices.” Apart from that, we can expect upgrades: Alan has finally tweaked his sushi rice and soy sauce the way he wants it, after over 13 years of trying. And with these incredible ingredients, he will also be bringing us new dishes this year.
Rich AkerS FROM BOY BAND MEMBER TO PIZZA MARKETING NINJA By Steven Schwankert
photo: judy zhou
ung Ho Pizza Marketing Ninja Rich Akers is an interesting character. He’s had a couple of different lives in China, which he refers to on his website as “a checkered past, including but not limited to stints as a professional dance choreographer, artist, boy band member, graphic designer, English school manager, and Westerosi political analyst (freelance).” That boy band was called Unique. Here’s what he told his brother Royce about the experience, in a 2010 article for Vice: “We were just a bunch of guys who knew each other from the dance scene in Melbourne, trying to get parts in musicals. We’d each been to China a couple of times and we were jealous at how easily impressed they were. They were crazy for the Backstreet Boys and even thirdtier acts like Michael Learns to Rock. We looked at each other and thought, “We can do this.” This was 10 years ago, when there were millions of people walking around with nothing to look at. Crowds would gather at car crashes or domestic arguments. Not that we did it in a super-exploitative sense, though we would have been crazy not to see that aspect of it. But yeah, the thinking was, with all those millions of people, our chances were pretty good.” Unique may have been unique, but they never rose to the heights of a third-tier act like Michael Learns to Rock. It was after that experience Rich eventually started the career for which he’s best known in Beijing, as a “creative type,” doing marketing first for Lush and Pyro Pizza (now Sugar Shack) in Wudaokou, and now as the aforementioned marketing ninja and partner at Gung
Ho Pizza, the back-to-back winner of the Beijinger Pizza Cup in 2014 and 2015. Rich continues to express himself musically via his ‘90s cover band, Bye Bye Kitty. He revealed the secret of a good cover band earlier in 2015: “We’re not there to pull off the perfect rendition of a song, or to execute a perfect guitar solo. We’re there to engage the audience, and be a fun band. So we’ll jump up on the speakers, or our guitarist will take an audience member’s bottle of Tsingtao and use it as a guitar slide. I once jumped on someone’s back and sang an entire chorus,” he said. When he’s not fronting his band, Rich and Gung Ho co-founders Jade Grey and John O’Loghlen have given the pizza chain a green edge, publishing a company environmental impact report, and launching a pizza box design contest to help reduce the waste generated by everyone’s favorite pizza delivery device. On his way to the Dining Hall of Fame, he collected another accolade, an Outstanding award for Best Personality (Casual) in the 2013 Beijinger Reader Restaurant Awards, and co-hosted the 2013, 2014, and 2015 Beijinger Reader Bar and Club Awards. In a 2011 interview, Rich looked back on how Beijing had changed between then and 2003. “Better food, better shopping, best of all though is the amount of people willing to come and stay for an extended period of time. Definitely not like the old days where people would come for a month and then you’d never see them again. I’ve made some great friends over the years and more and more of them are still around (or have returned)!”
AWARD-WINNING FAMILY FAVORITE
ne wonders if Annie’s founder Annie Lee shouldn’t be in the dotcom business. Although she operates nine Italian family restaurants, many of her most loyal customers have never visited one, enjoying her speedily-delivered pizzas, salads, and pasta dishes. But in a move that’s most certainly bricks and mortar, all of the ordering is handled by telephone – Annie’s just hasn’t embraced online ordering yet. While its reputation for delivery is strong, its attention to customers, especially younger and family customers, has propelled the chain forward. With play areas, paper and crayons for drawing and coloring, and little pizza kits for kids, Annie’s is most certainly family friendly. Budding artists can have their finished work displayed on the restaurant’s wall, and even in a book it now publishes, Artists on Annie’s. Billing itself as “Beijing’s family Italian,” it’s just that, words like “fancy” or “pretentious” will never be used to describe it. Service is attentive, and all wait staff speak at least a modicum of English. Smaller wood-fired pizzas run RMB 38-58, with larges from RMB 48-88. Annie prides herself on the fact the price of the margherita pizza has never gone
up since her first restaurant opened in 1999. Annie’s menu borders on the gargantuan. Twenty different pizza varieties, seven types of pasta, seven types of risotto, 17 pasta dishes, 15 kinds of salads, and six soups are just some of what’s available – and of course, can also be delivered. The restaurants also offer a full bar and a growing wine list of Italian labels. Annie’s is also a perpetual award winner at the Beijinger Reader Restaurant Awards. In 2015, Annie’s won for Best Value, Best Delivery, Best Restaurant of the Year (Casual/ Non-Chinese), and Best Italian – Casual, and received an Outstanding award for Best Salads. Also in 2015, Annie’s was the runner-up in the Beijinger Pizza Cup. The chain won the Beijinger’s unofficial pizza delivery race in 2014, beating out four other competitors, including the next fastest, by six minutes. With pizza clearly a Beijing favorite – two of the first four venues entering our Dining Hall of Fame are pizza restaurants – and Annie’s a pizza pioneer in Beijing, it’s clear that Annie’s will continue as a local institution. For full listings for all the Dining Hall of Fame venues, visit thebeijinger.com/directory.
KEEPING IT LEAN AND KEEN
“duck burger” joint, Da Dong Duck. It helps that Da Dong himself is somewhat of a celebrity chef, in a food culture where most chefs prefer to remain behind the scenes in the kitchen. Da Dong himself may be a Beijinger, and his signature dish may be Peking duck, but the food at his restaurants – presented in a hulking 80-plus page tome of a menu – stretches far beyond, incorporating influences from all of China’s eight great culinary traditions, and even French cuisine. Dishes such as foie gras glazed and shaped to look like cherries or hawthorns, or broiled avocado with pearlized oyster sauce (from the menu at Taste of Da Dong) bring to mind the work of chefs like Heston Blumenthal more than they do Chinese cooking. All of this adds up to making Da Dong a very worthy addition to the Beijinger Dining Hall of Fame. For full listings for all the Dining Hall of Fame venues, visit thebeijinger.com/directory.
photo COURTESY OF DA DONG
hat would Beijing cuisine be without Peking duck? And what would Peking duck be without Da Dong? Chef Dong Zhenxiang’s (most commonly known as Da Dong for his looming 1.93m stature) eponymous restaurant empire has come to represent not only Peking duck dining in the capital, but also boundary-pushing modern Chinese cuisine. It is this commitment to quality and innovation that has helped Da Dong unseat time-honored brands like Quanjude and Bianyifang from their Peking duck hegemony. In the 30 years since the brand was established with its first location at Tuanjiehu, Da Dong has become famous for his super lean roast duck, which keeps the crispy skin but renders out most of the fat for a healthier morsel. The duck is served with all the traditional trimmings, including sugar – a variety specially selected for the size of the individual crystals – to dip the brittle pieces of skin. This revolutionary take on duck has helped Da Dong create an empire of nine restaurants, as well as approachably priced offshoot Taste of Dadong, and franchise-worthy
Rolling with the times
iconic fish display. The sushi bar means you can witness Hatsune’s samurai chefs preparing the rolls and sashimi, especially if you are eating your fare at the bar. Beijinger staff favorites include the Amy roll (RMB 70) with large slices of salmon, rock shrimp (RMB 68) which are extremely moreish and a little bit spicy, as well as the bacon caesar salad with deep fried kale wrapped in bacon (RMB 65). While this is certainly not the healthiest salad option, its flavors get us to keep coming back. If you haven’t been to Hatsune before, three locations around Beijing make it easy to samples its sushi and other items before the Beijinger 2016 Reader Restaurant Awards kick off. For full listings for all the Dining Hall of Fame venues, visit thebeijinger.com/directory.
o keep on rolling with the times, Hatsune’s menu has been tweaked over and over again to serve that staple California Japanese restaurant that everyone loves. The reason behind its popularity is very straightforward: the food is really damn good, both in terms of quality and in terms of flavors. The success of their menu can be attested by the amount of awards that this veritable institution has taken home from our annual reader restaurant awards. Hatsune has always won the award for best Japanese at the Beijinger Reader Restaurant Awards for at least the last seven consecutive years and usually also takes the top prize or ‘outstanding’ for best business lunch. However, good food alone is not enough to maintain a restaurant of Hatsune’s quality. The staff is friendly and helpful, unlike much of Beijing’s service staff, adding to contemporary décor, in particular the Sanlitun branch’s
STANDING STRONG AND TALL AFTER ALMOST 20 YEARS
purveyed it in quantity to the capital. And that’s where The Tree made its name: the place where you could go and get an authentic, wood-fired, handmade pizza, fries/ frites served with mayonnaise, and a cold Belgian beer to wash it down. There’s now also Nearby the Tree, in case the extra 30 meters to reach The Tree is just too far, or in case your navigation skills are poor and you can’t find the flagship location. In colder months, sitting next to the pizza oven sure feels warm and comfy. The number 10 pizza, with Parma ham, olives, cheese, and tomato sauce is pleasingly salty and almost buttery, accompanied by a Belgian beer made slightly sweeter as a result. Certainly Beijingers seem to think so – The Tree took home second place in the Beijinger 2014 Pizza Cup, narrowly beaten out by Gung Ho! Pizza. Longevity among Beijing eateries, especially those catering primarily to foreigners, is not common. But with this place going as strong as ever, there’s no reason why this Tree won’t continue to grow and grow. For full listings for all the Dining Hall of Fame venues, visit thebeijinger.com/directory.
