There are so many new bars and restaurants opening up in Beijing every month that sometimes even we find it difficult to keep up. Need a refresher? Here's a roundup of all the new restaurant and bar openings we featured in our December 2016 issue.
Lau Pa Sak's brand-new Sanlitun SOHO location looks like it's been around for 30 years. This is not a compliment. The hefty chicken leg curry, meanwhile, is a dish worth both the money and the fluorescent yellow stains it made on our sweaters. That one is a compliment.
See a listing for Lau Pa Sak
Sulyi is a modern Korean restaurant in Sanlitun’s Topwin Center, and it is as chic as its address might suggest. Sulyi serves all manner of dishes – bite-sized tofu quesadillas, fluffy potato pancakes with daikon, jumbo prawns drizzled with house-made sauce. Sulyi offers a variety of small plates, Korean tapas if you will, but do not let them distract you. Here’s how we best suggest you tackle this place: Go with a group. Order small plates to share. And, as is the Korean way, toast soju as many times as your liver can handle. (The grapefruit variety is dangerously good.) And once your stomach and liver are sufficiently warmed, get the stews going.
See a listing for Sulyi
Saigon Mama was imported from our equally sleek and splashy sister city to the south. And Saigon Mama, well – it’s a solid option. Its expansive menu features generous portions of Vietnamese comfort food at bargain prices. Take the classic beef pho (RMB58), for example – a massive bowl of what is quite possibly the best pho we’ve had yet in Beijing. The Vietnamese spring rolls are bursting with fresh shrimp, and the fried egg rolls are close to perfect (RMB45). The Vietnamese chicken salad is refreshing with house seafood dressing on top (RMB45), and the fish-tofu pancakes (RMB45) are a delightful snack to go along with all of the above. There are some minor disappointments – the seafood soup (RMB68) underwhelms, while the banh mi (RMB55) is not for the faint of heart.
The InterContinental’s third-floor restaurant, Top Tapas, is a genuine contender; a higher-end offering of small bites and hearty mains, complete with the lofty view one now expects in south Sanlitun. The tapas menu favors focus over breadth. It centers on croquettes (RMB66-RMB90), terrines (RMB69-RMB106) and a selection of ornate bread snacks marked ‘Crusty & Tender.’ Toppings on the latter hint at the class of cuisine on offer – think mushroom ragout with black truffle (RMB78), tuna belly tartar and oyster mayo (RMB113) and smoked eggplant with sea urchin (RMB93). By and large, these bold combinations work excellently. The tapas here are creative and far more filling than their delicate presentation would suggest.
Bars & Brewpubs
Contrary to what its name might have you believe, High Town is merely on the second floor (that's ‘first floor’ for you non-Americans). The new brewery – one floor above Moka Bros, one below Mosto – might be the clearest sign yet that craft beer culture has gone mainstream. The large space, replete with industrial-chic trappings – because obviously – adds a little yeast to Nali Patio’s already boozy mix.
READ MORE: The Best Craft Beer Joints in Beijing
See a listing for High Town
Steamrhino brews some good beer, and is therefore worth checking out. The Guardian IPA (RMB40) is good – and the rest of the beers are mostly solid as well. The key words there are “mostly solid” – Steamrhino is no Slow Boat. But it’s more than some dude’s side project (trust us, we’ve seen a lot of hobbyist breweries pop up over the past year). At Steamrhino, we learn that professional-level craft beer can be produced outside the confines of industrial-chic spaces with alt-rock soundtracks. Food, meanwhile, is a series of amateurish attempts at Western pub grub.
Is Beijing finally turning from the grain to the grape? There’s been a bunch of new wine bars opened this year, but Fú is the only one with a completely organic selection. As well as new- and old-world wines, this chic and unexpectedly intimate three-story hutong joint also serves tapas, salads and cold cuts. Fú opened just as we went to press, but the opening party hinted at good things to come.
See a listing for Fú
Think of Vesuvio as Bottega’s hip little loft – a great place to go before a meal at Bottega, or after a meal at Bottega or, you know, in between meals at Bottega. Maybe this isn’t a wine bar, per se – Vesuvio also specializes in customizable Negronis. But the hefty wine options, presented alongside an adorable map of Italian wine regions, offer something for almost every budget and palette. Think RMB70-RMB100 for wines by the glass, and bottles from RMB300. There are Italian cold cuts. But also – do not leave without trying the delectable little cheese pillows (‘Pane Parmigiano,’ RMB40).