A roundup of all the latest bar and restaurant openings in Beijing.
Michelin! Everything is Michelin! We’ve lost count of the number of places that have touted their connections with the little red book (of restaurants). But Putien, whose original location in Singapore sports one star, is still a welcome addition to the capital. Its elegant, satisfying Fujian cuisine is taking over the city, and its newly minted third location sits proudly in Taikoo Li. Lunch sets are a bargain.
See a listing for Putien
Kowloon Ice House has all the hallmarks of a traditional Hong Kong tea restaurant: laminated menus, fluorescent lighting and, most importantly, tasty snacks like pineapple buns and egg tarts. There's also char siu (barbecued pork) and macaroni and ham soup – classic. Is Kowloon as good as fellow Hong Kong restaurant Honolulu Cafe, just down the road? No. But it is a cheap and colorful addition to Taikoo Li South.
See a listing for Kowloon Ice House
No, we are not reviewing the Israeli city of Tel Aviv (though if you’re a travel agent with a spare pair of tickets, hit us up). Tel Aviv is the latest concept by Hatchery, and while it isn’t made by any Israelis – it’s made by the Australasian team behind Beijing’s ‘culinary incubator’ – it’s a valiant take on Middle Eastern cuisine. Bread and dips (you better believe there’s fresh hummus) are the perfect light sharing plate – and roasted lamb brings the heft.
See a listing for Hatchery
If there is one trend that gives us hope about the hutongs’ future, it’s the steady stream of hip AF coffee shops opening therein, undeterred by rampant brickings that have pushed out their boozier counterparts. Such a Café is such a cafe, and its Zhangzizhonglu location makes it the best spot to sip lattes before catching a show Yugong Yishan (if that’s a thing).
See a listing for Such a Café
Vin Vie opened a new branch in South Sanlitun, just down the road from Haidilao and an adult store named SEXY TOWN. This is the bowels of Sanli, a long-forgotten strip of ancient establishments like Q Bar and Beer Mania. Vin Vie is homey in a way that makes it seem like it’s been around for years. Bookshelves full of wine bottles line the walls, and a brick fireplace befitting of an English country manor takes center stage. But you, my friend, are here for the food, which is French and Japanese with a smattering of Korean and even Spanish influences (there are small plates). The menu is a 10-page affair with everything from pork paté to Japanese sukiyaki, and every dish we try is excellent. It all makes for a surprisingly elegant dinner in a less-than-elegant part of town.
See a listing for Vin Vie
Earlier this year, Ramo became yet another casualty of Beijing's citywide brickings. So Ramo looked the other way – way up north, to Lido. Ramo’s new location is more Wangjing South than 798 Art District. It’s a major size upgrade – two floors and an outdoor patio – but the character remains the same. The colorful space is pet-friendly and the food is as delicious as always. The menu has expanded to include handmade pasta. The restaurant’s pizza and flatbreads are now made with imported flour and cheese, which sounds – and tastes – legit. The new Ramo is the perfect place to try it all – juicy classic beef burgers, barbecue wings, pickles, pizza... we promise we won't judge.
There’s a new bar that serves beer from Wuhan. The bar is Tiny, and this is huge. Tiny Taproom and Izakaya is the latest to join Beijing’s craft beer scene, and it serves beer from Wuhan’s Bubble Lab, which you can’t get anywhere else in the capital. These are serious beers. We in Beijing like to think we live in the craft beer capital of China – and, for the most part, we do – but Wuhan’s small scene is a credible threat to our title. The Bubble IPA is one of the best in the city. So get off your high horse, beer nerds – Bubble Lab makes brews on par with the best ones in Beijing.
See a listing for Tiny Taproom and Izakaya
If your fave bar happens to be Infusion Room – and it is many Beijingers’ fave bar – it’s easy to check out Bistro 3, as the Courtyard 4 newbie sits right beside it and even shares the same cocktail menu. Even if you’re not into speakeasies like Infusion Room, Bistro 3 is worth trying. The door opens automatically, without a password, and the dining experience would be singular even for non-drinkers. Ordered a la carte or via set menu, the European-style fare offers something for everyone. (Except vegetarians, who’ll have to make do with a couple of appetizers.)
See a listing for Bistro 3
One Third has all the trappings of a notorious Gongti club – a prime location on Gongti Xilu, metal detectors and squads of security guards at the entrance, hot girls parading around Champagne bottles, lit up with LED lights. But it’s also different. The drinks menu here is world-class, with holdovers from the owners’ days at former cocktail institution BBC (Bottle, Boot & Cigar). The club’s expert bartenders serve barrel-aged, well, everything – barrel-aged Hemingway Daiquiris (RMB110), barrel-aged Vieux Carrés (RMB130), barrel-aged Negronis (RMB90). Our barrel-aged Old Fashioned (RMB90) is excellent – as is our Coppertone Girl (RMB100, surprisingly not barrel-aged). We’re more used to sipping these kind of drinks to a subdued jazz soundtrack, not blaring EDM. But hey – after a couple whiskeys, the weirdness of it fades away.
See a listing for One Third
If the name sounds familiar, it’s because the new bar is a mash-up of two popular hutong bars that were bricked over during the local government’s ‘beautification’ campaign. But Capital Spirits and The Distillery are back – now, together. The new location is just across from the old ‘D,’ and considering the two were owned and operated by the same dudes, the merge makes a lot sense. Now, when your friends visit Beijing, you only have to stop at one place, where you can grab a Baijiu Sour (RMB40) for them and a martini (RMB60) for you. Altogether, it's an exciting start, yet the bar’s enduring appeal comes down to its lack of gimmickry. Sure, it’s “the baijiu bar,” and also “the gin bar,” but mostly, it’s just a damn fine place to spend an evening.
See a listing for Capital Spirits Bar and Distillery