I love having ice cream in winter. There is something about having ice cream in the cold that makes it extra pleasurable and enjoyable. I was doing some shopping at the Indigo mall with my siblings and had a sudden craving for ice cream. I have passed by the Vai Milano store many times, and this time I decided to give it a try, it would be good to expand my choices of ice cream from the usual Baskin Robins, Cold Stone, and Häagen-Dazs. Other than gelato, they also serve cakes, sorbet, and coffee. Vai Milano’s gelatos are freshly made with natural ingredients.
We ordered a dark chocolate and pistachio gelato cone. The texture of the gelato is between traditional and soft ice cream. The dark chocolate was creamy, rich and decadent, one of the best I’ve had. The pistachio was an acquired taste for me. It had a strong pistachio flavor. It took a series of licks of the gelato for my taste bud to accept the flavor.
Al Safir is my go-to place for middle eastern food – good value for good food. The restaurant is not big, there are 6 tables inside. When the weather is warmer, there will be tables outside to accommodate more customers. Al Safir is not as fancy as the other middle eastern restaurants in Beijing but the food is one of the best. The menu has a good selection along with pictures which are very helpful when ordering especially for those who are not familiar with the dishes.
I always order the lentil soup when I’m here. It’s hearty and savory. The lemon juice adds a zing to the flavor. The vegetable soup was not too bad, nothing exceptional.
The fattoush is a great tangy palate-cleansing salad. It is a toasted pita bread salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, and cucumber. I love the crunchiness and juiciness of the salad. The Moutabal (eggplant and tahini dip) on the other hand was too sour for me. So I did not have too much of it.
The Bamya bel lahmeh is popular Arabic okra with lamb stew. It is a strong tomato-based stew but not offsetting. You can have it with rice or on its own as a soup. The kebab platter consists of beef, lamb, and chicken. The meat was tasty and succulent. There are two dips for the meat, one is a tomato and onion dip, and the other is some kind of mayo dip which is absolutely delicious, it gives the meat an extra boost in flavor.
One of my favorite rice dishes is the Kabsa chicken. The chicken is tender and comes right off the bone. It is lightly seasoned so it still retains its natural chicken flavor. There are yogurt and a special sauce that you can add to the rice for more flavor. The saffron rice is just plain saffron rice ..haha.
My friend and I had brunch at this lovely rustic boutique hotel restaurant tucked away in a hutong located in the ‘old city’ part of Beijing (Gulou). This hotel is pretty hidden, so I had to use a map on my phone to locate it. The hotel also has a pickup service for a fee if needed.
I’m used to dining in a more contemporary setting at the more modern busy part of the city, so dining at the toast was a refreshing experience. There is an indoor and terrace dining area. There is a warm cozy feel to the restaurant. Most of the waiters are foreigners so one does not have to worry about language. Since it was a lovely day, we opted for the terrace. I could see the bell tower from the terrace along with the rooftops of the Chinese-style houses. I really liked that the surrounding was adorned with greenery. Shortly after we placed our order, it started to get windy, so we had to go indoor.
The brunch menu is a tight menu of Mediterranean and Western inspired dishes. I ordered a Cappuccino and The Full Chinglish (seared spinach, a poached egg, Andy’s homemade maple sausages, flatbread, potato, and seasonal fruits). My friend ordered the Cake for Breakfast (organic rye flour buttermilk pancakes served with homemade cinnamon syrup and seasonal fruits) and cookies with roasted almonds. The ingredients were fresh. Both the Full Chinglish and pancakes were delicious. The only issue I had was that the spinach had a little too much salt on it. The cookies were a little disappointing. They were average.
Overall, we had an enjoyable brunch and I am looking forward to my next trip!
The German restaurant, Paulaner Brauhaus, at the Kempinski Hotel is my go-to place for good German food. The restaurant has an expansive beer garden and a large indoor Bavarian decorated dining area. It also has its own microbrewery.
