Beijing Restaurant Review: Kuan's Bar & Dining

By Noelle Mateer, January 27, 2017

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When it comes to alleys, Taipingzhuang Nanli is pretty bumping. It’s home to the Big Smoke, BBC and Frost (who goes to Frost?). A smattering of lunch spots, varying in their chicness, are just around the corner on Xingfucun Zhonglu – O’Steak, Rollbox and that other Vietnamese place that doesn’t do banh mi as well as Rollbox. You know the one we’re talking about. 

A newcomer to this scene is Kuan’s. If we had to describe Kuan’s in three words, we’d say “nice little spot.” The slender dining room and bar, swathed in neutral tones, reminds us of a back alley French bistro, the sort you might see clinging to a horseshoe bend of a Provencal lane. It’s modern, but not too modern. It’s casual, but not too casual. It’s… je ne sais quoi. This is all to say: We’re not sure exactly what Kuan’s is, other than vaguely, casually cool.


Then again, strong brand identities are unnecessary, so long as the food speaks for itself. But, like, does it? We begin with duck rillettes (RMB52, in a mason jar, because duh) and brittle bread crisps. A note on duck rillettes: They are never not a good choice. These are no exception.

Our mains, meanwhile, are rough around the edges. Our slow-cooked lamb shoulder (RMB88) is a study in juicy tenderness, but piled unceremoniously atop rather bland paparadelle. And our wild mushroom risotto (RMB86) is hearty, but too savory and lacking complexity.


Both are good overall, and if Kuan’s were somewhere less happening, we would piss ourselves in delight. But Kuan’s is in Sanlitun, where RMB120 can get you a multi-course lunch set with prosecco at Bottega, a burger and two beers at Great Leap and six – yes, six – banh mis at Rollbox. In Beijing’s culinary wonderland, why choose Kuan’s? 

Still, we’re hoping Kuan’s leans into that lamb shoulder and becomes an irresistibly sexy beast. But unfortunately, at the moment, it looks more like becoming the nice guy who finishes last.

See a listing for Kuan's Bar & Dining & read more Beijing Restaurant Reviews

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