Food Awards 2015: the winners

The winning restaurants and chefs in our 2015 food awards

Food Awards 2015 Logo-01-1 Time Out Food Awards 2015 | How we pick the winners | Last year's winners


Discover the very best of Beijing's dining scene with the winning restaurants, chefs and cafes from the Time Out Food Awards 2015. Click through our list of winners below to find the best international fine dining restaurant, top Chinese casual dining, best cafe, brunch, lunch set and more.

Don't miss out on the biggest awards, chef of the year and restaurant of the year, chosen by Time Out's expert panel of judges.

Also this year, for the first time, every category has a readers' choice award, each voted for by countless of Time Out Beijing's readers.

Dive in to our list, and happy eating!

The best Chinese fine dining restaurants in Beijing 2015 as chosen by our expert panel of anonymous reviewers and countless votes from Time Out Beijing readers.

Winner Transit

Recently, it’s all about the sourcing at this modern Sichuan eatery. For months now, chef Huang Chao’s been hiding out in his Sichuan hometown of Luzhou, rooting up the finest of ingredients: mouth-numbing peppercorns; fiery red chillies with a crisp, crazy-fresh heat; tender shoots of bamboo from neighbouring Guizhou.


The kitchen in Beijing whips these precious findings into small miracles. Dry-fried Angus tenderloin toasted with chillies, a luscious mapo tofu spiked with peppercorns, and then the dandan mian (pictured left), an elegant paean to Sichuan’s classic noodles that reverberates with a citrusy twang from the chunky wedge of lime. Even more marvellous are the twists that you won’t find anywhere else in Beijing, like scandalously rich chunks of pork cooked in pu’er and cognac. Great Sichuan is all over the city, but for true genius and wizardry, you’ll only ever end up here. This is Transit – peerless in the classics and inventive in all the right places.

ORDER THIS Steamed perch infused with litsea oil and lime jus (198RMB)

Merit Xin Rongji

"Xin Rongji-1"

‘Braised assorted fish with brown sauce’ isn’t really the kind of menu description that gets us psyched. What hits the table is another story. Where the menu is a grisly, literal affair, Xin Rongji’s fine provisions from the south of China are pure poetry. The fish melts in our mouths; said ‘brown sauce’ is at once both heady and delicate. Sweet and sultry, fall-apart ribs have been braised with dried bamboo shoots. This kitchen’s naturally strong on their fish game, but countryside specialities like fried glutinous rice turn out to be dishes worth fighting over.

ORDER THIS Lobster noodle soup (longxiatang daotingmian 龙虾汤稻庭面, 48RMB).

INSIDER TIP Xin Rongji has only recently unveiled its excellent value non-private room portion sizes and prices.

Reader's Choice Li Jia Cai (历家菜)

"Jinbao Jie-1"

The best Chinese casual dining in Beijing 2015 as chosen by our expert panel of anonymous reviewers and countless votes from Time Out Beijing readers.

Winner Dianke Dianlai (滇客滇来)

To eat at Dianke Dianlai is to submit yourself to an unrelenting onslaught – and you’ll love every minute of it. Hidden behind a red door marked only with the number eight, it’s a set menu concept with three prices (128RMB, 198RMB and 298RMB) in a charming,light-filled space. ‘Bring it on’, we say at the outset. Then come the waves of small plates (not actually that small) – shrimp drenched in an out-of-this-world citrusy tomato sauce; sweet lotus root stuffed with preserved lemon; devilishly crispy cubes of pork belly topped with pickles. The menu varies day-to-day and prices indicate the quality of the ingredients, not the quantity. If you’re not full at the end, they promise more food on the house. You won’t need it, but high-fives all around for the hospitality.

Chinese casualINSIDER TIP Go for lunch when the sun slants in through the recently renovated glass roof.


Merit Zhen Ai Zhongguo

An export from Xi’an, Zhen Ai Zhongguo (er, ‘Really Love China’) is all about everyday Shaanxi fare, remixed and elevated. Try the delightfully petite roujiamo (pork sandwiches, 肉夹馍) and the qiugongmian (狄公面), noodles pulled so deftly that the bowl contains one single, brilliant tangle of a noodle. The menu’s in Chinese only, but the photos are gorgeous. Take the hulu ji (葫芦鸡) – would ‘gourd chicken’ do this magnificent, deep-fried chicken that is at once juicy and crispy any justice?

