From its convenient locations to its low prices and above all its Thai fare, Lime Cafe (nominated for Best Thai in our ongoing 2015 Reader Restaurant Awards) is one of Beijing’s most popular casual lunch spots.
This was more than apparent during a recent afternoon visit to its popular Central Park location (it has additional branches at Indigo Mall, the APM Mall in Wangfujing and World City), as several patrons had no problem braving the winter cold for a 10-minute wait for the for a table at the bustling little restaurant.
Most of the dishes are modestly portioned and affordable. A fitting example is the Mango Salad (RMB 42), which is perfectly sized for a lone patron. The dish’s most memorable feature may be its variable seasoning: the uneven placement of spices makes it sweet at one bite and fiery during the next, giving it a unique unpredictability. Its chunks of mango are juicy, if perhaps just a little too overripe.
A better balance is achieved in the restaurant’s Tom Yam Koong (a steal at RMB 29). The generously portioned soup has a smoldering spiciness that is enticing without becoming overpowering. There were only two prawns in the bowl I was served, but at only RMB 29, it’s hard to complain.
My server recommended several other popular items on Lime Cafe’s fully bilingual and easy-to-navigate menu, which features clear photos with every dish. Highlights include the minced pork-laced Thai Egg Omelette (RMB 58), the Thai Roast Chicken (RMB 68), the Stir-Fried Chicken Cashew Nut (RMB 58), and the Stir-Fried Beef Tenderloin in Black Pepper Sauce (RMB 88), all favorites among regulars.
Traditional Thai curries of course also feature prominently on the menu, and some ‘local flavor’ is thrown in for good measure with its Roasted Duck Curry (RMB 78) and the Stir-Fried Roasted Duck and Lemongrass (RMB 78).
The cultural crisscross carries over to the simple, cozily homey decor, complete with Chairman Mao and Thai Buddhas standing side by side.
Line Cafe's beverage options seal the deal – choose from Mango Lasi (RMB 32), Dragon Fruit Juice, (RMB 32) or Fresh Coconut Juice (RMB 35) to wash your meal down with something that will take you far, far away from Beijing.
Photos: Kyle Mullin
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