It seems we here at the Beijinger have a burger problem. The problem, you ask? Not enough burgers.
Yes, we're still digging around Beijing for even more burgers, apparently still unfulfilled after our Burger Cup, and our greasy radar has led us to our next port of call: Li Burgerwich Diner and Bar, which opened at the end of last month and is located just off of Xingfuercun, on the second floor of the building next to Parlor.
Li is named after The Book of Rites (Li Ji, 礼记), a collection of writings on social forms, administration, and ceremonial rites composed during the Zhou dynasty (1046-771 BC), and constitutes the rituals of the Five Classics at the core of the Confucian canon. How this relates to good ol' barbecue meats we're not entirely sure; the owners couldn't really verbalize the thinking behind the name, but also called it Burgerwich, so the lofty and the low balance out just fine.
Formerly a Latin dance room, this airy space has over 75 seats and large windows but doesn’t look “brand new.” Instead it opts for a vintage American style thanks to the chairs and furniture that co-owner Alvin Zhao collected and shipped over from boutiques in Seattle. Highlights include an 80-year-old functioning fridge and brownish-red benches that stretch along the windows and which once served as church pews during World War II.
The menu here is simple and uncluttered, including salads (RMB 55-70); seven burgers (veggie, beef, chicken, shrimp, fish, and pork, RMB 60-85); burritos (RMB 65-70) and tacos (RMB 55-80 for three). There's also a range of snacks, such as spicy deviled eggs (RMB 35), Mexican beef meatballs with mashed potato (RMB 45), lemon chicken (RMB 30), and deep-fried chicken wings (RMB 60).
We kicked things off with the spicy deviled eggs (RMB 35), which were simple enough and featured egg yolks mixed with thousand island sauce and topped with Thai bird's eye chili and peppermint, spooned back into the boiled egg whites. The filling was flavorful and made for a combination of sauce and yolk, and a nice spicy burn from the fresh peppermint and chilies
As for the mains, it was the gourmet Mexican beef burrito (RMB 70, pictured above) and mint and mutton tacos (RMB 80) that came out on top. The former could be faulted for beef that fell on the wrong side of dry but the addition of coconut loosened the flavors and set things straight. The latter was simply a trio of tacos served with mutton, shredded lettuce, and a pinch of peppermint. The mutton was seasoned perfectly and the sauce provided a strong kick, leaving me wanting more.
The star of the meal, however, was the pulled pork and bacon burger (RMB 75). This giant burger is stuffed with bacon, pine seeds, walnuts, and a layer of juicy pulled pork on a bun and served with crunchy french fries and a side salad. Unlike the usual deep-fried bacon found on many a burger around town, this rendition is instead caramelized and marinated with special sauce. The nuts provided an added chewy texture, while the pork was neither too lean nor too fatty, but well-seasoned and juicy. Even as a serious burger eater, I found it difficult to finish the whole portion by myself.
Liquids at Burgerwich prevail at reasonable prices: 11 types of mojito with different base mixers ring in at RMB 45. Or you can choose between 27 kinds of gin, whisky, or rum highballs, including varieties that are fruit and tea-infused, as well as five baijiu-infused cocktails (RMB 45); eight classic cocktails (RMB 60); and six types of beer (RMB 25-45). There's also a daily happy hour between 8 to 11pm of all-you-can-drink for RMB 150, making this place a dangerous detour on your way in or out of Sanlitun.
As Alvin Zhao explained on our way out, bellies warm and full, “It’s more than just a cold-hearted diner or bar, but a place for people to socialize, to treat each other with li (manners), and relax and enjoy every second, no matter whether for business, friendship or courtship." As long as you don't give the name too much credence, we'd happily agree.
Li Burgerwich Diner and Bar
Daily 11.30am-1.30pm, 6pm-12am. 2/F, Bldg G, 39-9 Xingfuercun, Chaoyang District (156 0006 8287)
More stories by this author here.
Photos: Tracy Wang, Courtesy of Li
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