ORDER THIS Three-coloured cold noodles with sesame-chilli sauce (guanzhong liangpi 关中凉皮, 38RMB)

Reader's Choice Madame Zhu’s Kitchen

The best Chinese everyday eats restaurants in Beijing 2015 as chosen by our expert panel of anonymous reviewers and countless votes from Time Out Beijing readers.

Winner Nice Rice (百米柆)

brocoliHeat! That’s what Nice Rice is all about. We’re down to get grimy for great food, but here it’s not necessary. The classy yet understated atmosphere is all clean lines, whitewashed brick walls and blonde wood furniture. It’s a crisp complement for the spicy flavours Nice Rice serves up.

The dry-pot cauliflower is tossed with chillies (pictured left), beef stir-fried on an iron griddle with onions, beans and peppers. We thought we didn’t like bitter melon (or frog for that matter), but try the frog braised with bitter melon and have your universe altered. Milder dishes like steamed ribs with taro have similar transformative qualities. And how about fermented fish? Nice Rice can convince you – or will at least try.

ORDER THIS Dry-pot cauliflower (ganguo huacai 干锅花菜, 36RMB)

TRY THIS DRINK Black rice wine.

Merit Life List

Life List-1

When Gulou courtyard spot Life List opened in 2010, it was simple: pay 100RMB and dig into whatever delights the kitchen served you. Since then, it’s changed to an a la carte menu, but the eating’s just as good. A fish head (duojiao yutou 剁椒鱼头) is a brilliant display of red, green and yellow – as stunning in taste as appearance.

ORDER THIS Jasmine flowers with wood ears and egg (molihuakai 茉莉花开, 32RMB).

Reader's Choice Jin Ding Xuan (金鼎轩酒楼)

The best Asian fine dining in Beijing 2015 as chosen by our expert panel of anonymous reviewers and countless votes from Time Out Beijing readers.

Winner Yotsuba (四叶)

We’ve always loved the intimacy of the original Yotsuba, but the latest in the brand’s trio of restaurants in Lido is our latest obsession. With tuna flown in daily from Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market, everything from the sashimi to the service to the ambiance is impeccable. Choose an assorted platter and, depending on the day, you might score the impossibly creamy botan shrimp sashimi, but whatever’s in that day, it’ll be unforgettable. It’s a pricey night out, but if prime cuts of fish and traditional Japanese fare are what does it for you, this is the spot to be. And a final pro tip – if you’re cash cautious, look into the stellar lunch deals.

ORDER THIS Clam miso soup (huage jiangtang 花蛤酱汤, 40RMB).

SIT HERE If you’re two then make sure to sit at the bar, otherwise sit in one of the sunken tatami-style private rooms.

Merit Okra

It’s hard to know where to begin at Okra. Sushi seems the easiest choice – fish is expertly sourced and sliced, rice meticulously crafted. But then there are the cooked dishes, which are innovative, exciting and inspired. We’d never think of chicken-fried kanpachi tuna loin, but one bite and it makes so much sense. Cocktails like the Pickled Jew – a bloody Mary with pickled okra and smoked tomato shochu – similarly illustrate chef and owner Max Levy’s New Orleans origins cross-pollinated with a deep interest in East Asian cuisines.

‘What we do is modern Japanese,’ Levy says. If this is modern, then we’re this close to throwing tradition out of the window.

ORDER THIS Yaki Toro charcoal-roasted fatty tuna with leek and garlic (160RMB).

INSIDER TIP 2-for-1 cocktails (6-8pm).

Reader's Choice My Humble House

The best Asian casual dining restaurants in Beijing 2015 as chosen by our expert panel of anonymous reviewers and countless votes from Time Out Beijing readers.

Winner Vin Vie (万火)


This Japanese izakaya might be the only place in Beijing where it’s always packed and reservations are absolutely essential. We get it, though.

We’ve never had this much luck with a menu – basically, close your eyes, point and you’ll love whatever arrives at the table. Horsemeat carpaccio layered with olive tapenade, sardines gently poached in oil, red miso-braised beef tendon, oyster fritters with a sour cream codroe dip. Everything sounds a little off kilter, wacky, and totally delicious. It is. But besides a killer gastronomic experience, Vin Vie’s got the vino on lock with a solid selection for incredibly reasonable prices. We were only supposed to visit once, but we went back for more – twice.

