Having been in Beijing for five years, I decided it was about time to explore the Middle Eastern restaurants along the top end of Sanlitun’s Gongti Bei Lu. Before the summer break, we headed to Persepolis and enjoyed a fabulous meal of grilled meats, a selection of rice-based dishes, and the best hummus I’d tasted in a long time. Impressed with both the food, and the fun atmosphere of Persepolis, we were encouraged to try more of the eateries along this strip, famed for its outdoor patios. Rumi opened its doors in 2005, with a menu that offers traditional Iranian dishes, whilst experimenting with new and innovative dishes. The unique interior incorporates Iranian elements in a contemporary way, and includes a play room to keep young diners entertained. While the weather is good, the best spot for dining is of course out on the terrace.
To start, we ordered the hummus with special spices, pita bread, and torshi which is a Persian mix of chopped pickled vegetables. The hummus was perfect consistency, with just the right balance of oil and spice. The bread had a soft and light texture, and proved the perfect tool for scooping up heaps of the delicious hummus. The pickled vegetables packed a real punch, a great little sour number. For our mains we opted for a sharing kebab platter, consisting of chicken shish, beef fillet kebab, beef koobideh, and salmon kebab. The cubes of marinated chicken breast in the shish kebab were incredibly tender, with a beautiful spice grilled flavor. The salmon kebab offered four generous chunks of perfectly cooked fish, wonderfully crisp on the outside, the inside still soft and fleshy.
The two beef kebabs were also very good – strips of grilled beef tenderloin and a skewer of grilled seasoned minced beef. To accompany this amount of meat, you need a dip. We opted for the mast-o-khair, a refreshing combination of yoghurt with chopped cucumber, walnuts, and mint. It went well against the depth of spice heat from the grilled meats. Of course you can’t go to a Persian restaurant without trying a traditional stew. The Fesenjan stew combines crushed walnuts with chicken, cooked in pomegranate paste, served alongside basmati rice. Crammed with walnuts, the consistency was incredibly thick, and the pomegranate flavor came though really well.
The menu is of course meat heavy, but there are salads and lighter entrees to try. All of their stews can incorporate vegetables as the main ingredient, replacing either lamb, chicken, or beef. Portions are huge, so you won’t go home hungry. Rumi doesn’t serve alcohol, but you can bring your own.
Daily 11.30am-midnight. 1A Gongti Beilu (opposite Zhaolong Hotel), Chaoyang District (8454 3838) www.rumigrill.com 朝阳区工体北路甲1号兆龙饭店对面
beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent Sally Wilson moved to Beijing in 2010 from the UK with her husband and son. Her daughter was born here in 2011 and both her kids keep her happily busy. In her spare time, Sally loves to stroll through Beijing’s hutongs and parks. She is a (most of the time) keen runner and loves reading: books, magazines, news, and celeb websites – anything really. Sally is also a bit of a foodie and loves trying out new restaurants.
Photos: Sally Wilson