We know the most authentic Korean barbeque restaurants are probably in Koreatown (Wangjing, Wudaokou), but both areas are a little far for us, and we just haven’t managed to hike our way to a good restaurant. Instead, we have found a reliable chain restaurant called San Qian Li (韩中阁三千里烤肉城), which in our experience has been the most consistent in delivering the two things we care about: fresh food (safe raw meat) and good taste. The restaurant has been in operation for over thirty years (since 1978), which, I don’t know about you, but certainly assures me on the quality and service of a restaurant in an ever-changing city like Beijing.
San Qian Li can be found in 24 cities in China. The location we visit regularly is in Dongsi (within second ring, near Chaoyangmen), which is walking distance from our home. If you aren’t familiar with the area, it is near the Muslim Mosque, walking distance from Wangfujing, and is generally in the “hutongs” area (but on the main street). San Qian Li, being a chain, also has locations in: Hepingmen, Fengtianjie, Pingan, Wanjing New City, and Yangqiao.
The restaurant often has combo deals for dine-in, but we ended up at the restaurant because of their awesome Nuomi set meals. We often invite friends to dine with us, ordering meals for four or six. The combo deals are mostly for ready cooked Korean food, such as bibimbap, cold noodles, and ready-cooked hot pot. The Nuomi set meals are for the actual do it yourself barbecue (DIY BBQ), which start at RMB 78 for a two-person set meal. We normally get the three person set because it includes a cold noodle, a bibimbap, fruit, a plate of chicken, a plate of very nice beef cuts, and a veggie plate — all in addition to the cold plate appetizers Korean restaurants serve. The variety here usually includes a potato salad, a mushroom salad, soybean sprouts, kimchi, and sweet potatoes.
When you stay till closing hours (note: they close at the normal 9:30pm hour), you can see the staff taking out grills and properly scrubbing the tables down. It’s very reassuring that the restaurant is clean, the restroom doesn’t smell, and everything looks pretty neat for an old restaurant. The staff provides decent enough service in that they respond quickly, they’re familiar with the groupon system, and they accommodate for children.
Most importantly, for a BBQ place, San Qian Li is not smoky. The tables are placed at reasonable distances where we don’t have to worry about our son getting accidentally burned, or bumped into. The round raised grill at the center of the table is very small, which can be annoying if you have big eaters, but it’s very hot and is beneficial when you have children who might reach for the grill.
Note: Groupon/ Nuomi prices vary by location and time periods. Currently, SanQianLi Dongsi branch only offers 20-42% off on Nuomi with prices ranging from RMB 80-198.
San Qian Li (Dongsi), 韩中阁三千里烤肉城(东四店), Dongsi North Avenue 345, Dongcheng District, Beijing (东城区东四北大街345号). Contact: 10-67202981 for reservations.
Photos: courtesy of Jessica Suotmaa, Nuomi.com