Beijing moves fast. Like, really fast. One day you can bike past a decrepit area that will make you question why you ever moved in, then bike past it six months later with it looking like New York’s Williamsburg and wonder why you ever moved out. That’s exactly what happened to the Longfusi neighborhood. Set between the Zhangzizhonglu and Dongsi subway stations, the newly renovated compound is home to the second location of M Woods gallery, a Burton flagship store, Vietnamese eatery Susu and most notably, the newest Jing-A Taproom.
Walking into the roomy establishment, we sense an undeniable Brooklyn vibe with the taproom’s exposed brick walls, wooden and industrial furnishings, a vibrant mural (created by China-based artist Leon Fenster) and the overall hipster ambiance. It’s a blend of hutong diehards, business professionals and families with their kids – a place for anyone and everyone tucked into a nice nook of Beijing’s newest center.
Image via Aaron Berkovich - Peking Productions
With over 20 different beers on tap, plus a couple barreled cocktails too, there’s a brew for all taste buds – from hardy stouts and tart sours to run-of-the-mill IPAs and drafts. Already fans of trusty classics like Jing-A’s Mandarin Wheat (RMB35) and Worker’s Pale Ale (RMB40), we opt for some new varieties: Made in collaboration with Shanghai brewery Brewful Life, the Yan Bing Bing (RMB50), inspired by the rivalry between Beijing’s favorite orange soda Beibingyang and Shanghai’s tangy Yanqishui, is tart and citrusy with every sip. The Watermelon Xanadu (RMB50), a refreshing sour brewed with Daxing melons and a hint of hibiscus, is a crisp antidote to a long day.
But beer is not the only name of the game here – with Executive Chef Simone Thompson cooking in the kitchen, Jing-A’s new grub menu deserves the spotlight as much as the brews. Fill your beer-tempted stomach with a number of bites like the breads and spreads (RMB70), a trio of fresh bread, crackers and Mediterranean-inspired dips that help tame the munchies early on. We also go for the saucy oxtail and pork meatballs (RMB50), which are succulent and, of course, saucy all the way through, and the deep-fried falafel bites (RMB35), served with chickpea mayo and lemon for a little zest.
Images via Andrew Braun for That’’s
The inventive pizzas are the real stars here though, with eight different styles to choose from. The Spicy Italian (RMB90) was a little bit of Italy with salami and slow-roasted cherry tomatoes, the five-cheese Cheese Over Everything (RMB90) is a lactose-intolerant diner’s most beautiful nightmare and the BBQ-slathered Lao Gan Ma’s Luau (RMB100) will convince even the most stubborn nonbeliever that (roasted-fermented) pineapple does belong on pizza. Some come out perfectly crispy and others a bit too soft in the middle with toppings falling off before we can get to them, but we’re sure Jing-A will sort out the kinks in no time. Meanwhile, the puffy Italian-style crust doesn’t disappoint.
Pro tip: Don’t leave without a serving of the decadent chocolate and bourbon tart (RMB35), paired with a scoop of homemade cherry ice cream.
If you’re no stranger to Jing-A’s Xingfucun brewpub, you’ll know exactly what to expect: good people, great food and even better beer – a gem in the new neighborhood and well worth the visit.
Image via Andrew Braun for That’’s
[Top image via Aaron Berkovich - Peking Productions]