Beijing may be home to China’s cultural and historic gems, but Shanghai and its glitzy bars and restaurants all too often overshadow it. Now, though, Beijing has several new and buzzworthy restaurants of its own. Make these three a stop on your next trip and you’ll find that this capital city has more to offer than just walls and temples.
About 7,600 miles from Cape Town, Amber Deetlefs is serving South African food and wine in the expat-friendly Sanlitun area. This is the second branch of Pinotage, the first opened in 2007 in Shunyi, a far-flung suburb. The menu is well designed for those who want to try everything; dishes come in three sizes, so you can swing by for a solo lunch or, at a group dinner, eat your way through much of the menu. There’s less game on Pinotage’s menu than one would expect, but still plenty of meat for the carnivorous; among the many dishes are lamb shank dumplings, chicken liver and braised pork ribs. Although meat does play a starring role, vegetarians won’t fall by the wayside and can tuck into butternut squash risotto or a refreshing roasted cauliflower salad with sultanas and mascarpone. The lengthy wine list is focused mostly on South African pours you won’t find elsewhere in Beijing.
Noted Italian chef Umberto Bombana started his culinary career in Hong Kong, moved to Shanghai and finally landed in Beijing. His newest eponymous restaurant is appropriately housed in an upscale complex in the Chaoyang district that includes the ultra-luxe 100-room Hotel Eclat and a smattering of high-fashion brands, such as Stella McCartney and Mulberry. The restaurant boasts an onsite bakery churning out loaves of fluffy, crusty, dense and light-as-air bread all made from imported Italian flour. The menu is thick with classics — pasta, seafood and meats. Among the many dishes are standouts such as tagliatelle with zucchini and sea urchin, as well as buttery pork belly and pork confit. Plan ahead to eat dessert; Opera Bombana’s light gelato won’t weigh you down after the heavy meal.
It can be risky eating Cantonese 1,200 miles from Hong Kong, but Lu Yun’s dishes are fresh and well executed. Conrad Beijing’s Cantonese restaurant is, unsurprisingly, impeccably decorated, with service to match. Lu Yun has several unbeatable deals, including an all-you-can-eat dim sum lunch for ¥128 (about US$21). Notable favorites are the cha siu bao (barbecued pork buns) and any of the plump, juicy dumplings. Lu Yun, which has private dining rooms with space for up to 20, is great for large group gatherings. Canto novices who want to dip their toes in the cuisine without a trip to Hong Kong can do so with helpful suggestions from the waitstaff.
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