Sifang Sanchuan

  • Venue
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Sichuan
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Guizhou
1 Sanlitun
Mercedes Me is a ‘lifestyle house and experience shop’ from the revered German automaker that’s being introduced around the world. The idea is to provide a holistic lifestyle experience with its high-end restaurant, café and bar, as well as a swanky car showroom.

The new Sanlitun location, the first in Mainland China, opened its doors last month with possibly the most over-the-top, glammed-up launch party of the year. The Beijing location is also the first Mercedes Me in the world with a Chinese restaurant. But with so many Chinese cuisines to choose from, which did the illustrious car company choose to represent its brand in China? It’s complicated.

The name Sifang Sanchuan is a humblebrag reference to the cradle of Chinese civilisation and the three rivers that sustained it. The menu preface talks a good game, promising a 'dynamic, exhilarating process of self exploration, discovery and actualization'. And all without a service charge.

The dining room glows with soft golden light. Suspended orbs of lattice-bound yellow fabric hover over each table. Waitresses pace the perimeter, ready to pounce on any unsuspecting chopstick-fumbler. Brass accents and roughspun yellow upholstery cement the colour scheme. It’s all very nice, but none of this gives us a clue as to what to expect from the kitchen.

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Ostensibly the menu is Sichuanese but with a very wide brief, which gives it the feel of a hotel 'Chinese regional' restaurant or a chain that lost its personality three second-tier cities ago. The menu is large and unfocused, covering the gamut of regional Chinese food, almost like it’s trying to not offend.

With some helpful recommendations from the staff, an order is finally made from the huge menu. Dishes arrive with breakneck speed and chopsticks flitter between cold dishes of sliced pigs ear in Sichuan peppercorns and chilli oil, mouth-numbing cold poached chicken with chillies, and marinated sliced beef with spicy sauce. The cool, gelatinous textures conceal a smoldering heat, but the artless, even sloppy, presentation does nothing to highlight the natural contrast of bright green and red.

A plate of fragrant Lijiang-style stir-fried chicken with peppers and fermented bamboo shoots is next. The morsels of chicken are juicy, and the flavour of the sweet peppers and fermented tang of the bamboo shoots give the dish an extra lift.

As it’s served, a glass of raw egg and jasmine blossoms is poured over scalding-hot river stones resting in a clay pot. The egg and blossom mixture is airy, with a soft velvety texture brimming with floral aromas.

A bowl of poached seafood, mushroom and dried chillies occupies us next. Medallions of tender scallop and chunks of bright pink lobster float to the surface, and the bowl is reduced to oil and dried chillies in no time.

The drinks list sports two of Mercedes Me’s own wines, which are both perfectly drinkable. The remainder of the wine list, like much of Sifang Sanchuan, feels a little restrained. In general, the restaurant feels inconsistent with scale and spirit of Mercedes Me worldwide. The concept is designed to appeal to Merc-starved Mainlanders, but is 'just another Sichuan restaurant' really what this wealthy group of tastemakers is after? We think not.

This place lacks identity. With little by way of defining features to make it stand out other than its address, Sifan Sanchuan is just another good Sichuan chain, reliably putting out a familiar canon of dishes. A good meal is to be had at Sifang Sanchuan, but we expected more drive from this high-end concept.
Venue name: Sifang Sanchuan
Contact:
Opening hours: 11am-3pm, 5-10pm daily
English address: Second floor Mercedes Me 1 Sanlitun Chaoyang district
Chinese address: 朝阳区三里屯1号Mercedes Me 2层
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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