Smart diners know that beer isn’t just for drinking. Many of Beijing’s restaurants are using beer, whether that is a local brew or an international brand, to add depth and flavor to their dishes. We rounded up some of Beijing’s best beer-based dishes, from mussels to indulgent cupcakes so you can experience the suds without getting buzzed.
Plan B’s Beer-Butt Chicken (RMB 180)
We were surprised to find that Shuangjing local bar Plan B serves up some of the juiciest chicken in town. The secret? A big ol’ can of beer inserted where the sun don’t shine. Each 5lb chicken is marinated in garlic, paprika and butter, before it and the beer are slow-roasted on a closed barbecue. The beer can isn’t just for show – it steams the chicken from the inside, adding extra moisture to the meat. The chicken amply serves four hungry diners and can be accompanied by sides of salad, gravy, and mashed potatoes. Note that the beer-butt chicken should ideally be ordered a day in advance.
Jing-A’s Beer Battered Fish and Chips (RMB 70)
As a Brit, my quest for good fish and chips in Beijing seemed never-ending. Until I tried Jing-A Brewing’s version, that is. Delicate white fish fillets are surrounded by a perfectly crisp batter made with their own Koji Red Ale, which adds a subtle malty and slightly citrusy edge. Thick-cut chips and chili-infused vinegar finish it all off. They say the portion is designed for sharing, but in our experience you won’t have any problem polishing it off yourself.
C Pearl’s Mussels Cooked in Vedett (RMB 169)
C Pearl are seafood specialists so you can trust that they know their catch. Although we love moules marinières, or mussels cooked in white wine, the wine can make the sauce somewhat astringent if not treated properly. So, we were delighted to hear that C Pearl have a version where the mussels are steamed in Vedett beer. The beer reduces during the cooking process and mingles with the briny flavor of the plump Canadian mussels. Enjoy these with a glass of the same beer.
Sweet Tart’s Slow Boat Vanilla Stout Cupcakes (RMB 30, minimum six)
We struggled to think of a sweet option for this feature, until we remembered Sweet Tart’s collaboration with Slow Boat for Valentine’s Day. These delectable morsels feature a chocolate cupcake base, filled with chocolate ganache and crowned with an ermine frosting made with Slow Boat’s Sea Anchor Imperial Vanilla Stout. Be sure to place your cupcake order three to four days in advance, to give master baker Britt Langford time to source the beer from Slow Boat. Visit their website at www.sweettart.com.cn.
Nalan Jiulou’s Pijiu Yu (RMB 68)
Lest you think that beer in Chinese cuisine is just designed to wash down a freshly-grilled plate of chuan’r, head to Nalan Jiulou, the restaurant of the Guangxi Representative Office, which serves up a mean version of the famous Yangshuo dish – fish cooked in beer (pijiu yu). The fish (usually a fresh water fish like carp) is braised in a mixture of beer, dried chilies, Guilin-style chili sauce, tomatoes and other aromatics, making for a rich sauce that is just begging for an extra bowl of rice.
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Photos: Joey Guo, Ken
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