Niajo has flown under the radar for a couple of years as far as the Beijing restaurant scene is concerned, but now it's high time they stepped back into the spotlight.
A consistent favorite producing classic Spanish dishes, Executive Chef Alex Sanchez and Sous-Chef Pan have just returned from a three-month research trip to Spain, with an eye to shaking up the menu with some new dishes. While you'll recognize many of the dishes – see the cooked-to-order Spanish omelette on toasted bread – others have a decidedly new twist. I particularly enjoyed the little bites of morcilla (Spanish blood sausages) topped with foie gras, an outrageously rich combination of already rich ingredients.
Also of note are their dishes made using high quality Spanish canned seafood, such as tuna and anchovies – try the coca (a thin bread topped like an open sandwich) with roasted peppers and tuna. This level of product is hard to find in Beijing and worth seeking out.
Look for the new dishes, along with a re-design of the menu itself, to launch very soon.
Niajo have also recently revamped their lunch menu, putting it on a par with the other set menu options available in Nali Patio. RMB 98 gets you three courses from a frequently changing menu, with the option to add a glass of Cava, red wine or white wine for just RMB 22. They also offer a rice menu at RMB 160, which includes a salad, a choice of Paella and a dessert, plus a glass of Cava, wine or beer. This goes along with one of the best deals on house wine by the bottle I have seen at any restaurant in Beijing – just RMB 120 for a white Verdejo/Macabeo blend and RMB 150 for a red Monastrell.
I've been back to Niajo several times since I tried the new dishes and it is now firmly back on my list of favorite restaurants in the Sanlitun area. The atmosphere is just right for a casual lunch or dinner with friends and the service is also pretty spot on.
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Photos: Robynne Tindall
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