photo: kipp whittaker
wanted to do something with fire somehow. I wanted to have a fire, because it creates such a good atmosphere, and gives that fantastic smell of smoke,” The Tree’s founder told the Beijinger in a 2014 interview, celebrating 25 years in Beijing. That firestarter was called Hidden Tree and opened in 1996, on what was then Sanlitun South Bar Street (now underneath the cement of Sanlitun SOHO). People spoke about it initially in low tones: “They have real pizza,” it was whispered. When that location was demolished, De Smet found a new, similarly concealed courtyard site just off Sanlitun Back Street, complete with, of course, a large tree that once again sits at the middle of the restaurant. The experience, and the menu, has changed little over the years. The Tree only does a few things, but does them well: pizzas baked in that wood-fired oven, which was moved from the original location; salads; toasted sandwiches, and beer. Oh yes, Belgian beer, did we mention that? While Belgian beer has proliferated in Beijing to the point of even having a bar named Brussels a few years ago (now The Local), it was The Tree that first
Out with the old
Make these new restaurants your dining agenda in early 2016 By Robynne Tindall
photos:photoS: Joey GUO, UNI KEN
claypot rice at rouge restaurant
f the Beijinger Restaurant Awards teach us anything each year, it’s that a) we have some pretty darn good restaurants in our fair city and b) people are pretty set in their ways when it comes to new restaurants. As such, we decided to come up with an edible agenda of the restaurants you absolutely must try if you want to consider yourself any kind of dining expert in 2016. From regional Chinese to swanky fine dining, this list has you covered, whatever your tastes. Beijing Pie 河沿肉饼 Beijing Pie doesn’t look like much but once you take a bite of their roubing (the eponymous Beijing pie) or spicy homestyle gong bao chicken thigh, you’ll realize this is no ordinary hole-in-the-wall joint. A clean, inviting atmosphere and English-speaking staff/menus show what can be done with local street food. Reason enough for us to venture towards the Forbidden City. Daily 10.30am-10pm. 159-2 Beiheyan Dajie, Dongcheng District (6528 2187) 东城区北河沿大街159-2号 Just Fun 家范儿 It seems like everyone and their uncle is leaving the corporate world to open up a restaurant these days, but few are as successful as Just Fun (ignore the name), the Shuangjing restaurant set up by a former designer. The homestyle Guizhou dishes (try the chicken with fresh
chilies) will have your taste buds dancing and the roughhewn interior is clear evidence of the owner’s design background. Daily noon-2.30pm, 5.30-10pm. A4, 66 Guangqu Lu, Chaoyang District (5712 4712) 朝阳区广渠路66好远甲4号底墒 Ling Er Jiu Noodles 零贰玖 Time was, we used to frequent Gongti’s Yellow River Noodles for our late night noodle needs, but now our doughy hearts belong to Ling Er Jiu. From the original branch on Xingfucun Zhonglu, Ling Er Jiu has since expanded to four locations around Beijing, all serving up lip-smackingly spicy versions of Shaanxi’s famous youpo noodles. Don’t sleep on the roujiamo either – these are drunk snacks to be savored. Daily 10am-4am. Xingfucun Zhonglu, near the crossroads with Chunxiu Lu, Chaoyang District (5745 4029) 零贰玖油泼面：幸福村中路（靠近春秀路十字 路口） Rouge Restaurant 石塘嘴 It’s a bold choice to open a Chinese restaurant in a location more known for its Western dining options, but faithful renditions of classic Hong Kong-style comfort foods make Rouge a top choice for dinner in Courtyard 4. The roast squab in particular keeps us going back for more – each mahogany-skinned bird carved into four sections, the
ling er jiu noodles
spicy hunan at the southern fish head proudly displayed on the edge of the plate. Daily 11am-10pm. 1/F, Bldg 10, Courtyard 4, Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District (8587 6866) 朝阳区工体北路4号院10号楼1层 The Southern Fish 鱼芙南 Dazhalan restaurant The Southern Fish shows what can be achieved at the intersection of food and interior design. The small yet perfectly formed space is almost gallery-like in its simplicity, and it is in the menu of spicy Hunan dishes that the fireworks really start. Try the face-meltingly spicy mashed green chilies with preserved egg – be sure to have a glass of water at the ready. Hunan food in Beijing is often just a Sichuan peppercorn-free version of Sichuan food, but this is the real deal. Tue-Sun 11am-2.30pm, 5-10.30pm. 166 Yangmeizhu Xiejie, Xicheng District (8315 2539) 西城区杨梅竹斜街166号
Molly Malone’s Gastropub & Grill Molly Malone’s was the first big move for Beijing’s celebrity chef Brian McKenna after he moved on from The Courtyard … until he sold his stake two weeks after the opening, that is. Nevertheless, Molly Malone’s seems to have managed to maintain at least a bit of the momentum created by McKenna – the fried chicken sandwich is to die for. It’s a beautiful space, too. Daily 11.30am-1am. 90 Jinbao Jie, Chaoyang District (6522 7258) 朝阳区金宝街90号 Napa Recognition for organic and farm-to-table dining in Beijing is still growing, but among those leading the charge is Napa, a California-inspired restaurant and café from
photos courtesy of the southern fish, rosewood beijing
Bottega Bottega reminded us that there’s more to pizza than mounds of toppings and masses of cheese; a good quality base doesn’t need much more adornment. Bottega’s Salvo brothers should know a bit about dough – their family has been in the Naples pizza business since the 1920s. With a bustling dining room and reliable menu, Bottega has fast become one of our favorite casual dining choices. Daily noon-3pm, 5.30-11pm. 18 SanlitunLu, Chaoyang District (6416 1752) 朝阳区三里屯路18号
Happi Sake Sake Manzo, Happi Sake … it’s easy to guess what the owner of both is passionate about. An unassuming single story building on the east Third Ring Road, Happi Sake serves up a wide array of sake and Japanese cuisine. The yakitori is the star of the show and, since the restaurant is open until 2am, offers a solid alternative to the usual latenight chuan’r. With so many sakes on offer too, it makes for the perfect place to learn about the underappreciated spirit. Daily 6pm-2am. 2A Tuanjiehu Beilu, Chaoyang District (6582 8216) 朝阳区团结湖北路甲2号
enthusiastic team Andrew Hsu and Colin Smith. Smith’s cooking makes the best of produce from local suppliers like Little Willow Organic Farm in dishes such as vibrant fusion salads and hearty soups. Tue-Sun 11am-8pm. 20 Liulitun Zhonglu, Chaoyang District (20m east of the junction of Yaojiayuan Lu and Tianshuiyuan Dongjie) (6595 9181) 朝阳区六里屯中路20号（姚家园路和甜水园东街交 口往东50米）
Company showed that is it possible to successfully make the transition from online to offline. With quirky marketing, a focused offering (meatballs, duh), and a new range of take-home sauces and spices, The Meatball Company is doing craft food right. We love that the Beijing market still has space for this kind of small, idiosyncratic business. Tue-Sat Noon-10pm, Sun 11.30am-9pm. 27 Dashibei Hutong, Dongcheng District (no phone) 东城区大石碑胡同27号
The Georg None of Beijing’s independent fine dining establishments could hold a candle to TRB until The Georg crept quietly into being at the end of 2015. Set in a transformed hutong building, The Georg (from Danish silverware brand Georg Jensen) serves modern Danish cuisine – simple ingredients immaculately presented. More proof that fine dining has a place in the hutongs. Mon-Sat 6-10.30pm. 45 Dongbuyaqiao Hutong, Di’anmen Dongdajie, Dongcheng District (8408 5300) 东城区地安门东大街东不压桥胡同45号
Red Bowl, Rosewood Beijing For those who are tired of the usual rough and ready hotpot experience, Red Bowl is a breath of fresh air. The Sichuan soup base may be authentic but the vibe is anything but – think sleek concrete, dramatic lighting, and Balearic-style beats. The menu of Beijing-inspired cocktails doesn’t hurt either – try the Hutong Daiquiri with Plantation 3 Stars rum, strawberry, and Sichuan peppercorn. Daily 5.30pm-1am. 1/F, Rosewood Beijing, Jing Guang Centre, Hujialou, Chaoyang District (6536 0066) 朝阳区呼家楼京广中心北京瑰丽酒店
Xi Yi Lang 喜一郎 We’ve got some pretty good options in Beijing when it comes to Japanese food, so much so that many have started to specialize. Geba Geba’s new specialty tempura restaurant, Xi Yi Lang, shows that the delicacy of Japanese food is not reserved for slices of sashimi. 70-year-old Asano Kiichiro has been frying tempura for decades and his expertise shows in every morsel. Get the set menu and let him work his magic. Daily 11am-2pm, 5-10pm. 101, Bldg 20, 5 Vanke Park, Tianshuiyuan Jie, Chaoyang District (6501 4377) 朝阳区甜水园街万科公园5号20楼101
Rong Xiao Guan 荣小馆 A spinoff from subtly elegant fine dining restaurant Xin Rongji, Rong Xiao Guan embodies the trend of big name restaurants launching cheaper, “popular” brands (see also: Da Dong Duck). Rong Xiao Guan might be a casual restaurant, but they aren’t resting on their laurels when it comes to the quality of the food – the Jiangsu-style dishes sing with sweet and savory flavors. Daily 11am-8.30pm. F1-B50-51, Yintai Center, 2 Jianguomen Waidajie, Chaoyang District (8517 1699) 朝阳区建国门外大街2号银泰中心F1-B50-51号
N’Joy, Nuo Hotel Beijing Inspired by the voyages of Chinese Admiral Zheng He, the buffet counters at Nuo Hotel’s all-day dining destination N’Joy present offerings from 10 different cuisines (don’t miss the British Sunday roast or the Indian curries). This globalized offering makes N’Joy a cut above many other buffets around town, particularly on Sundays, when you can complement your meal with a choice of four free-flow Champagnes. Mon-Fri 6.30-10am, 11.30am-2pm, 5.30-9.30pm, Sat-Sun 6.30-10.30am, noon-2.30pm, 5.30-9.30pm. 1/F, Nuo Hotel Beijing, 2A Jiangtai Lu, Chaoyang District (5926 8888) 朝阳区将台路甲2号北京诺金酒店1层 The Meatball Company Starting off as a WeChat-only delivery service, The Meatball
red bowl, rosewood beijing
Comfort and Joy
A Month-by-Month Guide to the Most Common Chinese Festival Foods By Robynne Tindall
January Laba congee, Laba Festival – 8th day of 12th lunar month (Jan 17, 2016) Laba congee is a complex dish of rice, beans, dried fruits, nuts, and proteins such as bean curd. Laba Festival was originally an occasion to make sacrifices to the ancestors, so when eating laba congee people first make an offering and always leave a little congee after eating, to symbolize plenty in the New Year. In northern China, this is also the day to make laba garlic, whole cloves of garlic preserved in black vinegar, great for dipping your dumplings in during Spring Festival. February Dumplings, Spring Festival – 1st day of 1st lunar month (Feb 8, 2016) Eaten on the first day of Spring Festival, dumplings represent change and fecundity in the new year. The shape of dumplings resembles ancient Chinese gold ingots (sycee) so they are a particularly wealthy omen. Some people even hide one jiao and five jiao coins inside the dumplings, which are thought to bring good fortune to whoever finds them. Yuanxiao, Lantern Festival – 15th day of 1st lunar month (Feb 22, 2016) The last of the Spring Festival foods, yuanxiao (or tangyuan) are balls of glutinous rice flour cooked and served in a light sugar syrup. They may be large or small, filled or unfilled. Yuanxiao literally means “first evening,” referring to the first full moon after Chinese New Year, when Lantern Festival is held. March Chunbing, Longtaitou Festival – 2nd day of 2nd lunar month (Mar 10, 2016) Also known as lichun, this festival celebrates the onset of spring. Chunbing, thin pancakes wrapped around an assortment of meat and vegetables, were a way for common folk to welcome in the new season by literally “biting the spring.” April Qingtuan, Qingming Festival – 104 days after the winter solstice (Apr 4, 2016) These green glutinous rice dumplings – usually filled with sweet red bean paste – are associated with Qingming, or Tomb sweeping, Festival. Qingtuan are a truly seasonal food, since the barley grass used to color and flavor them is only available around the time of Qingming.
