This week, the Spectator Tasters decided to head out in search of an awesome Asian dining experience.
Written by Jennifer Gleason and Amber Smith
Jen: Beijing Café has nice low lighting, but the exterior and interior are difficult to understand. The sign that is lit up to indicate it is open is far away enough from the front door that it could confuse newcomers to the restaurant. When I walked into the restaurant, I was greeted by a solid partition. Personally, I wouldn’t find it very effective for a host or hostess, as it blocks anyone coming into the restaurant from the main view of the establishment and any workers at the cash register. However, when we were greeted, we were given the option to sit anywhere and we found a comfortable booth to the left side of the entrance.
Amber: Beijing is a little hard to navigate for first timers. The first time I walked in, I was confused when the front door opened and was face-to-face with a solid wall. After the initial confusion, however, the wall is kind of nice. It helps in the transition from the world outside the café to the world inside by providing a physical barrier that signifies this passage between “worlds.” From the front door, taking the left path sends you across a small bridge that goes over a tranquil creek and towards the seating area.
Jen: I ordered a mug of hot, green tea that with a packet of sugar hit the spot that evening. The interesting thing about Beijing Café was its variety in its menu—from Thai cuisine to typical Chinese dishes (sweet and sour chicken, dumplings, etc.), Beijing Café’s menu almost made it difficult to make a decision. Everything sounded delicious. We settled on some dumplings and I ordered the sesame chicken.
Amber: I had tried curry once before at a Thai restaurant, so I decided to try Beijing’s version. My previous experience with curry involved a yellow curry paste cooked in coconut milk with potatoes and onions. Beijing’s version was a little different. Beijing’s yellow curry comes in two dishes. One is a plate of yellow curry, chicken and vegetables garnished with an orange slice and a cherry. The other is a bowl of white rice. The portion size is huge. I ate my fill at dinner and still took enough home to eat leftovers twice. The flavor was sweet. Lemongrass can easily be overwhelming, but the flavor in Beijing’s curry was wonderful.
Jen: The complimentary chips and duck sauce were tasty, but my favorite was the ordered starter of the dumplings. The steamed dumplings’ had a very distinctive, and addictive, flavor. Typically, I find that dumplings are at their best when dipped in the soy sauce. While the soy sauce that came with Beijing Café’s dumplings did add zesty flavor, the dumplings were seasoned just enough to stand on their own.
Amber: While the curry was impressive, the dumplings were also my favorite. Steamed dumplings are one of my favorite Asian appetizers and Beijing’s did not disappoint. This was not my first visit to Beijing Café and it definitely will not be my last. The food is a great value. The price isn’t high and the portions are large. The food quality is great and the atmosphere makes me feel right at home every time. I would recommend Beijing Café to anyone looking for a comfortable atmosphere and good Asian food.
Jen: The sesame chicken was plated simply on white china with an orange slice and sprig of parsley as garnish. It looked fashionable, and was filling. The rice was also served in a manageable bowl—one thing I detest is going to a restaurant and being handed too many bulky dishes. I had enough sesame chicken and rice leftover for two meals afterward—Chinese food does always fill me up fast. The waiter and waitress working tag-teamed our table (we were some of the few in there that evening), and offered several refills of hot water for our tea and made sure everything was cooked as we liked. Usually when I get Chinese food, I choose an express or delivery service, but Beijing Café is definitely worth sitting down at for a quiet, peaceful evening out with a friend. The low lighting and minimal decorations gave me a sense of the atmosphere, without the overwhelming feeling that I was plopped into a scene from Mulan.