‘Oh, there's no roast duck,’ the woman at the table nearby murmurs in Chinese as she flips through the menu at Peking Inn. It’s a scene you imagine isn’t uncommon at Jiashan Market’s newest addition, an upstart restaurant making an admirable endeavour to showcase Beijing cuisine beyond Peking duck.
So, if not duck, then what? The focus at Peking Inn is on chunbing (spring pancakes), a hearty Northern Chinese concept comprised of thin pancakes and an assortment of home-style dishes to wrap in them. As far as fillings go, try hecai gaimao (48RMB), a stir-fry of Chinese chives, bean sprouts and vermicelli topped with an omelette or jingjiang rousi (48RMB), slivers of pork in a sweet soybean sauce. Classic, old school and very Beijing.
Beyond chunbing, you can tuck into other very solid, standard Northern Chinese and home-style fare: platters of sweet and sour pork, dry-fried string beans, grilled beef with cumin and onions or Kung Pao chicken. There’s an extremely tasty hairtail fish (68RMB) in a sultry-sweet brown sauce, though its millions of bones require an inordinate level of patience or practice.
Peking Inn has elevated chunbing’s usual humble surrounds. The space evokes a retro, Chinatown vibe with vermillion walls and crimson velvet curtains complementing forest green velvet benches and a display of tiny gold lion statues. Neon glows above the bar where staff turn out Chinese-inspired cocktails (from 70RMB) to pair with your chunbing. In stark relief to the traditional food, the cocktails developed by Chris Xi (Blackstone) are ambitious in their flavour combinations, drawing on Chinese liquors less frequently seen in cocktails, with varying degrees of success. Peking Inn’s peek into the capital’s cuisine beyond duck is one we’re happy to have.
Meal for two around: 350RMB.
By Cat Nelson