Complimentary bread basket
The breadbasket I was served consists of three types of bread – Pretzels, rye bread, and oatmeal bread, accompanied by three different spreads. The liverwurst and the homemade butter was absolutely divine with the bread.
Altdeutsche Tomatensuppe Traditional German tomato soup with rice and meat dumplings
A nice hearty bowl of soup for a chilly day! The tomato soup was thick and tangy. I don’t think I’ve ever had a tomato soup as rich as this.
Halbes Wiesnhendl Roasted half chicken
The roasted chicken was a disappointment. The chicken was dry and somewhat bland.
The potato salad was decent, however, in my opinion, there was too much lemon juice in the dressing that it overpowered all other flavors.
Schnitzel von der Poulardenbrust
Vienna style Chicken schnitzel
Schnitzel perfection! The chicken was tender and juicy, the crust was flavorful and crunchy. The lemon juice gives the chicken a nice tangy flavor. The Schnitzel comes with tomato salad, cranberries and pan-fried potatoes with bacon and onions.
Rich and moist! Lovely!
The prices of the dishes are little high compared to other German restaurants in Beijing. It would cost around RMB500 ( $75 ) for two people. However, if you love German food, this is the place to be!
The Brasserie Flo is a quaint restaurant with a beautiful courtyard and a bar area. The setting reminiscent of 19th century Paris. I love the warmth of the vintage wooden interior and chandeliers. I have driven passed this restaurant many times and have been wanting to dine there. Finally, I did! I went with a friend two days ago to try out their business lunch special. The business lunch special comes in three price groups (RMB 148, RMB 188, RMB 198). We chose the RMB 188 lunch special which includes an entrée, a main course (Chef specialty), a dessert and tea or coffee.
We were served two amuse-bouche and a bread basket with their own made butter. I am not quite sure what the green one was but the mini bruschetta was bursting with flavor! The flavor was amazing! The tuna was good and fresh, and the bread was crusty on the outside, warm and soft on the inside.
For the entrée, I had the salade de foie gras “Rougie” (“Rougie” foie gras with fig, Granny Smith apple salad, and crispy fig brioche). The salad greens were very fresh and the foie gras was rich and flavorful. These two combined had a certain je ne sais quoi to it.
Next, I had the crépinette de porc Rossini, purée, sauce périgourdine (“Le Pont de l’Ouysse” truffle and pork crépinette with seared foie gras, mashed potato, périgourdine sauce. On the menu, it stated that this was a Michelin star dish. If this was indeed a Michelin star dish, then I was somewhat disappointed. It didn’t blow me away. The overall taste was nothing exceptional.
For dessert, it was the Crème brûlée and red velvet cake. The Crème brûlée was fantastic. Very creamy! The red velvet cake … let’s just say, I have had better ones.
At the end of our meal, we were given a complimentary basket of Madeleines and a box canelés. The canelés were gorgeous!
Overall, I enjoyed my dining experience at the Flo profoundly. Each dish had an aesthetic appeal and the waiters were friendly and attentive.
It was a polluted day, and I didn’t feel like staying at home. So my friend and I decided to chill at the China World Summit Wing hotel lounge, perched up on the 80th floor of Beijing’s tallest building. I know it’s not the best of days to be up so high, seeing that the view would just be smog.
We went to the lounge after dinner. It was dimly lit, with lounge jazz music playing in the background. The lounge attracts mostly foreigners, couples, and rich Chinese second generations. One can dine at The Lounge, or select from the array of beverages offered.
I ordered a peppermint tea and my friend ordered some kind of South African red tea.
Other than chilling, we also brought along our work. After working for some period of time, we felt like having dessert. I ordered a chocolate mousse with raspberry jelly and my friend the Tiramisu. The fudge cake was rich but not too sweet. The texture was somewhat dry. The Tiramisu came in a cup made of white chocolate. It was 90 percent cream and hardly any cake. The cream was good quality and the taste was decent.