ORDER THIS Vinegar-cured mackerel (38RMB).

DON’T SKIP DESSERT ‘French toast with lots of maple!!’ (38RMB).

Merit Pak Pak

Restaurateur Amy Li’s Pak Pak does for the city’s Thai food scene what Susu has done for Vietnamese – a well-balanced, expertly executed study of the cuisine that outstrips any other attempt. A classic tom kha gaicoconut chicken soup reverberates with citrus notes of galangal, lemongrass and lime leaf; mashed potatoes come mixed with red curry and spiked with chilli. Pak Pak covers the basics, then throws in delightful twists, like sai krok isan, nubs of sour sausage – tangy and ineffably light.

ORDER THIS Gaeng Phanaeng Neua (panang curry, 58RMB).

DON’T SKIP DESSERT Coco Cici (chocolate mousse with chilli pepper, 42RMB)

Reader's Choice Susu (苏苏会)

The best international fine dining restaurants in Beijing 2015 as chosen by our expert panel of anonymous reviewers and countless votes from Time Out Beijing readers.

Winner Temple Restaurant Beijing (TRB)

If you want special, you want Temple. There’s no way to leave Temple Restaurant Beijing without feeling like a princess – even you, boys. Its clandestine setting at the end of a hutong only heightens the drama of entering the flawlessly restored temple courtyard. It’s full-stop stunning.

245A9116Belgian proprietor Ignace Lecleir marks the apex of hospitality. Even if we reject trickle down economics, something like that is happening here; service is gracious and anticipates your every need, even before you do. You want to split a single tasting menu and wine pairing? Sure! It’s a level of accommodation unparalleled in Beijing and beyond.

Chef Sydney De Hart, formerly of Brian McKenna @ The Courtyard, took over the kitchen last summer and has a steady hand at the stove. Butter-poached lobster is paired with crab, notes of sage and a shower of toasted pumpkin seeds. It’s one of the best things we’ve eaten this year.

ORDER THIS Seared pigeon with foie gras, pistachio croutons, polenta and roasted grapes (210RMB).

SIT HERE For supper, request one of the cosy booths towards the back where the atmosphere’s intimate but you can still people-watch.

The dining room is elegantly minimal, the food decidedly not. It’s rich, concentrated and luxurious. Velvety roast goose is accompanied with black ‘forbidden rice’ and an umami punch of miso. Chef and owner Brian McKenna can be playful – salads that resemble gardens, chocolate terracotta warriors, dishes served in paper instant ramen containers and faux McDonald’s cartons – yet always with a unwavering sophistication. He also knows when to drop the bells and whistles: a delicate cube of black cod arrives with a lone, gorgeous Japanese egg yolk that almost trembles in its singularity. It’s simple, delicious and the exact opposite of the whimsy we expected.

With set menus only, you’re entirely in McKenna’s hands. This is a very good thing.

SIT HERE Request one of the large tables looking onto the Forbidden City.

INSIDER TIP Arrive early and have a drink in the underground bar, where the windows are level with the imperial moat.

Reader's Choice Temple Restaurant Beijing (TRB)

The best international casual dining restaurants in Beijing 2015 as chosen by our expert panel of anonymous reviewers and countless votes from Time Out Beijing readers.

Winner Migas

Migas doesn’t have to be as good as it is. Hell, they don’t even have to do food. They’ve got a banging nightlife scene, and once the rooftop’s open for the summer, it’s a wonder that they don’t just move the entire operation upstairs. But what the crew seems to live for is the kitchen – and it shows.

Chef Aitor Olabegoya has a manic intensity and wild imagination that’s highly infectious. The food at Migas is creative, compelling, energetic and unlike anything in the rest of the city. Sardines are stacked on top of foie gras, draped with slivers of wood ears, slipped onto toast and served in threes – which turns out to be far too few. Somehow Olabegoya has made sea cucumber not only edible, but delicious (doubt us if you dare). It’s sautéed and piled on black cod, paired with crispy fried chickpeas. We almost feel boring awarding Migas the top honour in this category again. But at Migas there’s always something new, there’s always something interesting and they’re always killing it. No regrets.

ORDER THIS Barcelona bomba (48RMB).

DON’T SKIP DESSERT Tonka bean torrija (58RMB).

