2013 Mar 19 Capital Bites: New Mexican and New Noodles in Sanlitun
From steaks to noodles to curries, we've got a spread of cuisines to discuss this week in Capital Bites. First on the agenda, though, is the opening of
two three new venues.
News just in (post blog publishing) from the SALT team that zap urban eatery will open, as scheduled, tomorrow (Wednesday Mar 20) for coffee, cakes, milkshakes, sandwiches, hot chips, SALT pies & Cheese Bread. They will also offer a wine and beer list. The eatery is 5-1-103 Xingfu 3 Cun (the small street that runs from Xingdong Lu, via Luga's to Sanlitun) in the Chinese building just east of East Avenue Jenny Lou's. Find them daily from 10am-10pm. To sweeten the deal, for opening week, get a free Tim-Tam with every coffee purchased.
Sanlitun Village North continues to have increasing bustle. In the lower level, a new venture by the people behind 1949 called BBSP (big bowl small plate) has just opened. The interior design seems fitting for the feel of the building as a whole – sleek and futuristic. I looked in while passing late the other night. The seating is made up of large white tea cup shaped booths which created the impression of a space carnival. Intriguing to say the least. The menu hangs on the concept of the store name: big bowls of staples (noodle and rice dishes) for RMB 42-58 and small plates of meat and vegetables for RMB 12-22. There's a charming section of outliers under "neither big nor small" as well. We'll be back for a full review and will give you the inside scoop plus our thoughts on the meal itself shortly.
There has been much buzz about Cantina Agave arrival on the Beijing scene. They've been doing staff training over the past week and I had the chance to try it out last night. The Mexican restaurant and tequila bar originally began with the humble idea of a taco stand in Shanghai, but after four years Kelley Lee and Raffe Ibrahamian, the minds and souls behind the project, have found themselves with two Shanghai branches and now, a third here in our own city. The space is warm, welcoming, yet still classy, an unusual atmosphere for the Village South as one of our party remarked.
The bar currently has 90 tequilas stocked which sounds like trouble to me, but I'm sure some of you will be able to handle it. Once the weather warms up and the furniture arrives, tables on their upper level, private deck will seat 80. Right now they are waiting for the final approval from the fire inspector before opening with full force.
A proper review will wait until then, but for now consider blackened fish tacos, a superb salsa bar and rich creamy flan. My first impression is that this is a very, very good thing for (Cali) Mexican dining here in Beijing.
Look north a bit and the newly opened Mesa has just launched a brunch on both Saturday and Sunday with a breakfast platter, pastries and fresh smoothies. It starts at 10 am, so for Sanlitun partiers, hold out a bit longer after daybreak and save your cab fare home.
If that sounds too light, for the rest of March, Yi-House in 798 is offering a promotion to accompany their imported steaks from Australia. Order a black angus, wagyu or veal chop and get a free dessert or raw milk cheese in addition to your cut of beef.
Tadka currently has a special guest chef from India in-house and until April 27, they'll be promoting a menu of specialty dishes from Hyderabad. I had the chance to go for the opening night – look for the Murg Hyderabadi, the tender curried chicken falls apart in your mouth, and the Double Ka Meetha, a soft cake soaked in saffron cream and honeyed milk, for dessert hit that proclivity for the sickly sweet which Indian cuisine has and which I love.
Finally and most pressingly, leave the white tablecloths and silver cutlery and get your Tuesday evening on with the frontman Lei Jun of Misandao in a Punk Rock Noodle Cooking Workshop. As part of JUE | Music + Art 2013, he'll teach you how to make Hunanese-inspired noodles. The HutongCuisine Cooking School on Dengcao Hutong is hosting the workshop at 7 pm tonight. Tickets are RMB 150.
Photo: Cat Nelson