June Zongzi, Dragon Boat Festival – 5th day of 5th lunar month (Jun 9, 2016) The eponymous dragon boat racing aside, the most famous part of Dragon Boat Festival is zongzi, steamed glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in banana or reed leaves. Legend has it that zongzi came about during the Warring States Period, when poet Qu Yuan drowned himself in the Miluo river after failing to warn the Chu king against the Qin invasion. Villagers threw packets of rice into the river to stop the fish from eating his body. Gruesome. August Qiaoguo, Qixi Festival – 7th Day of 7th lunar month (Aug 9, 2016) Qixi celebrates the tale of the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl, whose forbidden love saw them banished to opposite sides of the Milky Way, only to meet once a year. Since Qixi is traditionally a women’s festival, young girls would make qiaoguo, thin fried pastries made from flour and sugar syrup. September Mooncakes, Mid-Autumn Festival – 15th day of 8th lunar month (Sep 15, 2016) Mooncakes’ rounded shape is meant to represent the full moon, as well as the coming together of family. Mooncakes (yuebing) are both a hot and an unwanted commodity – everyone wants to give them but no-one wants to eat them. This could be because a single Cantonese-style mooncake, with its lard pastry, salted duck egg yolk, and sugar-packed filling, can contain upwards of 1,000 calories. October Chongyang Cake, Chongyang Festival – 9th day of 9th lunar month (Oct 9, 2016) According to the I Ching, nine is a yang number, so the ninth day of the ninth lunar month has too much yang. To protect against the yang, it is customary to go hiking on this day. People in non-mountainous areas eat Chongyang cake, as the character for cake (gao, 糕) sounds like the character for height (gao, 高). December Dumplings, Winter Solstice (Dec 21, 2016) Yes, the Chinese festival calendar mandates the eating of dumplings twice per year. The Winter Solstice practice of eating dumplings is thought to have originated in the Han dynasty, when a kindly doctor took pity on some cold street children and prepared dumplings for them to eat.
escape Your Downtown Comfort Zone and Try These Great outlying Restaurants by Margaux Schreurs and Robynne Tindall
eijing’s central business district may be chockablock with restaurants but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some great dining destinations outside of the usual haunts in Chaoyang and Dongcheng Districts. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorites and divided them according to area. This list focuses on Haidian and Shunyi, as these areas have the highest concentration of restaurants.
WUDAOKOU/HAIDIAN If you’ve ever come to Beijing with the sole purpose of studying Chinese, chances are that you lived in Wudaokou. If you didn’t, this student hub of activity may be very far off your radar, although it doesn’t have to be. We put out some feelers in this northwestern area to see what’s happening in terms of food. Khan Baba If you ever have a curry craving, this Pakistani and Indian restaurant is the perfect spot. They have a lunch buffet at RMB 55 per person, which includes, among other offerings, a delicious okra curry, chickpea curry, chicken curry, and chicken kebabs. Daily 10am-10pm. Jixin Dasha, Zhanchunyuan, Haidian District (5692 7068) 汗巴巴巴基斯坦餐厅：海淀区展 春园蓟鑫大厦
soups, cooked breakfasts, and pastas are well presented and are packed with great flavor, ranging in price between RMB 16-50, with drinks approximately RMB 25-38. For breakfast, try the fruit pancakes with apple or banana (RMB 35). 24 hours. 12-8 Huaqing Jiayuan, Haidian District (8286 7026) 桥咖啡：海淀区华清嘉园12-8号
Mingdong Barbeque There’s no lack of char-grilled Korean bites around Wudaokou, but it can be difficult to know where has the best. Mingdong Barbeque is a solid choice for both barbecue and Korean dishes with a plate of pork belly going for RMB 38 and beef sirloin for RMB 114. If you’ve into bibimbap, their standard version with pork and kimchi goes for a tasty RMB 28. 24 hours. 29 Chengfu Lu, Haidian District (6164 7767) 江南烤肉：海淀区成府路29号
Windy City Ballroom Comfort food is the name of the game at Windy City. Chef Dustin Merrett (formerly of Home Plate) whips up classic American dishes such as ribs and steaks. It may be outside of the north Fifth Ring Road, but Windy City is worth the trip for downtowners. Daily 11am-10pm. 9 Yongtaizhuang Beilu, Haidian District (6299 3777) 风渡嘉荷西餐厅：海淀区永泰庄 北路9号
Bridge Café Bridge Café is a 24-hour Wudaokou institution and has hosted many a studious, inebriated, and hungover student, as well as a few confused and homesick ones. Sandwiches,
Shunyi may seem remote for us downtowners, but for the many expats that call it home there is a great range of restaurant options. Just remember that the restaurants in Shunyi are often quite spread
SHUNYI photo: star5221 (Flickr)
Sugar Shack Pizza Wudaokou’s Sugar Shack, once Pyro’s and related to Gung Ho!, is somewhat of a temple for students in this northwestern area. Get a New York-style pizza (RMB 115155 depending on your topping, 18-inch) and pair with jalapeno
poppers (RMB 40) or potato skins (RMB 45) to share. If you live nearby, they also deliver until midnight every day, so you don’t even need to leave the house to get your pizza fix. Daily 10am-1am. Huaqing Jiayuan, Bldg 12, Wudaokou, Haidian District (8286 6240) 海淀区五道口华清嘉园12号楼
out, so getting around on foot isn’t always an option. L’Atelier This French bakery offers an array of authentic (and delicious) breads and pastries, all baked in house. A good option for a quick lunch or for Shunyi residents to pick up their daily bread. Opening times vary. 102, Bldg 2, Huizhan Yujing, Yufeng Lu, Shunyi District (5686 4089) 讲麦堂：顺义区裕丰路会展誉景 2号楼底商102室 Shalimar Shalimar opened in the middle of 2015 and quickly became our favorite Pakistani-Indian restaurant in Shunyi. Their vegetarian offerings stand out – try the chana masala, a richly-spiced chickpea curry. Daily 10am-10pm. 104, 1/F, Bldg 8, 18 Yufeng Lu, Shunyi District (5686 4641)
顺义区裕丰路18号8号楼1层104 室 The Orchard An institution among Shunyi residents, The Orchard serves tasty Western food (often with organic, homegrown ingredients) on beautiful grounds lined with fruit trees, trellises, and ponds. A quick trip here and you’ll feel worlds away from Beijing. Daily noon-3pm, 6-9pm. Hegezhuang Village, Cuigezhuang, Shunyi District (6433 6270) 果园西餐厅：顺义区崔各庄乡何 各庄村
CHANGPING Seawolf Eatery & Distillery 100 percent American-owned and operated, Seawolf serves classic Western dishes such as steaks, salads, and pizza to a hungry audience in Changping. Live music
every Friday night. Daily 11am-midnight. A27 Shuiguan Xincun, Fukang Lu, Changping District (185 0010 6339) 昌平区富康路水关新村甲27号
TONGZHOU Whale’s Pizza If you find yourself in Tongzhou and fancy a pizza then you could do worse than heading to Whale’s. Be warned though, this is no ordinary pizza – the founder decided to create “Chinese-inspired” pizzas topped with things like Urumqi roast lamb, mala crayfish, and (shudder) durian. Daily 10am-10pm. 3/F, Beiyuan Wanda Plaza, Tongzhou District (5090 6086) 鲸品切匹萨：通州区北苑万达广 场3层
Beijing’s best vegetarian restaurants and dishes By Robynne Tindall
hether you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or just trying out Meat-Free Mondays, Beijing isn’t short of great options for those avoiding meat and animal products. The majority of Beijing’s Chinese vegetarian restaurants are located in Dongcheng and Xicheng, particularly around Yonghegong, but others can be found scattered throughout the city. With the opening of health-focused restaurants such as Tribe Organic and Juice by Melissa there are also more Western restaurants with dedicated vegetarian menus. Tribe Organic While the menu is not fully vegetarian/vegan, Tribe has plenty of options whatever your dietary requirements – including gluten-free. Tribe source their ingredients from reliable organic suppliers such as TooToo Farm, so you can be assured of quality. Our favorite plant-based dishes on the menu include the Power Plant Salad (vegetarian) with baba ghanoush and the All-In Smoked Tofu Grain Bowl (vegan) finished off with gochujang tofu cream. Daily 10.30am-10pm. 107, 1/F, Bldg 3, China View, 2 Gongti Donglu, Chaoyang District (8587 1899) 朝阳区工体东路2号中国红街大厦3号楼1层107室 King’s Joy King’s Joy serves up the most creative (and priciest) vegetarian cuisine in Beijing, compromising nothing in terms of taste or diversity despite being completely meat free. The food is loosely Chinese, but dishes such as sushi rolls topped with slices of purple dragon fruit designed to resemble tuna bespeak international influences. If the huge menu is too daunting, King’s Joy offer a range of set menus, starting from around RMB 400 per person (expect to spend the same or more a la carte). Daily 11.20am-10pm. 2 Wudaoying Hutong, Dongcheng District (8404 9191) 京兆尹：东城区五道营胡同2号