Merit Mosto

When Mosto opened in 2008, there was nothing like it. Contemporary, urbane and hip in all the ways an aspirational globe-trotter was looking for. Seven years and a whole new restaurant scene later, there’s still nothing like it. A renovation and re-launch last October breathed new life into the space. Maybe it was the success of the team’s newest venture, Moka Bro’s, but Mosto got more casual – and it works. They’ve nailed the atmosphere, which hums with energy at any hour. On Sunday night, we’re there for a steak and wine with friends, a few days later for a quick bowl of pumpkin ravioli at the bar after work, and then shamelessly on Saturday, we roll out of bed and head to Mosto for brunch. Can a restaurant be a local? This is ours.

ORDER THIS Truffle risotto (85RMB).

TRY THIS DRINK Dry martini (50RMB).

Reader's Choice Mosto


The best international everyday eats in Beijing 2015 as chosen by our expert panel of anonymous reviewers and countless votes from Time Out Beijing readers.

Winner Taco Bar

Back in 2012, the original Taco Bar’s almost hidden location and rumours of real Mexican food became the stuff of legend. But that speakeasy, not-quite-legal location came and went within a year, and hearts sank. So when Kin Hong opened the sparkling new (and totally legit) Taco Bar last summer, we weren’t surprised to find him crushing it. Grilled cheese with carnitas, fried tilapia tacos, funnel cake dusted with cinnamon and sugar? Give it all to us and we’ll wash it down with a margarita or five. Hong’s nailed the taco once and for all for Beijing.

ORDER THIS Mexican truck stop (55RMB, brunch only).

Merit Palms LA Kitchen and Bar

Let’s talk about instant success. Exhibit A: Palms LA Kitchen and Bar. From the moment it opened its doors last year, Gulou – and quickly, the rest of the city – was enamoured with this imported culinary mash-up from southern California. Is there anything better than a taco? It might be one with Korean barbecue pork and sriracha cream. We’re shamelessly kimchi-obsessed, which is good, because at Palms it’s in everything: gooey kimchi and carnitas quesadillas; loaded fries, heavy with barbecue pork, kimchi, and avocado cream; devilish spring rolls stuffed with kimchi and cheese. Palms has a winning formula, and they’re doing it masterfully.

ORDER THIS The Koreatown Special (56RMB).

TRY THIS DRINK El Inmigrante with yerba mate-infused vodka (45RMB).

Readers’ choice Slow Boat Brewery Taproom

The best cafés in Beijing 2015 as chosen by our expert panel of anonymous reviewers and countless votes from Time Out Beijing readers.

Winner Green Cow City Café

In 1996, Shanen and Lejen Chen started making bagels. Later came Mrs Shanen’s, their café in Shunyi, and then a nearby farm when they couldn’t find produce to meet their standards so decided to just do it themselves. Last autumn up sprang Green Cow City Café. Its location is unorthodox: in the outer reaches of Jiuxianqiao on a market street full of farmers hawking fresh produce and meat. But it’s a find more than worth the hunt. Shanen is exceedingly warm, many ingredients come from their organic Shunyi farm and the pizzas are some of the best in Beijing, believe it or not. At weekend brunch, insane ricotta pancakes burst with the soft homemade cheese. Green Cow is everything that we can get behind – and delicious, too.


ORDER THIS Green Cow Special pizza (125RMB).

INSIDER TIP Make sure you check out the impressive (and very clean) composting toilet.

Photo credit @sandyraaa

Merit C5 Café

Decked out in small black-and-white hexagonal tiles, with copper pots for pour-over coffees and an expansive skylight for perfect lighting, C5 Café is the Instagrammer’s dream. The approach to the menu is minimalist: three salads, pancakes or French toast, and a smattering of elegant baked goods. But selectivity has its upsides; every item nails it. Sidled up against an art gallery of the same name in a non-descript courtyard in north Sanlitun, it’s the kind of haven we could imagine whiling away the better part of day in. The weekdays-only opening hours are just about the only thing we can hold against C5.

ORDER THIS Black rice salad (58RMB).

TRY THIS DRINK Black sesame, banana and yogurt smoothie (45RMB).

Reader's Choice Moka Bro's

The best lunch deals in Beijing 2015 as chosen by our expert panel of anonymous reviewers and countless votes from Time Out Beijing readers.

