Last Friday, foodies and restaurateurs alike held their breath on my WeChat moments after Beijing’s CDC released the travel history of a person who came to Beijing from Shanghai and then tested positive for COVID-19, fearing this unexpected news could lead to yet another round of tightened restrictions on the capital’s already suffering F&B industry. Fortunately, as they have done so many times in the past, once the city identified where the traveler had eaten during their stay, the city took swift action and massively conducted nucleic acid tests on the restaurant staff. At the time of going to press, all those tests were negative and since then the required two-week incubation period has passed, meaning it is relatively safe for these restaurants to reopen.
Perhaps even more surprising, however, is that the list of restaurants visited by the infected person and their travel group ended up attracting even more attention than the case itself, as it was part of a carefully mapped out itinerary. Many of my friends therefore decided to repeat their tour of Suzhou, with several museums, communities with traditional architecture and immaculate gardens. Entertaining, instead of continuing with their tour the culture passing through the capital, this particular group decided to roam the city and stop at several hidden gem restaurants where they partook in delicacies and booze. Despite the fact that Beijing is often referred to as a culinary desert, these adventurers clearly knew their way around the city’s food scene and where to find some sparkling oases. So let’s go through this list and see what the restaurants have to offer.
still thinking baijiu is the end of the Chinese libation culture? Then you might want to pay a visit to this small bistro. Hidden in the hutongs near Beixinqiao, Nuoyan is a go-to place for those looking to get lost in the diverse world that is rice wine, which can be much milder than its famously strong cousin. This slightly sweet drink is generally softer and can even be considered a weekday drink for those who want to drink socially. Not to mention, it’s more versatile when combined with food. At Nuoyan you can order a test flight with an arsenal of classic and new products.
For example, they have a rose rice wine that really lives up to its name, with a floral scent that blossoms from the infused drink. With a sip of this slightly sour, slightly sweet flower dew, the aroma reaches the tip of your tongue and flows through the body. Conversely, if you prefer a more traditional taste, clear rice wine and osmanthus-scented rice wine are also on the menu.
Aside from the drinks, Nuoyan offers a tapas menu of dishes specifically designed to enhance the flavor of the rice wine, such as stir-fried conch, marinated tofu, or roasted chicken. No wonder those travelers stayed here from 5pm to midnight.
M of course
Located on the third floor of Taikooli’s Nali Patio, I don’t suspect M Natural is a strange name for foodies or those who live in Sanlitun. It is known for a bold, fun menu inspired by diverse culinary cultures from around the world. And at a time when the word “fusion” is nothing more than a gimmick used by restaurants too lazy to deliver authentic regional flavors, M Natural is one of the few to understand the depth of its meaning and secret chemical reactions. between ingredients with different cultural backgrounds.
In addition to the seasonal wines featured on their drinks menu, M Natural – as the name suggests – is also famous for its natural wine selection. This emerging new winemaking trend is still a rarity in China, but has gradually expanded in the market with unique and wild flavors that are a product of manual harvesting techniques, as well as other requirements such as minimal human intervention in the fermentation process, and minimal or no artificial additives used during production.
The name of this restaurant is derived from the owner’s experience of completing four quarantines in a year due to frequent travel between France and China. Fear not though, as you won’t feel isolated in a quarantine cell when dining here. Rather, the food served is familiar home style with heartwarming service to boot, making you feel like you’re dining at a good friend’s house.
As you browse Solitude’s menu, you may notice the influence of French cuisine and the inspiration that comes from the owner’s world-traveling adventures. However, it is probably the impressive wine cabinet that catches everyone’s attention when entering the restaurant – a wide collection that ensures there is always a first choice for every occasion.
Hai Jing Ge
Finally, a restaurant on the west side of town earned its spot on this list. Compared to the previous restaurants and gastropubs, Hai Jing Ge remains closer to the diverse landscape of traditional Chinese gastronomy. Their menu features many regional delicacies, especially from southern China, including Anhui bamboo and canton steamed grouper.
Since it’s further from downtown, the dining experience at Hai Jing Ge offers diners a rare serenity often hard to find in a thriving metropolis like Beijing. And it’s only a short drive to the Summer Palace, making it the perfect place to spend some quality free time when out and about.
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