Here are all the bar and restaurants we featured in our December 2018 issue:
Image via Kheng Swe Lim for That's
Fei Fei Liu, or ‘Fat Fat Durian’ in English, serves Malaysian and Singaporean-style comfort food. The lines are long and the flavors adapted to the Cantonese palate, lacking sufficient levels of the fermented aroma found in maritime Southeast Asia. Nevertheless, if you want to relive the culinary memories of your last vacation down South, you could do much worse.
On our visit, the nasi lemak (RMB36), or rice with coconut milk, is steamed to al-dente perfection, colored a striking shade of blue (sometimes seen in Malaysia) and accompanied by decent sambal and roast peanuts. The dish’s excellence, though, is marred by a lack of fried anchovies and the inclusion of a piece of heavily-battered chicken. The Singapore-style char kuay teow (RMB36), otherwise known in English as the fried rice noodles, is sweetish and appropriately greasy, tasting like the real thing.
A far cry, perhaps, from ordering nasi lemak from a fold-out table in Kuala Lumpur, but as they say: beggars can’t be choosers!
Who’s going: homesick Malaysians and Singaporeans
Good for: passable Southeast Asian grub, an unpretentious date
Nearest metro: Gangding (Exit D), 5 minutes’ walk
When we visit in mid-November, Tatenokawa’s menu only offers set meals, but a staffer does mention to us that an a la carte menu will be available to diners by the end of the year. But don’t let this deter you, as Tatenokawa’s fresh cuts of sashimi and perfectly-roasted mackerel (RMB60) will impress even the pickiest of seafood fans.
We recommend sampling the restaurant’s abundance of kaiseki-style set meals, which come in a number of varieties, including teppanyaki, tempura, sashimi, sushi, roasted fish and more!
Sashimi lovers would be wise to try the ‘assorted banquet meal box’ (RMB228), a meal set focused on the day’s freshest seafood offerings. In addition to generous cuts of salmon, tuna and the like, the set also comes with a bowl of sushi rice, a sour salad, sesame tofu, steamed tofu with beef, pickled daikon and a bowl of piping hot miso soup. (Other meal sets come with more or less the same formula).
Who’s going: sake tipplers, mall diners
Good for: Japanese meal sets, food porn
Nearest metro: Huacheng Dadao (Exit B), 5 minutes’ walk
Image by Ryan Gandolfo/That’s
While this eatery does offer an array of celebrated Northern-style dishes, we have to be honest and admit we visited Xi Jingjing for one thing and one thing only: the duck (RMB108 half bird/RMB198 full bird).
The bird carcass arrived at our table plump and cooked to perfection. Upon digging in, the rich bird meat immediately reminded us of time spent in Hebei, where we often scooped up a roadside roasted duck as a quick and affordable meal.
The waitress was even so kind as to demonstrate how to make a proper wrap, adding a couple slices of cucumber, fresh spring onions, thick and flavorful duck sauce and, of course, duck meat. We found the quality of the meat to be passable, with crispy skin draped over the tender dark cuts. The meat lacked the extra juiciness we’ve come to expect while not being overly dry either.
We also got our hands on the restaurant’s thousand layered beef cakes (RMB32 for six), which provide a nice, savory crunch. Depending on how many people you have, you may want to get two orders of these bad boys. Between the roasted duck and the beef-laden flatbreads, we came away thinking Xi Jingjing provides a quality Northern-style meal, although you’d still need to catch a plane to sample the real deal.
Who’s going: young families, duck lovers
Good for: a sample of Northern cuisine, a filling meal
Nearest metro: Huashi (Exit B), 10 minutes
Image by Matthew Bossons/That's
Located in a constantly-changing F&B area across Liede Dadao from Xingsheng Lu, Commune looks fantastic. The beautiful, well-lit interior makes use of tried-and-true materials such as wood and brick to create a space that feels equal parts library and industrial-chic. The ground floor features ample seating, a circular-shaped bar for cocktails and mixed drinks and stand-up coolers full of bottled beer. There’s also a huge outdoor patio that, we learned, becomes quite full from 9pm onwards (on Saturdays, anyway).
While we loved the design and ambiance of the place, the rest of our Commune experience was frustrating at best. Drink orders here are placed at the cash register, with service staff at the bar only there to seat you and deliver drinks and food. With only two tills, your patience is sure to be tested.
Once you have decided what you want (either from the beer fridges, the wall of overpriced liquor bottles, or the limited cocktail menu), grab a table and prepare to wait, because your drink won’t be coming anytime soon...
Who’s going: folks rightly bored of Xingsheng Lu
Good for: getting frustrated
Nearest metro: Liede (Exit C), 10 minutes’ walk
[Cover image by Ryan Gandolfo/That's]