“Just a little spicy please.”
Only concerning Asian cuisine does a simple five-word sentence hold so many diverse meanings. My waiter looked at me, nodded once, and walked to the kitchen, while I sat there and wondered if I was going to get a bowl of primordial, tasteless soup, or a fiery broth that would cause even a condemned soul to blow on their spoon. Adjusting for spice preference is like turning the shower knob in a Beijing bathroom, you’re either going to get hit with icy Antarctic waters or steam that’s hissed straight off the sun’s surface.
Ten minutes, and one Hoegaarden beer (RMB 18 for 330ml) later I was cradling a medium sized bowl of roasted beef noodles (RMB 18) where the slick, orange oily spice found floating on many previous tear inducing ramen bowls was coating my plentiful serving of fatty beef pieces and leafy bok choy greens. Twirling the first serving of thin noodles I braced myself for … the most welcoming balance of fire and flavor I have come across yet. Sitting back I felt like the littlest bear in Goldilocks’s tale, turned to the waiter, and proclaimed my bowl was just right.
While I slurped away the kitchen would periodically spring to life as the back-and-forth passing of different chuan’r snacks were being tested out by the staff on their downtime. Their barbecue menu page boasts meats from lamb, chicken, prawn, squid, codfish, and vegetables from corn to eggplant to potato all at reasonable prices (RMB 2 and up) while the rest of their pages are filled with crawfish (RMB 68 and up) and other ramen bowls featuring bean paste and Chongqing hotpot tastes.
If you’re wandering down by Worker’s Stadium and feel like a no nonsense refuelling of your stomach this cheap eats joint will see you in and out in half an hour flat, saving you some good time to continue onwards to your next meeting place.
Daily 10am-10pm. 50 Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District
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Photos: Erin Strong
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