With Summer on the Way, Outdoor Grilling Banned Again ... and Cucumber Dishes As Well
First they take our chuan'r, now they're after our mao dou (edamame) and stewed peanuts.
On Sunday, nine government departments jointly issued the "Interim Measures on Management of Summer Al Fresco Dining"《北京市消夏露天餐饮经营管理暂行办法》, to be effective May 1, which requires all grilling to be moved indoors, restricts where outdoor dining may take place, and bans the serving of cold dishes outside as well.
"Summer food preparation should take place indoors, then be served outdoors. Outdoor barbecuing, food preparation, or the sale of other foods are not permitted," the report said. Violators of the outdoor barbecue ban face fines of up to RMB 20,000.
Also banned are – no we're not kidding – "decorative cakes, raw seafood products, and cold dishes." That means cold dishes including pai huanggua (cucumbers with garlic), seaweed, and liang pi. Summer delights such as cold edamame and stewed peanuts are to be served warm.
We don't understand either.
And in news that may hit a lot of our favorite establishments with streetside seating, the regulations say restaurants are banned from placing seating outside the physical boundaries of their indoor premises. Although terraces are permitted to restaurants licensed to operate them, many more do it not on the basis of permission but rather on accepted practice. Seen as interfering with the flow of pedestrian traffic, violators may be fined between RMB 1,000 to 10,000.
One 2013 Beijinger Reader Bar and Club Awards-winning venue we contacted said they hadn't heard anything about the new regulation, which was literally front-page headline news in this morning's Beijing News. "It could affect our outdoor seating. It might also affect the chuan'r place down the street," the owner said.
This is not the first time outdoor dining has been targeted by city officials. 2013 saw widespread crackdown on outdoor grilling, specifically by streetside merchants of lamb skewers. Five hundred illegal grills were destroyed as part of the campaign, though the practice, a long-time Beijing tradition, seems almost impossible to fully eradicate.
Dongcheng District Law Enforcement Bureau Officer Zhang Shuxia said he did not expect enforcement to be easy. "On the one hand, this kind of dining is very popular, and so it's a big business. On the other, both customers and businesses will not cooperate with law enforcement, or will cooperate with each other to give law enforcement difficulties."
All of this is being chalked up to hygiene and pollution control measures, although it's ok for kids to continue peeing on the street.
Photo: Peking Kacsa