Juice by Melissa Not all of the ingredients at Juice by Melissa are destined for the juicer. Many of the vegetables and other healthy goodies make it onto their largely vegan food menu, which features a selection of dips, soups, and salads. Despite the name, dishes like the “Healthy Hippie” (a salad with mixed grains, beetroot, kale, and avocado) show that health food doesn’t have to be all hair cloth and hemp. Mon-Fri 7am-9pm, Sat-Sun 9am-9pm. 101, Dongwai Gongguan, 3 Xinzhong Dongjie, Chaoyang District (130 4112 1556) 朝阳区新中东街3号东外公馆101室 VegeTiger Tucked away in a corner of Fullink Plaza in Chaoyangmen, VegeTiger serves up vegetarian versions of a range of Chinese cuisines, from northern dumplings to spicy Sichuan. They are well known for their fake meat dishes, including “lamb” chuan’r, Sichuan boiled “pork” slices (shuizhu roupian), and Wuxi “pork” ribs, which are so good you won’t even miss the meat. There is a second branch of VegeTiger in Wudaokou. Daily 9.30am-9.30pm. 3/F, Fullink Plaza, 18 Chaoyangmen Waidajie, Dongcheng District (6588 7016) 素虎净素餐厅：东城区朝阳门外大街18号丰联广场 3层
Tianchu Miaoxiang This very popular vegetarian restaurant in a central location (there is another branch near Tsinghua). Tianchu Miaoxiang is well-known for their fake meat dishes, as well as dishes featuring a wide range of mushrooms. Be sure to go slightly outside of peak hours otherwise you will have to queue alongside all the nearby office workers. Daily 11am-9.30pm. 260, 2/F, Bldg D, Chaowai Soho, 6 Chaoyangmen Waidajie, Chaoyang District (5900 1288) 天厨妙香素食馆：朝阳区朝阳门外大街乙6号朝外 Soho大厦D座2层0260号
Our Favorite Vegetarian Dishes Vegetarian eating doesn’t necessarily mean you have to frequent purely vegetarian restaurants – some of Beijing’s most popular dining destinations have excellent vegetarian options on the menu. We’ve compiled a few of our favorites below. Great Leap Brewing #45 Brewpub – The Green Machine (RMB 110) Vegetable-topped pizzas can suffer from sogginess, but not so Great Leap’s formidable Green Machine, the thick, New York-style base topped with GLB’s signature cheese blend, shaved zucchini, roasted red peppers, roasted garlic, kale, shallot, and black pepper ricotta. Ganges – Jeerawali Bhindi (RMB 58) Up to 40 percent of the Indian population is vegetarian, meaning that wherever you are in the world, Indian cuisine is often a good choice for vegetarian diners. Ganges’ Yogi Menu goes one step further, catering to strict vegetarian Buddhists and Hindus by eliminating onion and garlic. We love the jeerawali bhindi, stir-fried okra seasoned with earthy turmeric. Slow Boat Brewery Taproom – The Dongsi Dofu (RMB 45) Even avowed meat-lovers will fall for Slow Boat’s take on the veggie burger. Far from the usual heavy vegetarian patty, here a crisp tofu patty is served inside a bun with crunchy slaw and Sriracha-honey aioli. Ask for it without the aioli to make it vegan. Biteapitta – Hummus and Falafel Pitta (RMB 38) Quick lunches don’t get much better than Biteapitta’s humus and falafel sandwich. The double hit of chickpea goodness, together with tahini sauce, pickles, and chopped fresh veggies, will keep you feeling full until dinner time. In & Out – Crisp Red Beans with Pu’erTea (RMB 38) With its wide variety of mushrooms and allimportant goat’s cheese, Yunnan cuisine is a good choice for vegetarian diners. Sanlitun’s In & Out restaurant has been top of our list of Yunnan recommendations for years – if you go, make sure to order these deep-fried red beans (a good source of protein) seasoned with Yunnan’s famous Pu’er tea.
Getting The Right Gear for Your Cooking Needs By Kipp Whittaker
Too Legit to Equip ... Your Kitchen
photo courtesy of the brands
hese days most of the culinary gear required to turn your kitchen into a state-of-the-art food creating factory is available at the click of a button. There are a variety of websites that offer not only the best deals available, but also free shipping on top of amazing degree of convenience. Sometimes though, you need something specific as quickly as possible. You just don’t have time to wait for it to be delivered to your house when you have a reservation for 20 feisty four-top tables coming to your restaurant later that night or when you have one of your legendary dinner parties to prepare for. That’s why we’ve whipped up a list of markets and other kitchen supply stores to help you get equipped. Metro This place has a little bit of everything. With three locations around the city we checked out the one close to Ikea at the Beyou Lifestyle Center, near San Yuan Qiao. Immediately upon descending into the massive basement level of the mall, you get a strong whiff of a legit American superstore, even though it’s German-owned. It’s more or less a Chinese Super Walmart, filled with a barrage of kitchen essentials to build up your culinary dojo, with everything from pots, pans, barbecues, ovens, pressure cookers, and knives, this is a one-stop shop for equipment and ingredients to get you cooking in no time. They even have a delivery service, so you don’t have to stress about getting a cab with copious amounts of bags filled with wholesale priced goods. Daily 6am-10pm. 35 Dayangfang Lu, Chaoyang District (8738 6888) 朝阳区大羊坊路35号居然之家旁 Beijing Hotel Equipment Corp (HEC) This place seems to be where all company canteens go to outfit their lunch buffets. Here you can find a lot of China-made kitchen equipment of decent quality, at an even better price. It’s a well organized space, though a little dusty in places, with three floors catering to all of your industrial or home kitchen needs. A lot of the goods here you might also find at specialty retailers but here they are available for a quarter of the price, although not necessarily for single items. They also have plates, baking
equipment, meat slicers, juicers, and even Kitchen-Aid mixers, sold at a major discount. Daily 9am-5.30pm. No. 1 Kaiyangli Yijie, Shi’anmen Waidajie, Fengtai District (8355 9988) 丰台区右安门外大街开阳里一街1号 Dongjiao Wholesale Market This relocated market largely associated with kitchen equipment and hotel supplies, is still, despite the big move a couple years ago, exactly that. Various buildings house everything from restaurant gear, fish, and meat, to alcohol and tobacco, all at rock-bottom prices. Everywhere you look, you can see industrial-grade blenders and rice cookers, along with a variety of glassware and pans. You can also find stores specializing in custom packaging so you can make your own labeled cups and boxes. We found Moka Bros stickers, which may be an even bigger endorsement of the services found here than we could possibly provide. Daily 8am-5:30pm. Near Wangsiying Bridge and Wufang Bridge, Chaoyang District (6729 8666) 东郊批发市场：朝阳区王四营桥东 Cuccina This one is dedicated to our upper crust readers. They have all of the kitchen equipment that you likely had to put in storage or hand down to your loser brother-in-law before you decided to make the leap to your new career in Beijing. Most of the kitchen equipment you’ll find here is imported or falls at a higher price point. We recommend Cuccina if you didn’t find what you were looking for at the first three, as they do have a lot of equipment that’s geared towards the foreign market. They seem to cater to the well-heeled, or the newly relocated yoga moms of Beijing missing that Le Creuset Dutch oven from back home. You can expect only the best quality from the gear you’ll find at this popular chain of stores. Daily 10am-9pm. 17 Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District (6413 0223) 朝阳区工体北路17号
Someone’s in the Kitchen Our Favorite Cookbooks for Chinese and Asian Cooking By Robynne Tindall
eijing has a wealth of dining options but there are times when only a homecooked meal will do, whether it’s to save money, guarantee your food is safe and good quality, or simply for a fun evening with friends. While import supermarkets like April Gourmet and Jenny Lou’s make it easy enough to whip up Western classics, with so many great local ingredients on our doorsteps it seems a shame not to embrace Chinese cooking. We’ve picked a few of our favorite Chinese and Asian cookbooks (online recipes may be practical but there’s something romantic about a proper cookbook) to help you on your way. If you’re a true beginner when it comes to Chinese cooking, enroll in a couple of classes at The Hutong, which will ground you in basics such as knife skills and ingredient prep. Visit thehutong.com/beijing-cooking-school for a full calendar of upcoming classes.
