Expanding a popular restaurant into multiple branches is a tricky business. Do you stick with what seems to work and make every branch a carbon copy of the last, or do you take a punt on a new concept? The team behind The Rug have chosen the latter and it suits them down to the ground.

Set on the sixth floor of mammoth Chaoyang Joy City, their newest branch is called the Chat Room. The focus here is on light bites and catch ups between bouts of retail therapy, rather than a formal sit-down meal, and shows a smart understanding of the customers who frequent Joy City. As we have come to expect from The Rug, the décor is on point – pseudo-French café style blended with their signature polished-concrete-and-geometric-light-shades look. Staff bustle behind a counter stacked with homemade bakery items and breads from long-time partner Boulangerie Nanda.  

The food tends to the sweet side of things, even in the savory dishes, but there are definite standouts. We loved the sesame-crusted seared tuna salad, with fennel, pomelo and toasted quinoa (RMB 38), demonstrating a deft hand with both flavour and texture. Quinoa’s trendy bedfellows kale and avocado make a showing in several of the dishes and we are happy to see them there. Fans of The Rug’s brunch dishes will be glad to know that their bagel eggs Benedict (RMB 108-118) has made the cut on the new menu, which just goes to show that some things are better left unchanged.

More stories by this author here.

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Photos: Ken

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