From Vietnamese to Thai to Malaysian, it looks like Southeast Asian food is actually becoming a thing in the capital. Here are our top picks for the best Southeast Asian restaurants in Beijing:
When it comes to Vietnamese food, Chu got it from his mama – and she can occasionally be spotted training cooks in his restaurant’s kitchen. But despite its name, Saigon Mama is no humble mom-and-pop shop. The Taikoo Li outlet is a sleek splash of bright colors and patterns. Its expansive menu features generous portions of Vietnamese comfort food at bargain prices: beef pho (RMB58), fresh spring rolls, fried egg rolls (RMB45), Vietnamese chicken salad (RMB45) and fish-tofu pancakes (RMB45).
Malacca Legend serves up excellent renditions of traditional and ethnic Malaysian classics, including coconut-and galangal-infused beef rendang, spicy laksa (noodle soup in a curry-coconut milk broth), fragrant nasi lemak (a traditional rice dish) and a wide selection of seafood dishes.
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As 4corners’ owner Jun Trinh once said in an interview with That’s Beijing, “I’m trying to make a menu that’s interesting. Everything is fresh and new and I’m making almost all of it myself. I’ve gotten to the point where I want to work with everything, if possible. Combine it all together without making too much of a mess of it.” The Vietnamese-Candian chef has managed to do just that. At 4corners you can get quite a few Vietnamese favorites – think pho, spring rolls and bahn mi. The menu also features an array of Western dishes from pizzas to carrot cake, and if you’re not hungry head to 4corners anyway for some live music.
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Part of what makes Susu so cool is its hidden hutong setting. Upon our first visit we accidentally stumbled into a family’s hutong home, thinking it was the restaurant. Awkward. But once we did find the actual restaurant (hint: it has a red door) we were immediately impressed by its impeccably decorated interior and intimate courtyard. Setting aside, it was the extensive menu and quality Vietnamese fare that sealed the deal for us. Susu serves up massive banh mi sandwiches, aromatic pho, excellent curries, minty-fresh spring rolls and an array of Vietnamese mains. Trust us, this one’s well worth seeking out. (Note that the restaurant is closed on Mondays.)
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Pak Pak is the brainchild of Susu owners Amy Li and Jonathan Ansfield. But instead of Vietnamese, this time around they turned their culinary prowess to Thai food. Expect a range of Thai classics, from pad thai to tom yum soup and pineapple fried rice – and don't leave without trying the Thai iced tea.
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This Xingfucun Zhonglu spot makes some of the best Vietnamese sandwiches in Beijing. And for under RMB30 each, they just might be the best Vietnamese sandwiches in Beijing. Rollbox keeps things simple: a chalkboard menu of sandwiches (RMB18-30), plus quality Thai milk teas to wash them all down.
This two-story restaurant – revamped, renamed and under new ownership – offers a wide choice of excellent Southeast Asian fare, from curry to a Thai paella (Thai-ella?). If classics are a fair test of a restaurant’s character, the chicken coconut soup, beef salad and fish cakes (all RMB68) sing with well-balanced flavor. But the tom yum kung seafood hotpot (RMB258) is the real find at this bazaar.
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