Everyday Cooking: Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking Fuchsia Dunlop, 2012 This is by far the most dog-eared recipe book in my Beijing collection. English writer and chef Fuchsia Dunlop, the first westerner and woman to train as a chef at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine in Chengdu, has a way of making Chinese cooking incredibly accessible yet still authentic. The recipes in Every Grain of Rice are fresh and simple, and don’t necessarily pander to Western sensibilities or pantries – not a problem for those in Beijing with easy access to the right ingredients. Available from amazon.cn, The Bookworm
Asian Flavors: Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes Peter Meehan, 2015 I eagerly await the delivery of food and lifestyle quarterly Lucky Peach every three months, so when they published their cookbook I knew it was going to be on the top of my wish list. 101 Easy Asian Recipes does exactly what it says on the tin; the recipes (everything from slow cooker pho to onigiri) are practical and at times willfully inauthentic, perfect for speedy weeknight cooking. Available from amazon.com, taobao.com
Crash Course: Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, 2009
Wok This Way: The Breath of a Wok Grace Young and Alan Richardson, 2004 Award-winning author Grace Young’s dazzlingly photographed tribute to that most essential of Chinese kitchen implements will help you master wok-cooking techniques once and for all. The 125 recipes will help you achieve wok hei, the highly prized but elusive smokey taste that food (usually Cantonese food, specifically) takes on when properly stir-fried in a wok. Available from amazon.cn
With 11 cookbooks and 40 years of teaching Chinese cooking around the world under her belt, Eileen YinFei Lo is just about the most reliable guide through the Chinese kitchen that you could ask for. Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking is structured as a series of lessons that will help you build up to cooking more complicated dishes. If you’re a particularly ambitious cook, we also love her book, The Dim Sum Book: Classic Recipes from the Chinese Teahouse. Available from amazon.cn
Hebei Provincial Government Restaurant Silent Hebei
Daily 11.30am-1.30pm, 6-9.30pm. Zuiba Hutong, Huanghuamen Jie, Dongcheng District (6403 1303) 河北省驻京办：东城区黄花门街锥把胡同
A woman popped up from behind a column, and pointed us around the corner of the courtyard, to “the copper door.” By this point I was ready to pack up and go home. This feeling did not subside upon finding a dark open door leading onto a long corridor of empty private dining rooms. In true horror movie style, a man appeared at the top of the stairs, shouting “we have five foreign friends!” at which point a tiny woman appeared from what appeared to be a secret shaft. Mostly we were just happy that she wasn’t carrying an axe. The menu isn’t worth much discussion: The waitress confirmed that there are no special Hebei dishes, although she could maybe whip us up some roubing, Hebei dahuicai (a not-very-photogenic mix of cabbage, glass noodles, tofu, and meatballs), beef with potatoes, and gongbao shrimp. After taking our order she closed the door and the gas started leaking from the roof of the dining room until we all passed out into the gongbao shrimp. Well, not really; it was more in the kitchen. From the stoves. In the end we survived the experience. And while the food is only slightly more than palatable, there’s nothing too Hebei about this place. Margaux Schreurs
photo: Margaux Schreurs
t all started with five people trudging through the pollution, ready to kill for some fresh air. Nestled in a hutong off a hutong, not at all like any horror film we’ve ever seen (*cough* Silent Hill *cough*) the journey from the main road to the restaurant was arduous on this smoggy day. At the end of the first hutong, we spotted a few signs attached to a dilapidated lamp post: “books,” “coffee,” and finally, “河北省驻京办,” or “Hebei Provincial Government.” Declining books and coffee, things got darker and spookier as we followed the “Hebei Provincial Government” sign, with not a white-but-gray cat or a man in fleecy Burberry-print pajamas in sight. After about two minutes, which felt more like a lifetime, we arrived at an alley that ended in a traditional Chinese gate. There was nobody around, just a sign on the door reading “请勿参观，请勿进去.” If you’re not a Chinese reader, that means “Don’t visit, don’t enter.” Friendly Hebei. However, the Prov Gov column forges on, so we wandered in regardless, finding a deserted hotel lobby with that faint fourth-tier-city-business-hotel-but-best-in-this-damnedcity smell.
… paocai 泡菜 Paocai is a catch-all term for a variety of lightly-pickled vegetables, usually preserved in a pickling liquor of salt, Sichuan pepper, vinegar, and sugar. Any variety of vegetable, from bean sprouts to cabbage to radish, can be made into paocai. Paocai are particularly common in Sichuan cuisine. In Chinese, the word paocai is also used to refer to Korean kimchi (hanshi paocai, 韩式泡菜). … persimmon 柿子 Persimmons, specifically the diospyros kaki variety, are native to Japan, China, Burma, and Nepal. The most common variety in Beijing is the squat, tomato-like fuyu, which may be consumed when they are firm and underripe, or left to soften. Dried persimmons are a popular winter snack. The fruits are first peeled, before being hung to dry for several weeks. As the fruits dry, the fructose comes to the surface, making it look like they have been dusted with powdered sugar. … pidan 皮蛋 Despite being commonly known as “century eggs,” pidan are not in fact preserved for 100 days (or years). Instead, they are packed in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls for anything from several weeks to several months, giving them their signature color and texture – a creamy dark grey-green yolk surrounded by a brown jelly-like white. Pidan definitely fall under the heading of “test the foreigner” dishes, but if you give them a go you’ll find that the salty, umami flavor is not dissimilar to blue cheese, and they slip down pretty easily when married with equally strong ingredients such as scallions and ginger. … pineapple bun 菠萝包 These popular Hong Kong treats are so named because the top of the bun loosely resembles an unpeeled pineapple. This signature look is produced by topping a sweet bread bun with dough similar to that used for sugar cookies, which crisps and turns golden in the oven. Our favorite version of the pineapple bun, commonly served in Hong Kong cha chaan tengs and dai pai dongs, sees the bun halved and stuffed with a fat slab of butter.
Getting Your Tastebuds Out of Beijing China’s Western and Southern Regional Cuisines By Margaux Schreurs
photos courtesy of transit, in & out, jing yaa tang, margaux schreurs
epending on how long you’ve been in Beijing, you may have explored the regional Chinese cuisines extensively. More often than not however, Cantonese, Sichuan, Yunnan, and Xinjiang restaurants are overlooked. These are our favorite dishes and where we’d get them if we were you. To ensure you’re able to vote in the Beijinger 2016 Reader Restaurant Awards, get out there and try them all.
Cantonese Cha Siu Bao These steamed parcels filled with sweet barbecued pork never fail to satisfy any dim sum craving, especially when you get them alongside the entire dim sum menu at Jing Yaa Tang (RMB 128+15 percent per person, all you can eat).
introduction to Sichuan cuisine. Can you handle the spice? Get it at Transit (RMB 98), one of the best Sichuan restaurants in town. Xiaochaorou Xiaochaorou, a dish that literally means “small fried meat” is pretty intense: try the tender cubes of pork (or chicken if you request it) and an insane amount of three different types of chilies at local favorite Zhang Mama (RMB 20). Yunnan
bridge rice noodles,” one of Yunnan’s specialties, comes as a piping-hot soup with ingredients including raw vegetables and lightly-cooked meats, to be added to the steaming broth separately. Ingredients cook quickly with a layer of schmaltz and oil on top. One of Beijing’s best places to try this dish is In and Out. Their version is flavorful and fresh (RMB 68). Xinjiang
cha siu bao, jing yaa tang Mandarin Fish This dish consists of white fish steamed to perfection with fresh root ginger, spring onions, soy sauce, and coriander garnish. Try a sweet and sour rendition of it (RMB 168) at Jin Ding Xuan, a 24-hour Cantonese restaurant with branches throughout the city.
yunnan Goat cheese Goat Cheese Yunnan goat cheese, known as rubing, is a must-order at Yunnan restaurants. The cheese is baked in spices to add that extra touch, but will still satisfy your cheese cravings. Try the version at Dali Renjia (RMB 28).
koushuiji, transit Koushuiji This mouth-watering starter of boiled chicken in a spicy sauce is the perfect Crescent Moon Muslim Restaurant Daily 11am-11.30pm. 16 Dongsi Liutiao, Dongcheng District (6400 5281) 弯弯的月亮：东城区东四六条16号 Dali Renjia Daily 10.30am-11pm. 80 Baochao Hutong, Dongcheng District (8402 2479) 大理人家：东城区宝钞胡同80号 In & Out Daily 11am-10pm. 1 Sanlitun Beixiaojie, Chaoyang District (8454 0086)
guoqiao mixian, in & out Crossing the Bridge Noodles Guoqiao mixian, or “crossing the 一坐一忘：朝阳区三里屯北小街1号 Jianghu Weidao Daily 11.30am-10.30pm. 26 Dongsi Beidajie, Dongcheng District (5710 8890) 疆湖味道：东城区东四北大街26号 Jing Yaa Tang Dim Sum Hours Mon-Fri 12-2.30pm, Sat-Sun 11am2.30pm. B1, The Opposite House, Sanlitun Village, 11 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District (6410 5230) 朝阳区三里屯路11号太古里北区地下1层
nangbaorou, jianghu weidao Nangbaorou This dish is pretty hard to screw up: it is basically crunchy, fried pieces of bread with chunks of tender lamb, peppers, onions, and plenty of Xinjiang spices such as cumin, chili, and pepper. The rendition at Jianghu Weidao (RMB 28) will ensure that you never want to eat anything else again. Dapanji Dapanji is an easy dish to share with friends. The chicken with potatoes and root vegetables is hearty and will leave you pining for more. The Crescent Moon version of this dish is well balanced and full of flavor (RMB 55/large portion, RMB 48/small portion). Jindingxuan (Tuanjiehu) Open 24 hours. 15 Tuanjiehu Nanlu, Chaoyang District (400 6766 111) 金鼎轩：朝阳区团结湖南路15号 Transit Daily 6-10pm. N4-35, Sanlitun Village North, 11 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District (6417 9090) 渡金湖：朝阳区三里屯路11太古里北区N4-36号 Zhang Mama (Jintai Lu) Daily 10.30am-10pm. 21B Jintai Lu, Chaoyang District (5624 1717) 张妈妈川菜：朝阳区金台路口南乙21号
Exploring Beijing’s Many Hotpot Options By Robynne Tindall
photo courtesy of okra, Flickr
or many, hot pot in the Haidilao genre brings to mind images of sweating and frequent trips to the loo. We’re not saying this isn’t the case, and while we’re also not saying that you should give up on Sichuan-style hot pot altogether, there are plenty of alternative hot pot options out there for those who value their digestive system. We thought we’d explore some of the other hot pot options available in Beijing, from fragrant Yunnan, to off-the-wall Korean.
