Category Archives: (Must Tries Series)

josh lolly lush wudaokou beijing

Mud Pies and Adios MF: The ‘must tries’ from Josh Lally of Lush and Pyro

Welcome to episode thirty-eight of the Must Tries Series, where the people running the city’s restaurants and bars make recommendations from their menus and from other spots, too. Up this time, legendary quiz master and Wudaokou crew member Josh Lally of Lush and Pyro Pizza, a supporter of the city’s education scene for nearly a decade.

josh lolly lush wudaokou beijing
L is for lemon… and Lush.

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What is the must-try pizza at Pyro?

It would be a complete cop out to say “all of them”, so I won’t be that guy. I’m a pretty basic guy at heart, so I love the pepperoni, occasionally with extra pepperoni and mushrooms or black olives. And it doesn’t hurt that we use American pepperoni and Anchor mozzarella cheese from New Zealand. We also make a pretty kick-ass nacho beef pizza. But the best thing about pizza is that you can customize it how you want it. So the best pizza we have is the one that you order with exactly what you want on it!

How about cocktails at Lush?

The simple answer is: any of the epic cocktails. At 1.3 liters, they’re the best to share or to kick-start your night into high gear. The Adios MF is the go-to for most students and with nine shots of genuine alcohol (I regularly test our supply, much to my liver’s chagrin), it’s definitely the old reliable. And I’d be the world’s worst quiz master if I didn’t promote the fact that our epics are only 100 rmb on Wednesday nights when I host our award-winning (shameless, I know) quiz. It’s been called the hardest (and most fun) in Beijing.

Note: A pro tip for those of you cautious about the city’s alcohol supply. Order a shot straight up and taste it. If it tastes like nail polish remover, you’re only out a few rmb and your liver will thank you. If it tastes legit, pour the remainder of the shot into your mixed drink and make it a double! And stick to alcohols that you know the flavor of. It’s not foolproof, but it will save you from the most dubious stuff.

Next up: shooters.

Nothing better represents the student life quite like tequila. It may not be fancy, but it gets the job done. I think one of the most common exchanges is:

“Get me anything. Well, anything but tequila.”
“Here you go!”
“F U! I said no tequila!”
“Shut up and drink it!”

Let’s move back to food. What’s the must-try at Lush?

The burger. I’m quite partial to the Spicy Burger, with chipotle mayo, pepperjack cheese, and jalapeno peppers for a triple kick (as well as lettuce, tomato, and onion).

For dessert, the Mud Pie is amazing and made in-house, and has been the best-selling dessert on the menu since our inception. I could go on and on about the many little things we do to guarantee quality and authenticity, but we’re going for highlights rather than novel-length dissertations.

Outside of Lush, what are three “must tries” you recommend around Beijing?

Only three? Beijing has really grown into quite a wonderful city for the bar and restaurant scene, and is light years ahead of where it was when I first landed in February 2005. But narrowing it down to three, I think these would have to be the ones:

Only held a handful of times through the year, I’d definitely say that anyone who loves a party absolutely has to experience a Yen party. If you’re lucky enough to be in the city for the Halloween Fetish party, it’s my personal fave, and one of the largest parties in Asia.

Ganges. They’ve been around for ages, and while it’s a bit pricy, it’s just solid every time I order it. Delivery is fast, the food is good and filling (and super easy to nuke the next day), and it’s awesome when you order it on a Sunday afternoon and pick at it all day over movies on the couch.

And I love the Carnivore pizza from Gung Ho!, especially on whole wheat crust (so I can tell myself I’m being healthy with my choice) and accompanied by the Xinjiang spice pack they send along. Delicious.

carl setzer great leap brewery photo

Honey Ma for McFly: The ‘must tries’ of Carl Setzer of Great Leap Brewery

Sticking peppercorns in beer sounds like something you would do to a buddy who left a drink unattended to go take a leak. But Great Leap Brewery makes that combo and more work in its brew Honey Ma Gold, one of the items owner Carl Setzer chooses below in part 39 of the Must Tries Series, where people in the biz gives us their menu picks. Also of note, Great Leap will hold a Beers for Books event this Saturday, from 4 PM to midnight, with rmb15 from every beer — and every pie delivered from Hutong Pizza — going to The Library Project. Get more details here.

carl setzer great leap brewery photo
Vat’s up? (Pic: Great Leap Brewery)

If someone shows up at Great Leap with time to try just one beer before leaving Beijing forever, what would you recommend as the “must try” brew?

It really depends on the person. We usually start by asking what kinds of beers they usually enjoy and go from there. But if it was literally a Marty McFly situation and the Iranian terrorists are closing in and he needs a beer to help him survive the trip back in time, I would roll the dice and recommend the Honey Ma Gold, brewed with Sichuan peppercorns and date honey. It is our most popular beer and represents our entire company culture. We started Great Leap to make beers that were distinct for Chinese palates, using local ingredients, so if they were going to leave Beijing forever, that would be where I would steer them.

What if someone wants to have a three- or four-pint session but stick with the same beer? What is the “must try” brew for him or her?

If people are looking for a good session beer we usually recommend the Pale Ale #6 or the East City Porter. They are light on your wallet at 25 rmb a glass and are designed to be drunk en masse. It of course depends on your goal though as some guys want to get ripped on a three or four beer night. For those we recommend the Aggressor, the HopGod 120 or any of our Liu the Brave spiced stouts. These beers are a bit bigger, a bit more flavorful, but also higher in alcohol content.

What is the “must try” beer for your fellow brewmasters, for people who really know their stuff?

The first time the Beijing Brewmaster’s table was held at Great Leap, we as a company were only four months old. I knew Andreas Roerhl and Tobias Palmer from conferences, but never expected them to care about our small craft brewery, so when my phone rang and Andy said he was bringing nine German brewmasters from all over northeast China, I considered making an excuse and going home, but my wife told me to grow a pair.

They came at 7 PM, stayed until 1 AM and made me an official member of their table. Now when Andy comes with Wolfgang from Paulaner, they like to try the beers that are brewed often, but have unique attributes like the Iron Buddha Blonde, made with oolong tea, or the Cinnamon Rock Ale, made with local rock candy sugar and Vietnamese cinnamon.

But when Mike Jordan of Boxing Cat Brewery, Leon Mickelson of The Brew @ Kerry Parkside, and Teddy Gowan of Dr. Beer come up from Shanghai for our China Craft Brewer’s Association meetings they like to try the beers that take the most time, like the Three Door Tripel or the Imperial Pumpkin. Last year when I had them all in town at once, before the Beijing Craft Beer Festival, we tapped the Russian Imperial Stout that we aged in a fresh oak barrel c/o Jim Boyce for my birthday [More on that barrel here - Ed] It’s stuff like that that interest other brewmasters and also makes being a brewmaster fun. “What’s the craziest shit you are doing right now? OK, I’ll have a glass of that.”

On to other venues. What are three “must try” drinks or foods elsewhere in Beijing?

I’m pretty boring when it comes to going out. I have a couple of things that I enjoy, but only get to try a couple times a year. One is the DK 1308 Oktoberfest and Christmas beers. Anyone that says that Germans don’t make craft beer is an ill-informed boob. Those are some of the best beers in Beijing and I wish Andy would do them all year, but you know, he’s Bavarian, so if he did they would throw him into brewer’s jail.

The other thing that I think is a can’t miss for Beijing is 1976 BBQ chicken wings in Danshanzi, northeast from Lido. Its a hole-in-the-wall place, but the chicken wings are amazing and they have the coldest Yanjing bottles in the city. Never had a bad experience there.

One thing that I never have enough time to do, but would do all the time if I could afford it, is hang out at The Drive-Thru beer and bottle shop. Those guys know their shit and have some of the best selections in the city.

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Must Tries: Will Yorke on The Vine Leaf, beer, pork pies

Welcome to episode thirty-seven of the Must Tries Series, where Beijing bar and restaurant people give us the top picks from their menus and suggest other places to try, too. Up this time, Will Yorke of The Vine Leaf, who previously made picks for sibling establishment The Vineyard. Look for Yorke to open a third place in the spring.

will-yorke-vineyard-cafe-1What is the “must try” food at Vine Leaf?