Winner Migas (米家思)


There’s nothing that comes close to the midday steal at Migas. Lunchtime is populated with industry insiders who know. 95RMB flat for three, knock-your-socks-off creative courses. It changes weekly, and this time we get a citrus salad with crisply caramelised grapefruit, a smoky pork belly fired in the charcoal Josper oven on a bed of lentils and a rich slice of Coca Cola cake. It’s like the kitchen’s got some sort of ADHD problem – and we wouldn’t want this kind of brilliance any other way.

BONUS Have a glass of house wine for a paltry 20RMB extra.


We rarely condone all-you-can-eat deals, but dim sum is a different story. It’s snack food, which means you could eat it forever and never get full. Or is that just us? For 128RMB (plus 15 percent service) per person you can order the whole menu. And then do it again. This obviously isn’t the winner for quickest lunch deal, if you’re doing it right. Barbecued pork pastries are flaky and melt-in-you-mouth delicious. Soup dumplings boast delicate skins and exquisite broth. All-you-can-eat dim sum is nothing new, but it may never have been this good.

 One of everything. Twice.

INSIDER TIP Go with at least four people for a whole tour of the menu without exploding.

Reader's Choice Temple Restaurant Beijing


The best brunch in Beijing 2015 as chosen by our expert panel of anonymous reviewers and countless votes from Time Out Beijing readers.

Winner Temple Restaurant Beijing (TRB)

What’s your life come to when brunch starts with five courses minimum? We’re not sure either, but TRB makes it feel natural. The fray of all-you-can-drink brunch buffets is totally passé. Instead, let Temple’s ludicrously debonair servers pour you bubbly on the house while you wait for your table (there’s inevitably await). Choose from five courses or eight(life is hard, right?), for 298RMB and368RMB respectively. There are the brunch standards like eggs Florentine to straight-up lunch dishes like a lamb rump with ginger couscous. We’d keep going back for the caramelised shallot tart alone. The only downside? Your week won’t be getting better than this.


ORDER THIS Duck egg en cocotte with foie gras, artichoke and bacon.

INSIDER TIP Make reservations since brunch gets booked up almost every weekend. You might have to wait despite your booking but you’ll sip on complimentary champers at the well-appointed bar.

Photo Credit: @qtsbee

Merit Mosto

You think weekend, you think food, you think Mosto. Tables of twenty-somethings recap long Sanlitun nights out over mimosas and eggs Benedict with smoked salmon. Mothers on a rare afternoon off are getting heavy into bellinis and the charcuterie platter loaded with Iberico ham, terrine, salami and cheeses with toast. Who’s rolling deep in the Brooklyn beer and mussel special? Let’s not pigeon-hole anyone for that; it’s too good.


ORDER THIS Octopus salad (88RMB; pictured left).

Photo credit: @daegan_coyne

Readers’ choice Temple Restaurant Beijing (TRB) 

The best hotel brunch in Beijing 2015 as chosen by our expert panel of anonymous reviewers and countless votes from Time Out Beijing readers.

Winner Feast, EAST Beijing


With chef Rob Cunningham at the helm, Feast nails everything a hotel brunch should be… and then some. For 238RMB (plus 15 percent service) there’s the starter buffet – take your pick from cold salads like chilled snap peas tossed with chicken and coriander to meat terrines on toast to steamed dumplings. Mains are served a la carte and come piling out of the kitchen made to order. Jump back into the fray for dessert dealt out buffet-style, excepting the exceptional pavlova, a heaving mess of meringue, whipped cream, fresh fruit and passion fruit sauce, which is made to order and not to be missed.

ORDER THIS Feast wagyu burger.

Merit Toast, The Orchid

"The Orchid-1"

This is the anti-hotel brunch. Not a buffet in sight – and the better for it. If the five-star champagne brunches are for the basic bitch, then The Orchid’s under-the-radar, late morning repast is the province of the cool kids. Tuck into shakshuka, an Israeli dish of poached eggs in tomato sauce with chilli or ‘The Full Chinglish’… well, you know what that is. Prime time to brunch here is spring until early autumn, when you can bag a seat on possibly Beijing’s best rooftop.

ORDER THIS Full breakfast sandwich (80RMB).

SIT HERE Outside! Seriously, did we even have to tell you again? Call to book as space is limited and fills quickly.

Readers’ choice Feast, EAST Beijing

The best Chinese hotel dining in Beijing 2015 as chosen by our expert panel of anonymous reviewers and countless votes from Time Out Beijing readers.