Yunnan mushroom hotpot The many fragrant herbs and spices of Yunnan cuisine are put to good use in the broth at Xiangcao Xiangcao Yunnan Hotpot, which is available in up to five spicy and non-spicy variants. The mushroom soup is good enough to be drunk by itself, which you are encouraged to do. Yunnan cuisine is also well-known for its mushrooms; Xiangcao Xiangcao flies theirs in direct from Yunnan, which, along with the wide array of tofu options, makes it a good choice for vegetarians. Coconut chicken hot pot Chicken doesn’t often make a showing at standard hot pot dinners, making chicken-specialists Pengran Siji a boon for fans of the bird. Pengran Siji specializes in coconut chicken hot pot. A whole, jointed chicken is simmered in a Hainan-style soup base made with coconut water, then the cooked chicken is dipped in a sauce of chili, soy, and calamansi. A light and fresh alternative to Sichuan hot pot and the location on the east Third Ring Road is very practical. Japanese shabu shabu Of the range of hotpot-like dishes known collectively as nabemono, shabu shabu is most akin to hot pot as we know it in China – it is name after the swishing sound made when thin cuts of meat are swept through hot broth for a few seconds at a time. Okra’s version of this traditional Japanese-style hot pot (pictured left) comes with black fin tuna, kanpachi, salmon, scallop, white fish, natural Chilean wagyu beef, seasonal organic vegetables, onsen tamago Barsak Chicken and World Beer Daily 10am-2am. 2/F, Korean food City, 423, 4 Wangjing Xiyuan, Chaoyang District (6475 5754) 吧沙酷：朝阳区望京西园4区423号韩国美食城2层 Huoluhuo (Wudaokou branch) Daily 11am-10pm. 1/F, Wudaokou Guoji Meishi Shangyuan, Haidian District (5849 9836) 火炉火年糕火锅：海淀区五道口国际美食尚苑1层
(slow-cooked egg), and udon noodles, all designed to be dipped into the steaming broth (RMB 248). Luxurious eaters can upgrade to a set featuring black fin tuna and toro, and Chilean wagyu beef for RMB 448. Korean jeongol / jjigae Jeongol refers to a type of elaborate soup or stew in Korean cuisine. Jeongol are similar to the popular Korean stews called jjigae, with the main difference being that jjigae are usually named after a single ingredient (such as kimchi jjigae or sundubu (soft tofu) jjigae), while jeongol usually contain a variety of main ingredients, such as seafood. Unlike Chinese-style hotpot, the ingredients are presented at the table already in the pot and then heated on a gas burner, rather than being dipped in the base individually. Some of our favorites include budae jjigae, or “army base stew,” and glutinous rice cake hot pot (niangao huoguo), with the rice cakes cooked in a spicy soup. City-wide chain Huoluhuo is the most popular place to sample this dish. Fondue Europe isn’t lagging behind when it comes to dipping pieces of something into liquid something else. The first recipe for fondue as we know it (i.e. a big, bubbling pot of cheesy goodness) comes from 1875, but the dish really gained momentum when it was promoted as the Swiss national dish by the Swiss Tourism Board in the 1930s. Try it at Beijing’s only Swiss restaurant, Swiss Taste, where the cheese is imported directly from Switzerland.
Okra Daily 6-10.30pm (dinner), 6pm-midnight (cocktails). 1949: the Hidden City, Courtyard 4, Gonti Beilu, Chaoyang District (6593 5087) 朝阳区工体北路4号院
Swiss Taste Daily 11am-10pm. 101, Bldg 18, Central Park, 6 Chaoyangmen Waidajie, Chaoyang District (6597 9229) 瑞士餐厅：朝阳区朝阳门外大街6号新城国际18号 楼101室
Pengran Siji Chicken Hotpot Daily 11am-10pm. 2/F, Borui Dasha, 26A Dongsanhuan Beilu, Chaoyang District (6516 7211) 烹然四季椰子鸡火锅：朝阳区东三环北路甲26号博 瑞大厦2层
Xiangcao Xiangcao Yunnan Hotpot Daily 9am-10pm. 2/F, Yufei Dasha, 42 Dongzhimen Waidajie, Dongcheng District (6416 5255) 香草香草云南生态火锅：东城区东直门外大街42号 宇飞大厦2层
Hutong Hawkers The Fading Food Trade of Beijingâ€™s Vagabond Salesmen By Tom Arnstein
I first notice that the several shangfan that mosey down my alley throughout the day provide an invaluable service to the older, less mobile members of the community and the businesses in the greater neighborhood, often working in one specific trade and covering enough ground to make their choice of living practical. I wonder how they assign their elusive routes and find to my surprise that rather than heading out to track them down, it would have been more fruitful had I merely waited to pounce on them from my front door. Nevertheless, in the surrounding area I encounter recyclers (the aforementioned half-man, half-cockerel), knife sharpeners, handymen, and suppliers of various wares and consumables, ranging from house utensils and fans to produce and eggs.
photos: tom arnstein
ike clockwork, I awake to the heather light of a dawn in the hutongs and the gruff call of a shangfan, or street vendor, gently rolling on his bicycle, bellowing into the siheyuan as he passes. I curse him, hope he takes a sick day tomorrow, and roll over to bag an extra 30 minutes of sleep. However, despite my personal issues with his antisocial work schedule, the lone manâ€™s particular routine intrigues me enough to investigate his trade and apparently austere means of subsistence, remains of which have long vanished in my home country. In an attempt to learn more, I take to the arteries between Beixinqiao and Zhangzizhong Lu to explore the overlapping roles that shangfan play in the fabric of hutong food culture.
The hawkers employ various methods to secure the attention of nearby residents and restaurants. Some are lucky enough to peddle food inherently fragrant and alluring, such as the ubiquitous subway sweet potato man. Others opt for a tried and tested battle cry, or yaohe, that through years of repetition has gnarled into something entirely incomprehensible but wholly distinctive – all gut and throat – ensuring recognition through the dense hutong warren. These unique hollers can be recorded and played through a loudspeaker for those less inclined to tear their larynx to ribbons. Few still employed instruments, or xiangqi, a method primarily lost to a Beijing past, which are either struck or shaken, generating a unique chime of clank so as to also be identifiable by trade to the prospective customer. Despite their differences in approach, each individual, whether providing a specific skill or commodity that centers around eating or collecting the byproducts of consumption in the form of refuse and recyclables, hopes to tap into a localized market with a loyal audience that seeks their expertise. Unfortunately, one uniting opinion among the recyclers and food sellers that I spoke to was that business was dwindling and significantly worse than even a year ago. Trade opportunities are likely shrinking, in part due to the ease and convenience of online shopping. Many are also feeling the bite from the growing number of larger, more diversified fruit markets and the perceived quality and customer relations that each of these more polished outlets provide. Manning his sanlunche, which doubles as a portable storefront and saving on the additional rent that such a space would require, one apple vendor described how it was no longer viable for him to truck the fruit in from his family-owned orchard in the suburbs of Beijing, as business had shrunk in the three short years since he had become a street hawker, adding that his job, “lacks any prospects.” He put his waning income down to people
no longer bulk-buying fruit, foregoing home-cooked meals, and opting to eat out instead. Likewise, a life-long mandarin seller nearby told of how on bad months she barely secures enough money to cover rent and she doesn’t dare change professions, commenting on her low education and a lack of the capital that it would require to invest in a new project. Winter hardships have also taken their toll – migrants have returned home and fewer potential patrons mill the hutongs. The added pressures of increasing government control on retail and public space have also put the street merchants’ livelihood in danger, with chengguan – urban management officials – often making the rounds to chase unlicensed hawkers away. The unlucky will receive a fine of a few hundred yuan – on average a tenth of their monthly takings – not crippling but enough of a pinch to make them think twice about returning and securing their place as a trusted vendor. It is for these reasons that the fate of Beijing’s shangfan hangs in the balance, their occupations squeezed between slumping demand, growing regulations, and the feasibility of a singular, often seasonal trade paying the bills year-round. Even from just a handful of anecdotes, it’s hard not to imagine the reverberation of the few xiangqi that remain as a death knell for a hardy but fading occupation. For that reason, I still curse my early morning recycling man but I also hope to hear him make his rounds come spring. To hear reconstructions of various xiangqi and other aural artifacts of old Beijing, visit the Beijing Sound History Project’s permanent exhibition at the Shijia Hutong Museum (Tue-Sun 9.30am-4.30pm. 24 Shijia Hutong, Dongcheng District). Additional translation by Patrick Li.
The Tune of
Your Food Picking the Right Music for Your Dining Experience By Kipp Whittaker
n Beijing’s restaurants, we get our fair share of strange sounds at the dinner table. Everything from sad, crooning boys wielding acoustic guitars on Guijie to painted ladies singing folk songs while acrobatically spinning fabric on their fingers at Dongbei restaurants, it’s all available to make your dining experiences just a tad more awkward. Elsewhere, blogs seem to pop up daily recommending the latest and greatest songs to pair with your ceviche or lava cake. Despite the popularity of food and music pairings, the fact of the matter is nothing is more subjective and difficult to influence than musical tastes. Certain elements of these combinations definitely ring true. Playing the right music not only complements a meal but can also elevate the dining experience to new levels by engaging all the senses. Much like the first time I bit into a flaky spring roll while listening to a pan flute version of “My Heart Will Go On” (Gheorghe Zamfir) at my childhood Thai restaurant. We couldn’t afford to bring in someone who possesses the neurological disorder known as lexical-gustatory synesthesia (a person who can taste sound) and systematically savor our selection of music and food pairings. However, we were able to create a list of successful tips to make sure the playlist you choose is complementary to whatever food you are serving. The Case for Authenticity The first pro tip might seem a little obvious, but why not pick music from the country or region where the food originates? This to us makes a little more sense than just laying down a generic house track, which seems to be all the rage. Not only is this the easiest way to make sure that the music fits the atmosphere, but it also creates an aura of authenticity to the feast, which is always desirable. For example, when you think of hamburgers or pizza, what comes to mind instantly is rock or punk music. The food recalls those 80s teen movies where kids are constantly hanging outside their favorite greasy burger joints listening to Hall & Oates or The Ramones. Cheesy grease and raw energy were made to be consumed in unison.
