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 January 2017 issue.
Salad University is conveniently located in the nexus of expat life, Xingfucun Zhonglu. This is a salad bar in the classic sense. Choose a base green – or a couple if you’re feeling wild – and then add toppings. The following is a list of healthy-ish things on display: edamame, chickpeas, eggs, dried cranberries, walnuts, grilled chicken, beans. After these come a selection of salad dressings. A medium salad, for which you can choose 10 toppings will run you RMB38, ultimately a solid deal. A large salad, with 15 toppings, is RMB48.
Lin's Dining Lounge doesn’t want to be known as a vegetarian restaurant. It wants to be known as a restaurant that happens to cook without meat. From typical North Chinese fare to western classics (including potato gratin and an outstanding shepherd’s pie), the restaurant has produced a varied, yet incredibly consistent menu of meat-free cuisine. The chefs have also passed the stiffest test of vegetarian cooking: imitation meat. The mock sea whelks made from konjac, or ‘devil’s tongue’ (RMB38), are firm and muscular; the tofu ‘fish’ in chili oil (RMB188/218) retains bite while absorbing just the right amount of bracing spice. We ask diners of all persuasions to give Lin’s a chance. And if you're looking for more vegetarian and veg-friendly restaurants in Beijing, check out our full guide.
Let us first explain the poke bowl phenomenon: cube-shaped fish bits are served atop a bed of rice, as per Hawaiian tradition. Poke Inn, the latest addition to Sanlitun SOHO, is making a sad attempt to bring these trendy bowls to the capital. To be blunt, we are less than impressed. Poke Inn is a tiny, pastel-colored closet of a restaurant with a small counter from which we choose our preferred poke (various sesame-based sauces on salmon, largely indistinguishable) and toppings (RMB48-78, depending on bowl size). The buffet features sad kimchi, miserable seaweed, despondent onions, and then some passable avocados that just need a couple more days to ripen. The whole experience is just sad. We predict a very short lifespan for Poke Inn.
Here’s what Beijing needs more of: Overpriced dessert shops. Blessedly for us and our wallets, that’s exactly what Berko is! This glossy white cottage, decked out like some rich girl’s dollhouse, serves sort-of-tasty cupcakes for RMB80 a pop. Imagine this: You could feed a family a hearty local dinner – or you could just take some cutesy pics for Instagram.
Soloist Coffee is no longer solo. The cafe has opened a third outpost, and if its address in the middle of Taikoo Li is any indication, third-wave coffee has arrived. This Soloist offers the same studiously-made espressos and pour-overs you may have (or ought to have) tried at its other locations, and the shop’s vintage church-like atmosphere is fitting for the piety with which the baristas make their brews. Our only issue is that antique chairs don’t make for the most comfortable seating.
When one Happi Sake closes (RIP, Jan 2016), another Sake Manzo opens. The latest branch is also the largest. A bar plus two floors of booths and private rooms, offer plenty of space for all the sake and umami hot pot you can eat. Minimalist Japanese-cool decor included.
Yet, another high-end cocktail lounge in Beijing. That being said, The Black Moth stands out from the rest because nothing at this bar is typical, from the entranceway that plays documentary narration about moths, to the main room’s decor – a hodgepodge of tiny sculptures and pop art. Indeed, the assortment of conversation starters on display here leads us to dub this place A Great Spot For a Date, albeit a date you’re willing to spend RMB100 per cocktail on. Make that RMB120, by the way, if it's the Truffle Martini you're after. We love the undeniably sultry Cumin Gin Sour (RMB85), the Hot & Numbing Margarita (RMB85) and the Mandarin Old Fashioned (RMB120).
The original Mao Mao Chong is one of Beijing’s defining hutong bars. The new Mao Mao Chong is... not in a hutong. Indeed, the new location, inside the sterile Guomao SOHO, feels like the opposite of hutong. But the drinks are just as bangin’ as we remember, and the location is godsend to anyone (everyone) working nearby. Oh – and there’s pizza all day long. At night, expect all your favorite MMC cocktails – plus a variety of Champagne options, a new addition for the CBD crowd.
No. 3 is in 3.3 Mall, get it? You’ll find this Mokihi (not to be confused with the other Mokihi, see below) on the top floor of this once-gaudy shopping center, in a secluded corner behind Mega Vintage. One might term this a ‘speakeasy.’ And yet, this Sanlitun local is veritably convenient. They serve up creative cocktails (from RMB80-95) with style and substance. Plus, it's home to the nicest bartenders you’ll ever meet. Make sure to try the Delay in M (RMB90), a classed-up gin-and-juice with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. Yeah, you heard us – parmesan.
That's right, there are two Mokihis. But this Mokihi is definitely not located in a shopping center. It's actually set in a garage in a random warehouse. You’ll feel like you’re about to be murdered when your cab stops at a nondescript row of warehouses somewhere near Sanyuanqiao. You’ll feel even more like a future homicide victim when you enter the unmarked garage in which this bar hides. But fear not, the cocktails are top-notch (from RMB75). Better yet, there are cheerful bartenders who will make you a drink based on your taste preferences (no menu, folks). Make sure to try the old-fashioned (RMB85 and up), made with whichever whiskey you like.