January 24, 2018
My wonderful lunch started off with a clear soup with a giant shrimp and pork meatball along with shredded bok choy. This was a very good way to start off a meal; it was nice and light, and the soup was seasoned perfectly. If anything, the meatball, itself, was a tad bland.
Shrimp & pork meatball soup w/bok choy:
I have eater.com to thank for this fantastic hotel restaurant that I tried for lunch today. It's GI tract good! The place is called Country Kitchen and it's located on the third floor of the Rosewood Hotel in Beijing's Financial District. Some crazily dangerous intersections notwithstanding, it was a pleasure walking almost three miles to get here from my hotel.
The staff was very polite, friendly and hip, yet not so much so that they had attitude. Yeah, it's definitely times like this when I wished I were traveling with others to enable me to try more dishes.
Because it was a hotel restaurant and with the yuppy crowd the joint was pulling in, the menu was priced accordingly. Warning: Be careful when ordering tea here. They'll bring out the menu for you to select your tea, and you're brought a pot of it. That's fine, but I didn't expect it to cost more than most of the dishes at almost $20. It was excellent tea, though!
I had dinner tonight at the Irish pub adjacent to the hotel; it was very cold out, so I wanted to stay close. They did a good job with the decor of the joint, plenty of carved, dark-stained wood, lamp shades hanging over the booths, etc. They had a couple of TV's at the bar, and even a baby grand piano which a customer was playing for a while. All the place needed was a jukebox, and I would've felt perfectly at home.
Country Kitchen has a small section on their menu called "Lost Recipes," wherein they've revived dishes that were popular in Beijing back in the 1950's. This pork belly dish was basically Peking duck. But wow, everything worked so well together. I'm not a fan of Peking duck because I find the buns are too filling; I enjoy it more when thin rice "tortillas" are served instead. Anyhow, these steamed buns were so light I couldn't believe it. The pork belly lightly roasted and cut very thin. Once I mixed a couple of slices of it with the light hoisin sauce, the red chili paste, onion and cucumber, it made just the perfect little sandwich. Yeah, none of it went to waste....
Lost Recipe pork belly:
My third dish was a serving of house-made pulled noodles with braised pork and chili oil. Once I mixed the sauce into the noodles and took a bite, it was heavenly! The braised pork was scant; I tasted it more than I saw it. The stalks of the leafy greens thrown in gave the dish that needed crunch.
Noodles w/braised pork & chili oil:
I like almost any dish that comes out piping hot, and this was no exception. That the beef was a tad chewy doesn't surprise me. It was still very tasty, the chili oil providing a nice, low-level heat with every bite. And because the dish was so hot in terms of both spiciness and temperature, I think I was able to ignore the cilantro, for the most part.
Sizzling beef w/chili oil:
My main was an order of shepherd's pie. Like the ribs, this dish was surprisingly good. The layer of mashed potatoes up top was baked evenly, and the ground beef was seasoned nicely. The only thing odd about the dish was that it seemed to be made with tomato sauce, which I don't think is normally the case with shepherd's pie. Regardless, it was very good.
I started out with an order of barbecue spare ribs while watching Liaoning and Beijing of the Chinese Basketball Association go at it. I was pleasantly surprised at how good these were. They didn't have too much sauce on them, they weren't too sweet, the meat fell off the bone. Very good all around!
BBQ spare ribs: