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Hot Tables: Arch, Bistrot B, Hulu and more

The best Beijing restaurants and bars on our radar this week

Our round-up of the city’s latest (and greatest) food and drink news in bite-sized chunks covers new openings, new menus, new dishes, hell, new reasons to live and breathe. A sprinkling of closings, too, because this is Beijing. Anyhow, here’s what’s on our radar this week – keep an eye out for full reviews in the coming weeks.

What's hot


Critics' pick

In its historic location with rustic stone walls, wooden rafters and dim lighting, Arch offers a refined, yet altogether unfussy, nook to sip on all manner of tipples. The whiskey and wine range is extensive, but its curated cocktail list (90-125RMB) is a little more intriguing, with entries such as Guilty Pleasure (spiced rum, coffee liqueur, meloncello, quail egg, lemon cream) and Somewhere in Time (truffle oil, bourbon, cognac, chocolate vermouth, bitters). For the less adventurous, classics, such as negronis and old fashioneds (85-95RMB), can also be found here.

Arch has been getting a bit of buzz recently, not just because it's joined the ranks of Beijing's increasingly rare cocktail bars within the Second Ring, but because it's notoriously been a bit of a faff to find. We'd say initial reports are actually mistaken, and provided you can find the entrance to the Duan Qirui Former Government Building (right next to Yugong Yishan), even the tipsiest should probably be fine. Simply walk through the compound's red doors, passing the guard station, then turn right after the carpark.

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3 Zhangzizhong Lu (Dongcheng, Dongcheng)

Bestease (百易素食)

Emblazoned with the catchphrase 'Vegan your life' over its entrance, we're not 100 percent sure if this bustling Chaoyangmen eatery is actually vegan (there certainly don't appear to be any animal products in the menu), but it is, at the very least, entirely vegetarian. In fact, Bestease specialises in meat-free noodles, offering guilt-free yet tasty takes on all your favourite Chinese noodle dishes such as zhajiangmianliangpi and more.

The house special among them, however, is the Bestease lamian (12-20RMB), a comforting, steaming bowl of hand-pulled noodles, broth and tofu that comes in four different portion sizes – make sure you've got a fairly sizeable appetite before ordering large. Mushroom chuanr (12RMB for two), doused in cumin, tastes uncannily like a meatier Xinjiang classic, while its extensive list of cold dishes also provide a welcome respite for those after something a bit more exciting than that last-minute lunchtime salad. Needless to say, we're fans.

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9 Jiqing Li Chaowai Bei Jie (Chaoyang, --select--)
L'apéro at Bistrot B

L'apéro at Bistrot B

We're keeping this to the point, because frankly, this deal speaks for itself. Every Wednesday until the end of October, head to Rosewood Beijing's ritzy French restaurant Bistrot B to enjoy l'apéro: three hours of free-flow drinks, canapés and charcuterie (including cured meats terrines, pâtés and confit) for 350RMB per person. Drinks include an exclusive selection of four cocktails – such as French 75 and Pastis Framboise – as well as four wines to choose from. See? Pretty good.

New menu at Hulu

New menu at Hulu

TRB's casual outpost Hulu adds to its already extensive menu with a bunch of new additions this autumn. If you're a fan of steak, lobster, steak with lobster (298RMB) or just seafood in general, then you'll probably find yourself pretty well catered for. Stave off any potential winter blues with their Australian grain-fed 1kg tomahawk steak (688RMB, pictured), or try out their Boston lobster risotto, topped with, you guessed it, an entire lobster (388RMB). 

Norwegian seared salmon (128RMB) also gets a run, as well as what's possibly Beijing's most elaborate cobb salad (108RMB), resembling a psychedelic carousel of quail eggs, avocado, cubes of beef, pumpkin, walnut, cherry tomatoes, corn and feta cheese. Phew.

Chan Kong Kei Sanlitun (陈光记烧味饭店)

While Shanghai just got another round of Michelin stars dished out, Beijing is still waiting for the guide that will finally tell us all what’s any good around here. ’Til then, we’ll just have to cry into our bowls of gruel and contend with ‘Michelin-starred chefs’ (not actually a thing, apparently), Michelin-starred McDonalds, or even a Michelin-starred sous-dishwasher pop-up, if we’re lucky enough to get one.

Whether you care about the culinary opinions of a voracious rubbery beast or not, two outlets of a restaurant with Michelin pedigree landed in Beijing in recent weeks, and they’re pretty good. Six-decade-old Macanese spot Chan Kong Kei (陈光记烧味饭店, Chen Guang Ji in Mandarin) was featured in the Hong Kong & Macau 2017 guide, lauded for its excellent range of value roast meats.

Black pepper roast duck is the signature, but there’s an extensive roster of rou, with marinated beef, chicken, pork, goose and more duck – wings, breast, feet, ears, hearts, nothing is wasted – available to order solo, or with rice or noodles. A shuang pin (双拼饭; from 28-48RMB), is a good tasting option with a choice of two meats – we picked the duck and a fantastic crackling-covered pork, served with rice, pak choi, and it didn’t disappoint. We’ll be back for more.

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1 Sanlitun Nan Lu (Sanlitun, --select--)

What's not

Final Voyage?

Final Voyage?

In not so hot news, it looks like bad news for Gulou coffee joint Voyage, whose glass front has recently made way for a brick wall, such is hutong life. We were unable to contact the Voyage team but, for now, the Beiluoguxiang outlet is out of action; keep an eye on its venue page on our site for updates. In the meantime, its other outlets are still a-brewin’ to cover your caffeine fix next time you’re in Dashilar or 798.

Salad University

Salad University

The Xingfucun campus of under-subscribed tertiary education institute Salad University has recently shuttered in uncertain circumstances. Signs posted on its windows call it a temporary closure, but with the classroom trashed and all lab equipment gone, it looks like the end of the road could be nearing for this academic hotbed; attempts to contact its professors have been so far unsuccessful.   

Its leafy creations were never Ivy League-grade – indeed, a course in Vietnamese salad on exchange at nearby Rollbox may prove more enriching – but bad news for healthy eating nonetheless.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars