Date Night: La Sushi
This underlit Nali Patio restaurant feels more like a French bistro than a typical sushi joint, and is the perfect locale for a night away from the kids. Toro, the highly prized underbelly of bluefin tuna, is the big catch here. It’s flown in fresh from Tokyo thrice weekly, so if you’re not short of a few kuai, the luxuriously fatty flavor is truly a revelation (RMB 280 sashimi, RMB 80 sushi). For the environmentally conscious, hamachi (or yellowtail, a farmed fish similar in taste to bluefin) is a fine substitute (RMB 120 sashimi, RMB 20 sushi). For a more intimate meal, a range of sharing-sized sushi and sashimi platters featuring abalone, tuna, octopus and more (from RMB 198) all come with freshly grated wasabi and delicious miso soup. Landlubbers should try the wasabi beef fillet (RMB 70), a quality cut seared for mere seconds in the pan and swamped in a creamy-hot wasabi sauce. Add a touch of European flavor to your evening with a selection from the wine list, which is just as extensive as their sake offerings.
Family Night: Blue Frog, Shunyi
Why is it that kids’ menus are so often half-baked? Choosing between nuggets and spaghetti is unlikely to instill in your little ones a joy of eating, let alone eating well. Thankfully, Blue Frog boasts one of the most extensive kids’ menus in Beijing with over 30 items specially prepared for your "lil’ frogs." Main courses – sorry, "Tadpole Specials" (RMB 20-98) – include hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches and macaroni plus healthier items like salmon steaks, veggie fried rice and "Rabbit Food," a rainbow mix of fresh vegetables served with a garlic yogurt dip. Health-conscious moms can swap out sides of fries for carrot & celery sticks, steamed veggies, a side salad or even a bunch of grapes, and the drinks selection boasts enticing tipples like Frog Punch, a zingy blend of orange, pineapple, apple and cranberry juice. The Shunyi branch is a prime spot for birthday parties too – the management can arrange face painters and magicians on request, and a part of the main dining room can be cordoned off and adorned with balloons. Party menus include both a main dish and a drink; prices range from RMB 30-45 per child.