Steak and Ale Pie (rmb68): We slow cook beef steak pieces in homemade beef stock and homemade English Ale and serve it with mashed potato, peas, baby carrots and gravy.

What is the “must try” beer?

We offer up to five beers, if we can, but the biggest sellers are the Longbowmen English Session Ale made with English hops and English yeast, a real smooth “slip down” beer, and the Pilgrim’s Progress USA Amber Ale made with U.S. hops and U.S. yeast, a fruity, aromatic smooth ale.

What is the “must try” food you hope to add?

I have been fighting with pork pies for a while. If I can make a pork pie like it is done in the UK then I will be happy. Customers are very keen on the Scotch egg we already have on the menu, but it needs a big brother – the pork pie – then I can put together a nice ploughman’s “lunch” for the summer.

I already have a number of pickles I am maturing, including a plum chutney made with plums I picked up from the Huairou mountains on the way to the Gung Ho mountain hideout.

What are three “must try” foods or drinks you’ve had elsewhere in Beijing?

From DS wines, the Clos Dominic Vinyes Baixes 2007, a Spanish Priorat red wine – made with Cariñena, Garnacha Tinta, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Picapoll. And the Gramona III Lustros 2005 Gran Reserva Cava – like a high-end Champagne but at an affordable Champagne price. (Both are now available at Vineyard Cafe.)

Food-wise, we go to Suzumei Japanese restaurant a lot as their sashimi is great.

The yang rou chuanr on the crossroads north of Chun Xiu Lu South Road mouth (the crossroads by the Holiday Inn) are a weekly must. There is no indoor seating, so in the winter it is only for the brave.

I enjoy a burger at Frost.

Most of the time I grab something on my way home as I don’t have a lot of time to enjoy eating out as I need to get home to get the kid to bed.

Must Tries Series: Paul Rochon of Le Petit Gourmand

Welcome to part thirty-six of the Must Tries Series, which asks people working in the Beijing bar and restaurant scene for the top picks from their menus. Up this time, Paul Rochon of Le Petit Gourmand, who came on board late last year at this Tongli Studio establishment. LPG now does a RMB98 weekend brunch and hosts monthly wine tastings, live music events and special dinners.

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What is the ‘must try’ dish at Le Petit Gourmand?

For the ‘must try’ dish, I think I’ll pick the ratatouille (rmb46). This is a vegetable stew famous from the south of France. When I first asked our chef to prepare it, he really surprised me with the quality and we put it directly on the “a la carte” menu.

What is the ‘must try’ cocktail at the bar?

I’ll pick the Zinc Special (rmb50). It includes vodka, Grand Marnier, strawberries, muddled spices and cranberry juice.

And the ‘must try’ wine?

That would be our wine of the month (rmb55). We are working hard to find new wines and have a monthly “Art of Wine” tasting hosted by specialists. Last month, we had Cotes du Rhone, this month we have South Africa and next month we will have Italian wine.

What are some must tries for you at other places?

I never miss my weekly meal of Yunnan noodles (rmb28) at the little Yunnan restaurant at the crossing of Dongzhimen Nei and Dongzhimen Bei. I also like the Wednesday quiz night at Paddy O’Shea’s — with a pint of Guinness (rmb55) and a pizza (rmb55).

Must Tries Series: Cao Jian at The Tree

Welcome to part thirty-five of the Must Tries Series, which asks people working in the Beijing bar and restaurant scene for the top picks from their menus. In this edition, Cao Jian of The Tree, a favorite stop for many in search of pizza, Belgian beer or late-night drinks.

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What is the ‘must try’ beer at The Tree?

Karmeliet, a Belgian beer. It is strong, in terms of alcohol, but light in taste and just a touch sweet. We have it by the bottle.

What is the ‘must try’ pizza?

All of the pizzas are good. If I had to pick one, I would say pepperoni. Almost everyone likes that one.

And the ‘must try’ cocktail?

The Long Island. It’s very popular. Lots of people come to The Tree just to order it.

What are some ‘must try’ items at other places?

I like the atmosphere and the drinks at Mesh in The Opposite House.

San Yang Chai, behind Vics at Workers Stadium North. It has good Sichuan food.

Haidilao: This place has good hotpot and I like to go there with my girlfriend or with friends.