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 February 2017 issue.
While Man Yo is Sushi Yotsuba’s down-market experiment, it still exudes good taste. And while it offers budget-friendly ‘lunch sets,’ said lunch sets include seven courses. In sum, Man Yo is Yotsuba’s attempt to hit a lower income bracket – just not that much lower. There’s more to Man Yo than sushi. In fact, there is no sushi at Man Yo whatsoever (although there are still sashimi platters, don’t freak out). The star of our meal is a whole roasted whitefish (RMB380), tender and practically glistening in its own gentle juices. We’re also enamored with the barbecue skewers and the gazillion-course lunch sets are unbelievably good value, at RMB80-150.
The Beijing Kitchen is the epitome of moneyed fast-casual on SKP’s nearly windowless sixth floor. Here you'll find quality dim sum at surprisingly good value. The black truffle streamed buns (RMB33) provide all the joy of truffle plus all the joy of steamed buns. The honey roasted cha shao pork (RMB76) is light and sweet. The best of the small dishes is the soup-stuffed dumpling (RMB39), aka the largest xiaolongbao we’ve ever seen. Dinner mains – also available at lunchtime – impress equally.
If we had to describe Kuan’s in three words, we’d say “nice little spot.” The slender dining room and bar, swathed in neutral tones, reminds us of a back alley French bistro. We’re not sure exactly what Kuan’s is, other than vaguely, casually cool. Our mains are rough around the edges. Our slow-cooked lamb shoulder (RMB88) is a study in juicy tenderness, but piled unceremoniously atop rather bland paparadelle. And our wild mushroom risotto (RMB86) is hearty, but too savory and lacking complexity.
This Thai restaurant’s seafood-heavy selection is genuinely superb. The two-story spot offers a wide choice of excellent Southeast Asian fare, from curry to a Thai paella. 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. Choose from tiger prawns, scallops, mussels and slices of delicate white fish (be warned: all are easy to overcook), and let them soak up the wonderful spicy-sour broth.
The Big Smoke
has given birth to Little Smoke. Although more in the way that an
amoeba might reproduce using the contents of its own body, given that
Little Smoke is attached to the Big Smoke, in a room that was once part
of the Big Smoke. Stop by for Jing-A beers and craft cocktails, plus a
newly designed snack menu featuring the god of all pub foods: mozzarella
sticks. Look up for a painting of a naked lady.
Mon-Fri 11am-midnight, Sat-Sun 11am-1am; next to The Big Smoke, see listing for details.
Yu Cafe on Chunxiu Lu takes minimalism to near sterility: all black-and-white decor, chairs of IKEA lineage, with only plants to set off the clinical feel. The slogan boasts snacks (which were in short supply), desserts and lifestyle (presumably ascetic). Snark aside, we can vouch for the quality of the coffee and apple pie.
See a listing for Yu Cafe
Whoever realized that Dongzhimen needed a Yunnanese restaurant – and then opened one – should be applauded. But whoever (and we accept that this may be the same person) allowed patrons to doodle all over the walls of said restaurant is, quite frankly, an idiot. The decision means that one-third of this otherwise charming hutong spot feels like a backpacker dive. The food is also hit-and-miss, though some of Yunnan’s classics have been done justice.
See a listing for Little Yunnan
The stairway to Heaven is actually a stairway to Tango KTV’s Gongti location, where Heaven Supermarket’s second, spiffier location currently resides. The new space has all the beers you love – including Goose Island IPA on tap – minus the sleaze of its original shop (which is still open, 24/7, of course). This Heaven opens at the respectable hour of 6pm – refreshing. Heaven used to feel like hell, but now it just feels like purgatory.
See a listing for Heaven Supermarket (Gongti)
At JW Tailor Bar you can get a well-made suit and a well-made cocktail but, as we discover on our visit, at no point can you get both at the same time. Practicality aside, this is, quite frankly, a disappointment. However, upon finding out the cost of a suit – around RMB10,000 – we’re cool with just the drink. Based on our preferences, co-owner Bruce suggests an Old-Fashioned and a Gin Basil Smash (RMB80 each). Whisky is the star at JW – we are told all of the fancy brands on offer – but the Gin Basil is the stuff of poetry, an earthy mouthful from your parents’ garden.
See a listing for JW Tailor Bar