For those living in Chaoyang Park, family-friendly joint Cravings is a familiar name. For those not living in Chaoyang Park, well, we wish the restaurant would move closer so we could get a taste of its artisan fusion fare more often. As if Cravings heard our longing call, the restaurant recently opened Cravings to Longfu, their newest concept specializing in Yunnan cuisine, a few blocks away from the new Jing-A Taproomnear Dongsi.
Located on the first floor of an office building, the new joint is decked out in true Cravings style. Bold yellows and greens accent the space, with funky art like vibrantly painted fruits, strangely shaped animals, and kitschy prints of chubby Chinese babies (you know the ones) plastered on the walls. Industrial piping and bright bulb lighting line the interior. A long bar for individual seating extends to the back with a few more lounge-style tables for bigger dining parties.
This place is worth the visit for the cold starters alone: the shredded chicken salad (RMB38) has a refreshing bite to it and the aromatic beef with fresh mint leaves (RMB48), served with a side of spicy soy sauce for dipping (or drizzling over the plate), is tender and light. The grilled pork neck (RMB38) is crispy and fatty, presented on a bed of pickled veggies with spicy garlic sauce to finish.
In our eyes, it’s sinful to dine at a Yunnan restaurant and skip the goat cheese (RMB48); Cravings serves the thick slices steamed with thin Yunnanese ham in a bowl of soft lima beans and a touch of simple broth (enhanced with juices from the ham, making it all the more flavorful the longer it sits). Another specialty on offer is a grilled whole fish (RMB88) with a beautiful array of spices and seasonings.
Rice noodles are a must: the classic is served in a bowl of warm chicken broth, with a second variant leveled up by Yunnan ragu (both RMB30). There are two sizes – a daintier individual bowl and a larger portion for sharing, though we prefer to think of it as hungry and hungrier.
The refreshing menu features healthy
drinks to match – coffee supplied by Big Small,
Yunnan teas, wine and juice. We knock back
(we mean, uh, elegantly sip on) a glass of
organic Italian white wine (RMB50), and opt
for a sweet and punchy tamarind juice soda
(RMB28) to finish off the meal. Dessert is a
traditional treat: a chilled tall mug of coconut
milk (RMB35) with toasted French bread, coconut shreds, mango and jelly.
Cravings to Longfu is dedicated to serving light and fresh Yunnan fare with subtle flavors that surprise the palate rather than overwhelm it. The tasty menu has also made its way to their original location, seeing Cravings fully returning to its Chinese roots.
[Images via Cravings]