In the latest bid to improve Beijing's often questionable food standards, the Beijing Food and Drug Administration is encouraging restaurants to improve transparency and customer trust by becoming "open kitchens" (明厨亮灶). An article in The Beijing News on Wednesday, March 24, suggested that businesses install transparent windows or walls, or set up a video connection between the kitchen and the dining room.
As the article rightly points out, many of your common-or-garden local Chinese restaurants already have what would be considered "open kitchens" – think of your local Lanzhou lamian place and you'll see what we mean. However, there are a number of Western restaurants taking this tack too. Here are a few of our open kitchens around town:
1. Feast (Food by EAST): Feast's room-length open buffet kitchen is one of the primary features of this otherwise simply decorated restaurant. Best known for their semi-buffet concept (order your main course a la carte and then help yourself to a selection of starters and desserts) and they are clearly not afraid to show off the quality of their food.
2. Brasserie 1893: Set on the first floor of the Waldorf Astoria Beijing, Brasserie 1893 open kitchen is dominated by a pair of hulking Molteni stoves from Italy. From those stoves issues a menu of classic-with-a-twist European and American dishes, including a riff on the Waldorf salad using pressed Beijing duck.
3. Din Tai Fung: The viewing window at Din Tai Fung reveals a perfectly ordered world, with masked and hair capped-workers stuffing tray after tray of xiaolongbao for your culinary enjoyment. We haven't had a bad dumpling there yet, so they must be doing something right.
4. Fratelli Fresh, Renaissance Beijing Capital: Under the stewardship of dynamic chef Stefano Balduccio, the open kitchen in the corner of the room at Fratelli Fresh turns out reasonably priced versions of Italian classics like pizzas and pastas. Chef Balduccio can more often be found out of the kitchen than in, charming the customers.
5. Lucky Lopez: Nothing says "open" more than watching someone assemble your lunch in front of you. Skip the sad Subway sandwich and head over to Lucky Lopez in Jianwai Soho for one of their super filling burritos.
Some other spots around town that have open or partially open kitchens: Kerry Kitchen at the Kerry Hotel; certain locations of Quanjude (such as Shuangjing) where you can see the ducks being roasted and are sliced in front of you; Gung Ho! Pizza in Lido (if you decide to eat in); Flamme in Sanlitun, where you can watch steaks being cooked; and BLD at the Renaissance Shuangjing.
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Photo: Brasserie Flo
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