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 May 2017 issue (out now).
A hip, stainless steel build-your-own-burrito bar, blasting an upbeat pop soundtrack and serving chips in brown paper bags – where did The Mission get that idea? (Chipotle. They definitely got it from Chipotle.) The Mission’s burritos lack authenticity, and their cheese is distinctly waxy. But beggars can’t be choosers, and Beijingers are burrito beggars indeed. Add RMB10 for guac – your chips are gonna need it. The Mission is located in the China World Mall - which opened earlier this month - and is just one of many reasons to make a trip to Beijing's insane new mall.
Beijing has a copy of Nando’s. It’s called Peri-Peri, and it is convincingly Nando-like. If you’ve been to a branch of Nando’s, you’ll recognize it all. From the menu’s wording to the restaurant’s logo, it’s as if someone has just gone to Nando’s and copied everything they could. Originally from South Africa, Nando's serves Portuguese-style peri-peri chicken – and little else. Just like in real Nando’s, you can get a quarter, half or whole chicken. There are also chicken sandwiches and platters. There's even a shelf of peri-peri sauces that definitely haven’t been stolen from an overseas branch of Nando’s and brought to China in a suitcase. Weirdly, Peri-Peri also has pizza, pasta and a whole bunch of non-chicken items.
Home Grounds is simply Australian in the best of ways: It is chill, healthy and fun. It may be just below new gym/cult BaseFit, but we detect no holier-than-thou adherence to kale and quinoa. There are salads and smoothies here, sure – but there are also Tsingtao-battered fish and chips. And pancakes. And cocktails.
You may have seen Shanshi’s bizarre outer facade while drunkenly stumbling home from Slow Boat’s Sanlitun taproom, or worse, Hai Di Lao. It’s a wall painted to look like a bookshelf, sandwiched between two grubby fast-food restaurants. The no-real-door gimmick is pretentious when it comes to cocktail bars, but in the case of joints hawking chuan’r, it’s delightfully quirky. And that’s exactly what Shanshi is – a chaotic, odorous purveyor of spicy dips of the highest order. Slide open the ‘bookcase,’ and you’ll enter a world of fiery delights. Pick from all manner of snacks on sticks, including tofu, chicken wings, mushrooms and, of course, innards and offal. Your server will then cook them in the spiciest sauce you’ve ever tasted and then serve them to you, swimming in a large metal bowl of red liquid.
Located just a few meters from the French Embassy, Bistro 108 is as French as it gets. Bistro 108 plays upon the noble and distinctly French notion that multi-course meals ought not be a luxury, but rather a way of life. And they do this by serving quality French fare at agreeable price points. A relaxed, two-hour lunch break with a main, appetizer and, hell, let’s throw in a dessert – will run you less than RMB200. Bottles of wine are even more of a bargain (a bottle of rosé goes for just RMB98). Other dishes include pan-fried seafood (RMB58), foie gras (RMB198), pork terrine (RMB58), roast chicken (RMB68) and sesame-encrusted salmon (RMB148). And definitely order the chocolate lava cake (RMB38).
New look, same great taste. Longtime Chaoyang Park restaurant Alio Olio has reopened as La Rucola. Sure, they’re now named after the Italian word for ‘arugula,’ and there have been a few style updates, but much of the food has stayed the same. And that’s a very good thing. The base concept remains untouched: trattoria-style Italian food at reasonable prices: lasagna (RMB88), calzones (RMB98) and traditional wood-fired pizza (from RMB88). They offer an astounding variety, from salads and starters to pastas and mains. And there are even, believe it or not, cocktails.
Another month, another bespoke cocktail bar with a jazz soundtrack. This month, it’s Hoper (and a bunch of other places – we just don’t have room for them all). Menus are so last year, so tell Hoper’s bartenders what you like and they’ll create something on the spot for you. The drinks are fantastic, but slow – so don’t roll in with your entire crew.
This time last year, Beijing had practically zero wine bars. Now, we can rattle five off the top of our heads. And Yu Shi by Cartelei has brought the trend to Central Park. Wines start at RMB60 per glass, and the small, cozy space differentiates itself with a teahouse concept during the day.
Don’t let the Game of Thrones-esque logo fool you – Social Circle is not a rollicking medieval tavern, but rather a raging hellfire of despair. This small, oddly decorated spot sells bottled German beers from a fridge, as well as cocktails in disturbing neon hues. It’s best to stick to the beer, but if it’s a cold bottle of Franziskaner you’re after, you’re better off going to 7-Eleven. It’s just around the corner anyway.
One step inside PR’s stunningly hip, neon-accented barroom, and we feel a world away from the mediocre mall restaurants surrounding it. And then, when we sip a glass of house wine (RMB50), we’re really sold. The Italian vintage (RMB65) is the best house wine we’ve had in recent memory, and it’s just as unexpectedly bangin’ as this the bar’s decor, which features vintage typewriters and indie magazines. The sous-vide cocktails are out of this world. The Dazed – a red wine cocktail with vodka, vanilla and mango – is just as good as any drink from a Sanlitun bar. But at RMB75, it’s cheaper.
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