Fans of rich, flavorful cuisine will like Before and After, a Taiwanese restaurant with several branches in Beijing. We visited the original location in Dongsishitiao to discover Taiwanese cuisine beyond Taipei’s famous night-market xiaochi (snacks).
Before and After does offer a host of xiaochi to satisfy your family’s cravings, including fried luo bogao (radish patties), feng li su (pineapple cakes), shao rou zong (glutinous rice and roasted meat), kezai xian (oyster omelette) and nuza tang (milk candy nougat) laced with peanuts.
But aside from xiaochi, the restaurant specializes in less famous but equally delicious heaping Taiwanese entrees. A fine example is the prawn ball salad served in a hollowed-out pineapple half with creamy custard; kids with a sweet tooth will definitely like it.
Before and After manager Hu Wei Chao says: “Parents and their children really like some of the entrees as well as the xiaochi, because these bigger dishes are so healthy and richly-flavored. After all, xiaochi isn’t the only type of Taiwanese food. There are also many types of larger dishes with fresh ingredients and unique flavors, and they are very important too.”
Though a variety of cooking techniques are used in Taiwanese cuisine, the most important element is considered to be the mixture and proportion of spices, which are employed in a spectrum of combinations to give dishes unique flavors.
Major ingredients and condiments: Seafood (particularly fish and shrimp), pork, beef, tropical fruit, soy sauce, sesame oil, pickled mustard greens and other seasonings, onion, ginger, garlic
Main preparation methods: Steaming, boiling, stir frying
- Deep-fried assorted nuts and chive puffs (一口酥, yikou su): This light, slightly crunchy dish is appropriate as an appetizer. Chives and nuts are battered and deep-fried with a hint of sweetness. RMB 36.
- Braised egg with mushrooms and vegetables (吴家老烧蛋, wujia laoshao dan): Get your kids to eat vegetables with this dish, which features eggs in a tangy sauce; the latter masks the taste of veggies. RMB 42.
- Sweet-and-sour prawn balls (鲜果沙律虾, xianguo sha lvxia): This blitz of bright tropical island flavors doubles as a main course and a dessert. The tangy prawns are served in a hollowed-out pineapple half and filled with a creamy custardy sauce. Warning: If you don’t like sweet things, stay away from this dish. RMB 118.
Family facilities: The bathroom has western toilets with soap and toilet paper. Highchairs are also available. The menu is in English and Chinese with pictures. Smoking is allowed on the second floor, but not on the first.
Before and After 饭前饭后
1) Daily 11am-10pm. Dongsishitiao branch: A13 Warehouse Complex, Nanxincang, Dongsishitiao, Dongcheng District (6405 9598) 东城区东四十条南新仓古仓群A13; 2) Chaoyang Park branch: Bldg 1, Solana, 6 Chaoyang Gongyuan Lu, Chaoyang District (5905 6988) 朝阳区朝阳公园路6号蓝色港湾1号楼; 3) Daily 11am-10pm. Sanyuanqiao branch: L314-316, 3/F, Phoenix Mall, Bldg 24, 5 Shuguang Xili, Chaoyang District (5638 3089/91) 朝阳区曙光西里甲5号院24号楼北京凤凰汇3层L314-L316号铺
Photos: Uni You