Cooke or Nina Simone in movies and television, to know that thy generate a particular response from the listener that is generally pleasurable and, when heard in a restaurant, usually results in a delightfully smooth dining experience. Ask yourself if you could imagine this song being used in a soundtrack to a major motion picture? If yes, then it should probably work perfectly to aurally enhance the dining experience of your guests. Or just download every Motown or soul compilation that you can find, and you are guaranteed to have no complaints about the music. Don’t Play Too Loud There needs to be a healthy volume, loud enough to hear but still a comfortable level for conversation. On the other hand it can’t be low enough that you can overhear the conversations of other tables in the restaurant. It’s a fine balance, but it must be maintained. In a perfect world, you would have somebody with a hand constantly on the dial, but that is essentially a DJ’s job. Too many times we’ve been to restaurants that were playing not only terrible music but also music that was at an earsplitting level that just wasn’t necessary. On the other end of the spectrum, maybe the music was too low, and we were forced to listen to the sounds of a total sleazebag trying a little too hard to woo his date into submission (gross). Repetition Should Be Avoided Make sure that your playlist is long enough so that a dinner won’t hear the same song twice, or just use Xiami, Spotify, or some other web-based platform that will keep going infinitely. This too is risky because the well being of your ambiance is put into the hands of a taste making algorithm. Don’t be afraid to just find a local music nerd and commission him or her to make a never ending playlist. One time I was at an Italian restaurant with the most delicious selections and they were playing Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”, which is an appropriate pairing but it was a scratched CD and played on repeat, which instantly turned the experience into an Italian themed nightmare from the mind of Wes Craven.
Play the Classics These are the songs that have stood the test of time and have successfully woven themselves into the cultural fabric of music appreciation. We have been conditioned through hearing these tracks, from legends like Sam
On the Vine
Where Seasoned Wine Lovers Indulge Their Passion
photo courtesy of china world summit wing
andcrafted cocktails and local brews are big in Beijing bars, but wine is still as popular as ever. Hereâ€™s our pick of venues for kicking your inner sommelier into full gear and at a variety of prices to suit all budgets. These restaurants range from casual to upscale, cozy to sprawling, local to internationally focused, so they should appeal to just about anyone who has a lust for vino. Prepare yourself to sip and swirl with some of the best wine lists in town.
Temple Restaurant Beijing (TRB) A prime example of what Beijing’s wine scene has become in recent years can be experienced at this legendary establishment. TRB is known for not only their elegant food but also their more than ample wine list, voted Beijing’s best wine list in the 2015 Beijinger Reader Restaurant Awards. With a constantly growing cellar of over 700 different bottles, they are essentially ground zero for finding whatever you are looking for. Their complete list is also on the web, so via TRB-wine.com, you can order and have your favorite wines delivered to you in 90 minutes or less anywhere within the Fifth Ring Road. We like to see them going the extra mile (or kilometer) to make all of your wine fantasies come true. Daily 11:30am-2:30pm, 6-10pm. 23 Songzhusi Temple, Shatan Beijie, Dongcheng District (8400 2232) 东城区沙滩北街嵩祝寺23号
Yolanda’s Secret This personal favorite is an unpretentious place to enjoy some nicely-priced selections mainly from independent and small batch vineyards from around the world. Most of their selections are either organic or likely imported to China for the first time through the bar’s proprietor, so expect something a little different and more casual than other more formal establishments on this list. Make sure to check them out for their very generous happy hour as well where they feature four glasses of their house wine for RMB 100. That’s a beautiful, and slightly dangerous, deal if you ask us. Tue-Sun 2pm-late, closed Mondays. 1-101, 38 Sanlitun Nan, Chaoyang District (131 4653 0019) 朝阳区三里屯南38号楼1-101
Capital M Their long list of wines and one of Beijing’s most scenic locations the south side of Tiananmen Square, make this a destination for any wine lover. Take advantage of Capital M’s abridged list to take the stress out of searching through their novellalength menu of selections from around the world. For those of you into organic and sustainably farmed brands, there is also plenty for you to imbibe. There’s a slight emphasis on Australian vineyards at Capital M given the restaurant’s ownership, but there are also plenty of French classics available by the glass or carafe. Mon-Fri 11am-2.30pm, 6-10.30pm, Sat-Sun 11.30am-5pm, 6-10.30pm. 3/F, 2 Qianmen Pedestrian Street, Chongwen District (5722 3061) 崇文区前门步行街2号3层
Grill 79 As one of the top (literally) international hotel restaurants in Beijing, sitting on the 79th floor of the China World Trade Center, this jewel hovering above the Beijing skyline offers over 600 wine options, along with 14 wines by the glass. Their selection has a focus on premium new world wines, but there is a heck of a lot to choose from, including a pair of wines (a Chardonnay and a Cabernet) from China’s Grace Vineyard, if you want to get a taste of China’s wine industry. All of the wines available here are also available at neighboring bar Atmosphere, along with an even lengthier wine list and delicious cocktails to match. Mon-Fri 2pm-2am, Sat-Sun noon-2am. 79/F, China World Summit Wing, China World Trade Center Phase 3, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District (6505 2299 ext 6424) 朝阳区建国门外大街1号国贸大 酒店79楼
Mei A decent-sized wine bar with an impeccable menu made up of both Old and New World labels, including Dom Pérignon P3 1971, which can’t be found anywhere else in Beijing. The Rosewood brand received the Wine Spectator Award in August of 2014 and to celebrate, Mei have created a series of weekly themed tastings for amis du vin, which included a Sideways week where they featured a handful of hard to find California Pinot Noirs, and a Red Obsession week where they showcased their collection of Bordeaux. This kind of creativity from a hotel bar is something we would like to see more of. Mon-Wed 6pm-2am, Thur-Sat 6pm-3am, Sun 5pm-midnight. 5/F, Rosewood Beijing, Jing Guang Centre, Hujialou, Chaoyang District (6536 0083) 朝阳区呼家楼京广中心北京瑰 丽酒店5层
Brasserie FLO As one of Beijing’s top French restaurants (they received both “Outstanding”in the Best French Fine Dining and Best Wine List categories in the 2015 Beijinger Reader Restaurant Awards), you might not be surprised to hear that Brasserie FLO has an excellent wine list. It covers a wide range of French regions, including some from lesser-known appellations like Jura, Midi, and those of southwest France. Top Bordeaux wines are available, along with many affordable bottles at the other end of the list. Brasserie FLO’s annual appearance in the Best Wine List category shows that for many in China, French is still “best,” and in this case we feel it is justified. Daily 11am-3pm, 5.30-11pm. 18 Xiaoyun Lu, Chaoyang District (6595 5135) 北京福楼餐厅：朝阳区 霄云路18号
Beijing Weekday Where to get the most for your kuai from Monday to Thursday By Margaux Schreurs
Beer Mania: Movies and burger nights Every Monday, enjoy a movie with friends with specials at Beer Mania. Burgers are only RMB 40, Belgian fries are only RMB 20, and popcorn is RMB 20, between 8pm and midnight. Blue Frog: Burger Burger Now a Monday night classic, from 4pm until late, all burgers are buy-one-get-one free with the purchase of any drink, at all of their locations. Cuju: Sandwiches and starters half-price The Moroccan bistrot and rummery offers half-price on their sandwiches and starters all night on Mondays. Element Fresh: Buy-one-get-one-free salads Salads are buy-one-get-one free for members (free to sign-up) between 5-8pm every Monday at all of their locations. Luga’s Villa: Half-price pizza Half-price pizza every Monday from 5pm until closing. Trouble Bar: Burger deal Buy one burger and get the second one at half-price all day long on Mondays. Q Mex: Half-price burritos Half-price burritos every Monday from 5pm until closing. XL Bar: Half-price fillet steak Fillet steak is half-price throughout all of Monday.
Arrow Factory: Fish and Chips Tuesday RMB 60 for fish and chips, and RMB 80 for fish and chips with a pint of Arrow Factory beer. Caravan: Every Tuesday should be Mardis Gras All Cajun items are half-price on Tuesdays: vegan jambalaya, chicken po’boy, Ninth Ward etoufee, and Cajun chicken salad. Gung Ho: Two-for-one Tuesdays All pizzas are buy-one-get-one-free in store at Gung Ho!’s Sanlitun, Lido, and Shuangjing locations. Habanero: Burrito Tuesday Half-price chicken burritos at Habanero on Fangjia Hutong every Tuesday. Luga’s Villa: Half-price steak Half-price steak every Tuesday from 5pm until closing. On Tuesday’s Luga’s Villa also hosts a pool competition. Q Mex: Half-price pizza Half-price pizza every Tuesday from 5pm until closing. XL Bar: Half-price burgers Burgers are half-price throughout all of Tuesday. 4corners: Buy-one-get-one flatbreads 100 percent gluten-free flatbreads packed with unique flavors are buy-one-get-one free all of Tuesdays while stocks last.
photos courtesy of blue frog, caravan, mas, the local
montana burger, blue frog
Restaurant Deals Wednesday Blue Frog: It’s a Steak Out! From 4pm until late, enjoy a tender and juicy Australian imported Angus rib-eye steak with a bowl of soup and a glass of house wine at RMB 188. Godfathers: Pizza night Wednesday night get two beers or two glasses of house wine with a pizza for RMB 100. Offer starts at 5pm. The Local: RMB 3 chicken wings Get some of Beijing’s best wings at RMB 3 a piece (minimum order of 10) with a purchase of any drink between 5pm and midnight on Wednesdays. Choose from Buffalo, mildly spicy barbecue, and kung pao chicken wings. Luga’s Villa: Half-price tacos Half-price tacos every Wednesday from 5pm until closing. On Wednesday Luga’s Villa also has live music. Mas: 30 percent off food menu Hutong favorite Mas offers 30 percent off their food menu on Wednesdays. Q Mex: Half-price nachos Half-price pizza every Wednesday from 5pm until closing, and a pub quiz starting at 8.30pm. Slow Boat Brewery Taproom: Hamburger hump day Every Wednesday between 5-7pm, buy any burger and add a beer for only RMB 20. Two Guys and a Pie at Cuju Get any pie at RMB 30, RMB 50 with a Kirin, and RMB 60 with wine.
ife in Beijing can get pretty pricey, especially if you’re trying to expand your horizons and try new restaurants. That’s why we’ve taken a closer look at what is happening in terms of off-peak restaurant deals from Monday to Thursday at some of our favorite places. Visit thebeijinger.com/directory for full addresses and times of operation.
