Stylish Sichuan Sips and Sustenance at Opposite House’s Superfly

By Sophie Steiner, July 13, 2021

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The Place 

Situated on The Opposite House’s corner at street level, Superfly – a hip take on Sichuan comfort food hailing from the region's famous fly restaurants – feels like a standalone space with its own distinct personality. It’s the opposite of the Rosewood’s ostentatious luxury – something this generation isn’t necessarily looking for any more in a 5-star hotel. Instead, it’s fresh, young and downright cool, a place to be seen at. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The space is divided ergonomically into two main dining sections, plus an outdoor area. The front is more for the bar and nibbles crowd, with a reverberating red backdrop and fluorescent light emitting from the old school TV wall displaying anything from ‘80s cartoons to music videos to dated news episodes. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The central dining area offers a view of the half open kitchen, flooded with natural light during the day, while the outdoor area affords diners a humming view of busy Sanlitun. The retro take-away window could double as the entrance to a San Fran meets Tokyo curio shop, with neon lights shining on old records, painted fans and pounded aluminum mugs of a bygone Beijing era.  

The Food 

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To kick your appetite into gear (and prepare your taste buds for the impending onslaught of chilis), the Boboji in Mala Sauce (RMB48) takes after a Leshan street snack, with intertwined skewers of beef, quail eggs, chicken, broccoli, lotus root and kelp dunked in a heavily spiced chili oil broth.  

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Paper thin Sliced Pork Rolls (RMB68) entomb equally slender slivers of refreshingly crunchy cucumbers, then doused in a bath of chili sauce and smashed garlic. The meat’s rich fattiness adds depth of flavor but doesn’t stick egregiously to the palate when balanced by an extra hit of fresh herbs and more of that numbing spice.

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While most mapo tofu is made with pork, the Mushroom Mapo Tofu (RMB88) takes this traditional Sichuan dish and enhances it to be more approachable for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. An added layer of mushroom earthiness and rounded spice from Pixian county bean paste and chili forms a slick, oily sauce that hugs the soft tofu cubes.

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The light tempura batter of the Caramelized Eggplant (RMB68) gives way to a soft-cooked aubergine that pulls apart in strips with each bite, resulting in a texture similar to slowly braised meat. A generous dribble of sticky, borderline saccharine sauce is expertly balanced by chili heat, bright green onions, cilantro and sesame seeds.  

DSC04825.jpgBullfrog with Chili & Mushroom (RMB138) shitake mushrooms, fresh Sichuan chili, Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

While the Fish Fillet in Spicebush Soup (RMB128) tastes of butter and lemon, neither of these ingredients is actually found in the recipe. In fact, it’s the spicebush (山胡椒) – a peppercorn unique to Guangxi, Sichuan and Yunnan – that emits a lemongrass flavor, emulating lemon, but with a bolder herbaceous backbone. The spicebush oil adds a layer of creaminess to the broth that the poached sea bass fillet just slides into. Soft and delicate without bones, the meaty flesh is counterbalanced with crunchy bean sprouts. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

When it comes to carbs, the answer at Superfly is to just order them all. Whether it’s the unctuous, fatty ropes of hand-rolled Sweet Water Noodles (RMB35) – resting in a sticky sauce of sweetened chili oil – or the springy Cold Shredded Chicken Noodles (RMB48) – interlaced with shreds of fresh cucumber, pulled chicken and another highly aromatic spicy sauce, it’s worth bringing a few extra stomachs to order an extra serving. 

DSC04843.jpgDanDan Noodles (RMB38) minced pork, soy sauce chili, peanuts, Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Textbook excellence arrives in the form of Superfly Fried Rice (RMB68) – a superlative rendition of what you know and love about late-night fried rice carts, with fried dace fish, egg, scallions, coriander and – popping fish roe – because Superfly is classy like that. 

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The G.L.B Super Dumplings (RMB48) are a guilty pleasure wrapped up in a pan-fried potsticker. Seemingly taking inspiration from a McDonalds burger, gooey cheese and ground beef are stuffed inside the dumpling wrappers, a dollop of something peculiarly similar to Thousand Island dressing sits on the side, ready for dunking. Essentially this is a Big Mac dumpling. Gluttonous? Yes. Glorious? Double yes. 

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Cold Ice Jelly (RMB38), or bingfen, is the ideal palette cleanser to tone down that mala tingle at the end of the meal – probably why this dessert is so popular in Chengdu. The cooling bowl of soft jello is drowned in a brown sugar syrup, adorned with everything from fermented glutinous rice, hawthorn candy and freshly chopped strawberries to dragon fruit, raisins and peanuts. 

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An alternative to the lighter, fruit-forward ice jelly, the Deep Fried Rice Cake (RMB28) is as indulgent as the preceding meal. Thick rectangles of glutinous rice are encased in a crunchy, fried crust, drizzled with a brown sugar syrup and a sprinkle of crushed peanuts. 

The food menu’s creativity directly translates to the drinks, with inventive twists on popular non-alcoholic bevvies, Chinese-ingredient inspired sips and effervescent highballs. Aside from cocktails, there’s also Great Leap beers, wine, sake, champagne, craft baijiu and shochu. 

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The restaurant’s namesake cocktail, the Super ‘Fly’ (RMB98) is a sweet, tart, booze-forward gulp of American bourbon paired with single malt Genever, softened by maple syrup and lemon, and – get this – a reduction of peanut and sunflower seeds. A whipped beer foam rests on top of the mug, affording drinkers a boozy barbell moustache with each nip. 

Prefer to drink your dessert? The Snack Them ‘Nuts’ (RMB98) is a sweet and creamy tipple sporting American bourbon and reposado mezcal, plus chestnut, peanut butter, strawberry jam, demerara and egg white – like a drinkable adult version of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

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A play on the most popular summer drink from Chaoshan, the S.L.S G&T (RMB80) is spruced up with Chinese salty lime plus tonic instead of the usual Sprite, for a refreshing – and hydrating – drink.  

Superfly also offers lunch sets for RMB88, two-for-one highballs every Thursday from noon to close and beer and dumplings for RMB55 every Monday.

The Vibe 

The beat is constantly thumping – a stylized rhythmic flow of alternating early 2000s hip hop, new-age Chinese rap and a blend of underground ‘third culture’ nu-jazz that syncopates with ice clinking into glasses, silverware tapping plates piled high with sizzling bites and laughs echoing deep from happy bellies. Superfly oozes trendy coolness and offers crazy good value for what you get. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Clientele spans an attractive cross-section of intercultural Chinese, expats, business travelers looking for something with more of an edge and in-the-know foodies. The happening space creates an atmosphere you’d want to spend more than a few hours in, whether it was in Beijing, Shanghai, or even New York or London. 

Price: RMB150-300
Who’s Going: Intercultural Chinese, expats, business travelers looking for something with more of an edge and in-the-know foodies
Good For: Spice cravings, cheeky cocktails paired with good vibes, night out in Sanlitun 

See a listing for Superfly. See more Beijing Restaurant Reviews

[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]

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