Heads up: Shanghai is slated to get its own Belgian Beer Cafe in the second half of the year and the search is on for a general manager for the nearly 200-seat restaurant. (See here for more about the Belgian Beer Cafe operation.)
The manager will be responsible for training and supervising the front-house staff, managing P&L, handling customer relations, ordering supplies, and keeping the restaurant in compliance with health codes, among other things. (I assume they will also have a taste a few Belgian beers in the interest of quality control.) He or she should have at least two years of experience in a Western-style restaurant, have in-depth knowledge of beer, wine, and food, and be fluent in spoken and written English.
This is part twenty in the Must Tries Series that asks people in the Beijing bar, restaurant, and wine business to give us their recommendations. This time up: Simon Amos, food and beverage manager at Hilton Beijing, on One East restaurant. (Heads up: The hotel will hold its annual pancake race next Tuesday, March 8.)
What is the “must try” food at One East?
Every Sunday we hold “An Authentic American Sunday Roast @ One East” (rmb198 plus 15% surcharge for three courses; rmb98 more for unlimited wine buffet). We offer something different to the normal mass market buffets in Beijing with our very relaxing “grown ups” Sunday lunch. The silver carving trolley is laden with an eight-kilo Australian prime rib of beef from which guests are carved unlimited servings accompanied by traditional Sunday roast trimmings. I even managed to get the chef to add traditional English Yorkshire pudding and crisp roast potatoes. Even though it’s an American restaurant, for me, Sunday roast is simply not the same without! The signatures for the Sunday lunch are dishes prepared and served table side, another of which is the Banana Fosters Flambe, a great American tradition and flamed with rum in the restaurant… it always draws a “wow!” from guests.
What is the “must try” drink at One East?
On top of the fantastic wine list and cocktails, every Thursday our resident sommelier, Julia Zhu, hosts our One East Wine Club (rmb150 plus 15 percent surcharge). Kicking off from 6:30 PM, Julia and the team take guests through a journey of some of the finest wine regions in the world with a relaxed interactive atmosphere and a sampling of five different wines accompanied by matching canapes. (Tip: Reserve a space at the bar in advance.)
What are three “must try” items at other venues in Beijing?
Every weekend I go with the family and try something new. Beijing is a great city for that, if you manage to get to the restaurant before it has closed!
1. Top of my list has to be the entire menu at the wonderful River Club… simply outstanding service and cooking.
2. Dumplings at Din Tai Fung… consistently excellent and attentive service.
3. A regular haunt for me and one of the few places we return time and time again… Bellagio for the fantastic crispy chicken!
My choices are places that have really connected with me in terms of experience, environment and consistency in the quality of food and service. There are also many more I could list. Can you change the question to “What are 10 ‘must try’ items at other venues in Beijing?”?
As with the previous seven editions of the Give a Crap Report, these are things that would happen in the Beijing bar and restaurant scene if only people listened to me, me, me!
59. Wine promotion outfits like California Wine Institute and Wine Australia would consider teaming up with Modo to use its two card-based enomatic machines, each of which can keep eight bottles of open wine fresh for up to three weeks. Maybe they could rent a machine for a month or two and stock it with more expensive and atypical wines than are usually seen in promotions. Seems like a low-cost low-risk way to promote a country’s wine, make distributors of that wine happy, and give customers access to samples — pours start at 25ml — from better bottles.
60. Given its positioning as a Canadian bar, The Box would replay the 2010 Olympic gold medal hockey game between Canada and the United States on February 28, the one-year anniversary of that epic face off, with a special on Moosehead and more poutine than you can shake a stick at. (Now that I know how it ends, I could watch it without risk of ulcer when the Americans tie the game with 24 seconds left in regular time.)
62. This one comes courtesy of The Wise Bartender, namely, that more bars state on their menus the size of their pours when it comes to spirits, wines, and draft beers. Is that whiskey pour 25ml or 50ml: nice to know before we order.
63. A downtown Korean restaurant would have a regular Korean street food night that includes dukpukki (sticky rice cylinders in red pepper paste with fish cake, onions, and other stuff), kimbap (steamed rice, egg and veggies rolled in seaweed), mandu (dumplings, especially kimchi stuffed ones), hoduk (pancake with brown sugar and cinnamon), and more. Korean street vendors make some of the world’s best late-night eats and we need them downtown.
64: This thing where employees are armed with walkie-talkies… please stop it. Why submit customers to loud static and garbled messages every few minutes in your otherwise quiet cafe or restaurant? Lots of places survive without such noise: so can yours!