Winner Country Kitchen, Rosewood Beijing


High falutin’ Cantonese, get over yourself! What’s exciting us about newer hotel ventures is the defiant stance against staid tradition. Who said a five-star hotel must serve subtle Cantonese fare at astronomical prices? (Whoever it was did a great job with the PR, ’cause everyone got the memo.)

At Country Kitchen, you’ll find ‘small plates’, that are actually quite large, of expertly executed classics like a century egg with roasted chilli and coriander for 40RMB, or a bowl of knife-cut noodles for 50RMB. Chickens come from a farm in Shunyi, as do many of the greens, while a delicate handmade tofu comes from the nearby village Liu Gou. There are ‘lost recipes’ rediscovered from the Qing Dynasty that appear. Take the enormous tureen of claypot-roasted pork belly with sour cabbage, for example. It’s rustic, yet refined and intriguing – in a bite, everything that Country Kitchen is.

ORDER THIS Simmered prawns in tomato sauce (140RMB; pictured).

Merit Jing Yaa Tang, The Opposite House

Jing Yaa Tang Roast Duck 2

When Punk died what took its place? In Beijing, it was duck, naturally. When The Opposite House shut the doors on nightclub Punk, they refitted the space with insight from restaurateur-stylist Alan Yau for a stunning reinvention. The menu traverses China’s culinary landscape with a focus on a superior version of Peking duck. All are done gorgeously. Chilled cherry tomatoes marinated in plum taste like summer; tea-smoked chicken fried with chilli is earthy and unforgettable. A tour through China could be exhausting, here it’s a delight.

ORDER THIS Three-cups claypot cod fish with basil (238RMB).

Readers’ choice Jing Yaa Tang, The Opposite House

The best international hotel dining in Beijing 2015 as chosen by our expert panel of anonymous reviewers and countless votes from Time Out Beijing readers.

Winner Bistrot B, Rosewood Beijing

Bistrot B-10_medium

Late last year, Bistrot B flipped stuffy hotel dining on its head. Where are the lengthy degustation menus for 1,000RMB a head, plus 15 percent service charge, of course? The new casual simplicity comes as a surprise. A croque monsieur groaning with ham and gruyere for a shade over 100RMB, all-in? Not too shabby. A platter of sole meunière dripping in butter, lemon and capers? We’ll have two. Formerly of Maison Boulud, Jarrod Verbiak is at the helm of the bistro, dashing everything with flakes of Maldon sea salt and giving us top-notch French food for the people.

ORDER THIS Potted salmon (110RMB).

DON’T SKIP DESSERT Chocolate pot de crème (60RMB).

Merit Mio, Four Seasons Beijing

Mio is over-the-top and opulent in every way – and we can’t get enough. Chef Marco Calenzo is imaginative: the classic vitello tonnato is remixed into tonno tonnato, seared Bluefin tuna with an avalanche of frozen powdered yellowtail, a veal croquette and veal consommé jelly. The tenderness of the wagyu beef short ribs is complemented by an heirloom carrot coulis and counterpointed by burnt leeks and fermented black garlic. Sure, the dining room’s draped in crystals, but even with that we can’t take our eyes off the plate.

ORDER THIS Trafila pica, homemade black squid ink pasta (225RMB).

DON’T SKIP DESSERT Wood Apple Tree (110RMB).

Readers’ choice STAY, Shangri-La Beijing

The best new restaurant in Beijing 2015 as chosen by our expert panel of anonymous reviewers and countless votes from Time Out Beijing readers.

Winner Bistrot B, Rosewood Beijing


When Maison Boulud closed, out of its ashes rose Jarrod Verbiak with Bistrot B. French food and five-star hotels often intersect at the unfortunate junction of stuffy, uptight and insanely expensive. Bistrot B is anything but. Verbiak’s doing something different over at the Rosewood. 

The airy dining room co-exists with two open kitchens in full gear. Chefs stand over stovetops deglazing pans with red wine and studiously plating dishes moments before they are whisked off onto the floor. Hearty portions of duck leg confit, slabs of rich pâté and seemingly bottomless bowls of cheesy French onion soup arrive at the table, transported by affable, relaxed service. If this is the future of hotel dining, we’re all in.