XL Bar: Half-price beef BBQ Beef BBQ is half-price throughout all of Wednesday.
Thursday Luga’s Villa: Half-price flautas Half-price flautas every Thursday from 5pm until closing. Taco Bar: Get a free taco with any drink Every day, get a free taco if you order an alcoholic drink between 5-7pm. Q Mex: Half-price steak, BBQ ribs, and Habanero chicken Half-price steak, barbecue ribs, and Habanero chicken from 5pm until closing. On Thursdays Q Mex also hosts a pool competition from 8.30pm until late. XL Bar: Half-price Andy’s craft sausages Andy’s craft sausages are half-price throughout all of Thursday.
wings, the local
Art of War
“Art of War Fighting Championship” to Be Held in Beijing January 16
Tiequan has won a number of mixed martial arts events and became the first Chinese person to enter the world’s top MMA event, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Government support for the movement has created a good environment for the development of MMA. In October 2014, the State Council stated that it would accelerate the development of the sports industry to encourage people throughout China to participate in sports. Bi Si’an said that he hopes to turn “Art of War” into an international brand through a series of events, welcoming MMA athletes, along with traditional martial arts, boxing, judo, and wrestling athletes. The organizers said that the January 16 event will be hosted by boxing legend Michael Buffer, with famous international MMA referee Yuji Shimada refereeing the matches. Bi Si’an said: “Compared to six years ago, the level of competition in China’s MMA field has greatly improved, and “Art of War” hopes to showcase that.” The Art of War will be held on January 16, 2016 at the National Olympic Gymnasium. Tickets and more information are available from Damai, en.damai.cn.
photo courtesy of the organizers
hina’s earliest professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) tournament is about to return. On December 16, “Art of War Fighting Championship” held a news conference at the Beijing Kerry Hotel. Founder Mr. Bi Si’an officially announced the return of the event for January 16, 2016. In 2005, Bi Si’an, who was the world’s leading integrated fighting master, founded “The Art of War” in Beijing. This English name comes from the famous Chinese military classic The Art of War by Sun Zi. Bi Si’an believes that China should also have a place in the rapid development of mixed martial arts around the world, since the country itself has a long history of martial arts. “The Art of War” will be the first time athletes from different fighting and wrestling styles will compete in front of a Chinese audience. This is the first and only mixed martial arts event approved by the Beijing Academy of Martial Arts. Over the past few years, MMA events have exploded in China, attracting international competitions. At the same time, the level of tournament athletics is also rising, attracting fighters from home and abroad, and also giving more Chinese fighters the opportunity to compete internationally. Former “Art of War” champion boxer Zhang
QUIT YOUR BELLYACHING DR. EDDIE CHEUNG ON HOW TO AVOID STOMACH BUGS
by Kyle Mullin
raveling around China can be fun and exciting, but it is also a crowded, chaotic and often-times messy affair – especially when it comes to food: if you aren’t careful, that savory looking chuan’r you scarf down in Xi’an or that sumptuous shellfish feast you polish off in Qingdao may come back to haunt you. Dr. Eddie Cheung knows these horror stories all too well. For over 40 years the head of Sanfine International Hospital’s Gastroenterology Department has treated countless patients suffering from digestive ailments in the US and now Beijing. Name a digestive disorder and Dr. Cheung can most definitely treat it. As a student he was mentored by Barry Blumberg, the Nobel Prize-winning doctor who not only discovered Hepatitis B, but also developed the tests and vaccines to treat the virus. Below Dr. Cheung gives his advice on what to be wary of when eating your way around China. Sichuan Spice: Can You Handle the Heat? The famously spicy and numbing peppers and peppercorns you find in Sichuan cooking can numb your tongue and burn your stomach. “If you dive right into eating them, your body might not be able to handle it,” Dr. Cheung comments. Over the years working in China, he has had to treat a number of patients who experienced unpleasant symptoms from unwittingly ingesting too much spices, “some even to the point of developing bleeding from the severe recurring retching and nausea.” Such cases may be extreme, but Dr. Cheung says that these super spicy dishes can give even the most intrepid and experienced travelers various stomach discomfort. Dr. Cheung says listening to your body and exercising caution are the best ways to avoid digestive issues. Allergy Sufferers: Don’t Play Chicken with the Sea Seafood is everywhere in China’s coastal cities. Most of it looks pretty darn tempting, but do you really know what and how much your body can handle?
“Eating seafood in China can be problematic,” says Dr. Cheung, who explains that anyone with seafood allergies should be especially careful when eating in seaside cities like Qingdao, Xiamen or Sanya. “It’s always a good idea to bring along a Chinese friend to request that there’s not something in the dish, like shellfish, that could cause allergic reactions.” Dr. Cheung also suggests that all travelers bring along antihistamines, like Benadryl, before indulging in seafood feasts. Beware of “Greased Lightning” When You Chomp on that Chuan’r As with the mala dishes found in Sichuan, Dr. Cheung warns that chuan’r can have a fiery kick that might leave unaccustomed foodies winded and incapacitated. “Sometimes chuan’r are covered in strong spices and the meats are not cooked properly,” he says. Dr. Cheung suggests trying an initial bite or two, “and if your body tells you ‘Hey, go ahead,’ then gradually ease into it. Try a bit more the next day, and then a have a bigger portion the day after that if all goes well.” “Liver Worst”: How to Avoid Hepatitis on the Road Dr. Cheung says that while catching Hepatitis is relatively rare, you should still watch what you eat and drink when traveling around China “Most viruses are not food related for the most part, but Hepatitis A can be contracted from contaminated food or from water like ice cubes.” Dr. Cheung says it is a good idea to check the news for Hepatitis outbreak warnings in the regions you plan on visiting, and warns that ice cubes, drinking water, and even swimming pools can all be risky. Keep these tips and warning in mind so you can enjoy a safe and healthy journey during this October break. Your stomach will thank you. An extended version of this article originally appeared on thebeijinger.com as a sponsored post for Sanfine International Hospital.
Ministry of culture
A Guide for the Convenience Store Gourmand By Morgan Short
ello, my friends. Here we are at last, on the esteemed back page of the Beijinger. Welcome, welcome.
I’m on the back page of the Beijinger — the seat of power — and if you yourself, dear reader, are like the majority of our readers, you yourself are also on a “seat of power”: the porcelain throne. Don’t think I don’t know. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: You’ve already wiped your ass with the entire issue and there you are with this one final page — this one scrap of salvation — gripped tightly in your sweaty palm. You’re only just skimming these words now before sending them in a shaky hand down, down between your legs. Sound familiar? Might I say it seems like not only are you are a veteran of this fine publication, but also of the fine dining establishments in our city. Truly, you’re living the most Beijinging-est life you can possibly Beijing. In honor of our “Restaurant Hall of Fame” issue and as an attempt to be vaguely useful in the last remaining seconds before being directly useful, here are a few things I know about dining in Beijing and a few tips from a pro on how to snack like one. Lower Your Expectations There is nothing “good to eat” at the convenience store. Everything is good-for-only-right-now-good, bad-good, bad-bad, and rapture-bad. That’s the entire scale. You’re looking for “good for right now good” — Doritos, the Japanese donuts, Magnums, the booze that comes in glass skulls. Just satisfy whatever cravings you have without thought. Actually, that’s a key way to live your life too. Know Your Pairings
A drinks pairing is crucial with snacks. If you’re going salty, I recommend “sports drink” or “vitamin drink” — Pocari Sweat or Power Ade. Whenever I go sweet snack I go with A-Ha Ice Coffee to complement. Makes me feel cultured, like Italian or something. I like people to see me drinking it. It conveys that I am a person of inner worth, richness, and accountability. Don’t Fear the Fridge Dinners Are they good? Good lord, no, but the chow mein one at 7-Eleven is only 50 percent straight-up poison and also goes great with the all-in-one salad they also have there. Don’t forget about the hot foods section, either. It might look like the cafeteria at an illegally-run old folks home, and oh man it definitely tastes like it as well, but it won’t kill you. Kinda. There’s No Such Thing as “Empty Calories” Exactly. Forget all that nonsense right now. Well … maybe there is, hang on, let me Google it. Oh. Yeah. There it is. Noun: “calories derived from food containing no nutrients.” Huh. Hey, Live a Little I’m of the opinion that the main joy of traveling and living in strange and wondrous lands is experiencing their convenience store culture, really diving into the 2,000-plus years of glorious history and culture available at, say, the local 7-Eleven. We’re citizens of the world — Dutch chocolate, American vitamin drink, Japanese instant noodles, Korean ice cream, and Chinese cigarettes, although 7-Eleven doesn’t sell the latter anymore. Anyway, that’s enough for now. Hey, that wasn’t that hard, doing this column! Tune in next issue for … umm … let’s just pencil in “hardcore Kaiser Kuo slash fiction pornography.”
The Dining Hall of Fame: Meet the Inaugural Class