65. The Jing Fling at Mao Mao Chong is among the best baijiu cocktails I have tasted and it might be even better if the baijiu were infused with plums rather than mixed with plum-infused vodka. Sounds like a worthy experiment…
I’ve asked many Beijing residents about their top five watering holes so for a change of pace I asked Shannon Roy to list the five best whiskeys widely available in our fair city. (If memory serves, the request came as we sampled some of the more than 100 whiskeys available at one of my favorite Beijing spots, Ichikura.) Like a red deer on a far hillside — hmm, where did I read that? — here they are…
Whether you’re getting into spirits because the carbs in beer are expanding your waistline, or you’ve always been curious about whiskey but simply don’t know where to start, or even if you just want to be able to bluff your way through a whiskey conversation, let me see if I can help you with any of those things in our smoky Chivas-quaffing city of Beijing.
To be clear: this is not a “Top 5″ enumerating my personal favourite tipples. Nor is it a list of obscure 100-plus-single-malt bars (although there are more of these in Beijing than ever and most of them are great). Or the obscure name-dropping whiskeys you can find at said bars, or how to pronounce the names of said whiskeys! This is a Top 5 of truly great whiskeys that you can get basically anywhere in Beijing – for reasons as obscure as distributor/barkeep guanxi and as unambiguous as China’s import tax policy.
1. Johnnie Walker Black. Available everywhere. Sometimes things are popular because they are actually great. Forget the Red (which is like being smacked in the mouth with a burning tire) but the Black is all good. I never cease to shake my elitist head in amazement that something so available and so fundamentally 18th Century in outlook is just so reliably good here in 2010. The sweet liquorice or maple syrup is firmly in the velvet-over-iron grip of the Talisker-derived salt. Big rolling-tobacco and vanilla palate (Jackson’s notes: “marijuana”). Sweet fading to mellow in the finish.
2. The Macallan 12. Available at an astonishingly vast number of cafes and eateries in Beijing, which is awesome because it’s a terrific after dinner whiskey. Without ice, of course. Lightly watered, if that’s your thing. Buttery, Christmas pudding beginning. The palate is Mrs Field’s cookies when you’ve left them overnight and heated them up in a microwave — yum! A lovely long wine-like finish with very little “smoke” which, again, suits the after meal theme.
3. Highland Park 21. You may not be able to find the 21 as easily as some of its younger siblings, but anything from the 12 and up is going to be great. Surprisingly available. Although it doesn’t have a cool marketable “Celtic” name like Auchentoshan or Lagavulin, Highland Park 21 took out Whisky Magazine’s “World’s Best” in 2009. It’s just that good. And actually, if you add a (very) little water, “Highland Park” is a great name, redolent as it is with smoke from your campfire, dark chocolate from your hiking rations, heather, venison on the spit, and a glimpse of a red deer on a far hillside to give you that wild unpredictability of nature’s elements.
4. Taketsuru 21. Another blend! And not even a “scotch”! Sacrilege! But this is a great blend that, again, passes the availability test because of Beijing’s huge array of Japanese, Korean, and Japanese-and-Korean themed restaurants. I’ve found this as the only non-sake in even very small places. Stay away from the 12-year-old of the same name (really, it’s utterly unremarkable) but the 21 has lovely coffee-and-expensive-leather notes with a delightfully different finish (like Lao Chen Cu on Bitter Melon).
5. Talisker 10. To return to my theme, I’m always amazed to find this so freely and readily available in Beijing. It is the “Big Skye” I guess, and certainly deserves its place on any list of the truly good and great, but this is about availability in China’s capital, which means the Talisker pips out some of the Islays I could have filled a “Personal Top 5″ with. Jim Murray called this “razor-sharp” and he was right. It’s got a huge build-up, which keeps devolving different complexions as it moves across the palate. A true banked-hearth scotch finish.
Shannon Roy has lived and worked in Beijing since 2002. Traditionally a “software guy” he now earns his whiskey money as an independent board member on a half-dozen foreign-invested Chinese companies, doing his bit to improve corporate governance, one fired rogue CEO at a time.
This is part nineteen in the Must Tries Series that asks people in the Beijing bar, restaurant, and wine business to give us their recommendations. This time up: manager Alex Molina and chef Daniel Urdaneta of Modo (and also of Mosto).
What is the “must try” food at Modo?
Urdaneta: From our evening menu of small plates to share, the Wagyu Beef Meatball with Heirloom Tomato Sauce (rmb80), because it is one of the most popular. Same goes with the Spinach & Ricotta Malfatti with Roasted Pears, Mushrooms and Shaved Pecorino Cheese (rmb75). It melts in the mouth and is such a pleasure to serve as this dish is rarely seen on pasta menus.
What is the “must try” drink?
Molina: To accompany the five or six different plates people typically order to share, I recommend trying some of the different wines from our Enomatic wine dispenser. [The machine includes 16 wines and allows small pours of 25ml up to full pours of 150 ml. See here.]
What are three “must try” items at other venues in Beijing?
Molina: I love Sureno’s pizzas! I would also recomend the afternoon tea at Capital M. Last but not least… Nobu, as soon as it opens.
A Somewhat Steady China Hand on the Local Bar Scene