The Opposite House is a boutique hotel located in the heart of Sanlitun. Its emerald glass exterior
makes it hard for one to miss. The cafe is located next on the ground floor, next to the hotel’s large central atrium with various art sculptures on display. The cafe is a great place to have brunch or lunch. It is a popular spot for the foreigners and is usually busy during brunch/lunch on the weekends. I like its chilled, casual, and naturally lit setting.
I also like their simple contemporary menu, so one is not overwhelmed by choices. There are burgers, sandwiches, steaks, pasta, and salads.
I ordered the smoked turkey on rye with avocado, coriander, tomato, lettuce and cheddar cheese. It was decent and hearty. The lotus root crisps were delicious. I was going to order a dessert but I was stuffed! So I ordered a Cappuccino instead.
All in all, great environment, good service, and great food!
The Park Hyatt Lounge is perched up on the 63rd floor of the Yintai building, situated right across the street from the China World trade center. On a good day, you get a breathtaking 360-degree panoramic view of the city. The lounge offers a serene environment with lounge jazz music playing in the background, creating a relaxing atmosphere, perfect for meetings or just to chill. I love coming here to read or to do work because of the environment and that the noise level is relatively low. The staff here are friendly and professional. The lounge mostly attracts couples and business clientele.
I ordered a Cappuccino. It came with a bite-size lemon coffee cake. The coffee was decent, light and smooth. The cake was moist and mouth watering. I also ordered a black forest. It was different from all the other black forest cakes I’ve had. It tasted more like a chocolate mousse cake. There was only a thin slice of cake in the middle and the rest was cream. The cream was velvety and not too sweet. My friend ordered a cheesecake topped with blueberry cream. The blueberries were fresh and the cake was smooth and rich.
Niajo is a little authentic Spanish restaurant tucked away on the 3rd floor of Nali Patio (A Mediterranean-style courtyard mall). This is my favorite place to come for Spanish food. The place is dimly lit with a window view on one side of the restaurant with an elegant and sophisticated ambiance. Great place to bring a date.
The manager is a Filipino, he was very welcoming and friendly. On special occasions such as birthdays, they will give a complimentary drink.
Ensalada queso cremoso, frutos rojos, berenjena, pepino, tomates, y aceitunas
The goat cheese salad with forest berries and eggplant was interesting. I’ve never been fond of any kind of fruit dressing but this one turned out to be very flavorful. It had the right amount of dressing so it wasn’t too sweet and overwhelming. It went well with the goat cheese and lettuce.
Croquetas de jamon iberico de bellota y pollo
The croquettes are one of my favorite dishes and a must-try. I ordered the chicken and ham croquettes. They were crispy on the outside and deliciously creamy on the inside. Taste like a crispy creamy chicken pie. Love it!
The chicken paella was mouth watering. The portion was perfect for two. The chicken was tender and the beans were well cooked. The first time I had their paella, it came with some kind of garlic cream which went amazing with the rice dish. But this time there wasn’t. It was still good nonetheless.
If you are looking for an authentic Spanish gastronomy experience in Beijing, this is the place to be!
3rd Floor Nali Huayuan (Nali Patio)
81 Sanlitun Bei Lu, Chaoyang District
The Missa restaurant (formerly known as Mesa) is located on the 3rd floor in Sanlitun’s vibrant North village offering a continental menu. We went during brunch week. The tables are sufficiently spaced and I liked that there are tables by the windows. The only downside is that it is situated in the hallway. The sound is level is relatively low. The manager is very friendly and accommodating.
The sweet pea soup was delicious. The egg and bacon were a little dry but the french toast was amazing – moist and delicious. The sprinkle of icing sugar on top added the right amount of sweetness.
I specified that I wanted my steak well done, which was how I like it, but it was medium cooked. I definitely did not enjoy that. The scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, and toast was decent.
For dessert, we had the green tea cake and fruit granola yogurt parfait. The green tea cake wasn’t amazing, the cake was dry and the taste was bland. The parfait was gratifying. The yogurt was smooth and rich- not too sweet. The harmonized combination of the honey, fruit, and yogurt, made this parfait unforgettable. I highly recommend it!