Merit Palms LA Kitchen and Bar

Loaded fries

Palms LA swept in last spring like a chilli-flecked whirlwind, laying in its wake a trail of destruction, kimchi, and taco shells. The Korean-Mexican concept is simple – well-worn to America’s west coast, but brilliant, novel and attractive to Beijing. Owners Michael Tsai and Christian Jensen released a number-one hit on the city as surprisingly, and with as much success, as Beyoncé dropping an album on iTunes. 

We couldn’t get enough, and it seemed the rest of the city felt the same. By summertime, the idea of heading into a hutong and wrapping up Korean-style kalbi beef rib meat with kimchi-fried rice and refried beans into a burrito seemed second nature. One short year later, and Palms is already opening its second location in Sanyuanqiao early this summer.

Readers’ choice Brasserie 1893, Waldorf Astoria

The restaurant of the year in Beijing 2015 as chosen by our expert panel of anonymous reviewers and countless votes from Time Out Beijing readers.

Winner Migas


When is enough enough? For Migas, the answer appears to be never. You’d be hard pressed to find a team that rivals this tight knit crew of Spaniards in their raw energy, enthusiasm, vibrancy, creativity, positivity… well, the list could go on and on.

Head chef Aitor Olabegoya and his team are working with a force that seems unstoppable, more likely to make a jus of its laurels than rest on them. Olabegoya says what they’re doing is about fun – about making fine dining-quality food accessible. But it’s more than just a good time. Migas is about ideas. They’re pushing creativity in serious ways. A one-off foie gras salad with grapefruit and smoked yellowtail, perfumed with vanilla is a combination of flavours we’d never encountered. It’s terrific. A glassed-in test kitchen is used for trying out whatever wacky, crazy brilliant ideas one of the team might have – though this will go in the future to house the new deli concept, Traitor Zhou’s, that Migas is collaborating with Max Levy of Okra on.

And collaboration is fundamental to Migas. It’s a team that engages outwards – hosting pastry classes for the public or a pop-up dinner with another chef on the fly.

Restaurant of the Year is not simply awarded to restaurants creating the best dining experience, but to restaurants actively advancing Beijing’s food scene. Inside and out, this is Migas.

Merit Temple Restaurant Beijing (TRB)


Modern life in Beijing can be divided into two periods, pre- and post-TRB. The first privately-owned restaurant in 1980 arguably had a greater impact on dining, but no other restaurant has become an institution so quickly or resolutely as Temple Restaurant Beijing.

Four years in and TRB continues to exemplify the best that modern Beijing has to offer. Beyond winning our hearts during normal service, this year saw an impressive international guest chef programme, the launch of and the opening of events space Copper. We can’t imagine a Beijing without TRB – and it doesn’t look like we’ll have to any time soon.

Reader's choice Opera Bombana

Marinated Scampi Oscietra Caviar Sea Urchin Orange Chantilly and Citrus Dressing  腌渍新西兰鳌虾配鱼子酱,海胆及柑桔酱

The chef of the Year in Beijing 2015 as chosen by our expert panel of anonymous reviewers and countless votes from Time Out Beijing readers.



Max Levy, Okra

It’s hard to forget a conversation with Max Levy. He can tell you everything about how the confluence of jet streams off the Japanese coast made that slice of mackerel just so. It’s this meticulous care that makes Okra’s sushi some of the best in town. Then there’s Levy’s keyed-up creativity and intellectual intensity, which translates into unique dishes not only for the city, but on a global scale.

Take his impeccable roasted teriyaki fish head that speaks to culinary traditions where we are here in Beijing, but then throws in a twist. Working within the context of Beijing is a challenge rather than a block for Levy. Great miso is hard to procure, so instead he invents a red tofu smoked clam soup.

With a second Okra opening in Hong Kong, we can only say the islanders will be lucky to find themselves in Levy’s hands.



Aitor Olabegoya, Migas

‘Love what you do, wake up early, go to the market and have the passion. You cannot be lazy,’ Aitor Olabegoya told us when we asked what made a great chef. If only it were that simple. Olabegoya is up at dawn, cycling the length of the city between his test kitchens.

He has the passion, and lazy is the last thing he is, but there’s got to be something he’s not telling us. He’s wild and crazy with his food, and it works.

And then there’s his charisma and leadership. He’s attracted an impressive team of international talent with a ton of energy in its own right. Here’s major props to the culinary think tank that Olabegoya’s established over on the sixth floor of Nali Patio. Salud!

Readers’ choice

Li Dong, Jing Yaa Tang

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  • 4 out of 5 stars