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First look: Palms LA Kitchen and Bar

Korean and Mexican cuisine team up for a new fusion restaurant in Gulou

Did you feel it? Beijing has gotten noticeably cooler in recent days – and it has nothing to do with you showing off your spring fashion collection during the recent heat wave. We're talking about Korean-Mexican fusion restaurant Palms LA Kitchen and Bar, located just east of Jiugulou Dajie.

The cosy hutong space occupied by Palms isn't much bigger than the trendy LA food trucks that inspired the Korean-Mexican fusion trend. A group dining table in the center is flanked on one side by bar seating and on the other by a row of tables in a line along the wall. Don't head all the way out there without a reservation; we certainly would have rued our circuitous bike journey had we not booked in advance. So do it!

To start, there's starch: kimchi, garlic and k-town (tossed in Korean spices and nori) fries, for 25RMB, and loaded fries, as meaty and cheesy as you might imagine, for 45RMB. Squirtings of sriracha sour cream top the moist kimchi fritters (25RMB) and the house special kimchi quesadilla (48RMB). The latter is one of the smaller quesadillas around town and works out to roughly 10RMB per wedge. Ours was hardly overstuffed; we'd almost say it was skimpy. The bright side? Share it with a few friends and you'll have plenty of room left for the meal.

Tacos run for about 40RMB and burritos (ours came out cold; we had to ask for it to be re-heated) for about 50RMB, but we were particularly intrigued by the baked bibimbap (around 50RMB, pictured below). You have to be in the proper mindset for this dish: what at one time might be hearty and satisfying might seem heavy and overwhelming at another. It's served in a tiny porcelain bathtub, a bed of Mexican rice topped generously with onions, cilantro, seaweed, cheese, fried egg, meat and such. The kind of meal you pat your belly after.

baked-bibimbap
Will you ever be hungry again?

Cocktails are light and refreshing. We tried the LA Water at the recommendation of our waiter. It's a colourful twist on the Long Island (45RMB). El Imigrante (45RMB), yerba mate-infused vodka and Sprite, is also a fine way to wet your whistle.

Perhaps best of all is the service. At Palms, they do more than just take orders. You really get the sense that you're being waited upon. Definitely tip-worthy. Luke, who was looking after us, noticed that were digging the background jams and offered to burn us a CD the next time we came in. How very old school and generous of you, Luke!

We know you're curious, so we'll just say it: Palms is a must-try. You can't go wrong when customer satisfaction is such a high priority. It's plain to see in their inventive menu, excellent service and reasonable prices. Keep palm and carry on, guys!

Palms 14 Zhangwang Hutong, Dongcheng district (6405 4352) Open 11.30am-midnight Tue-Sun. 东城区张旺胡同14号
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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