Those of us who are lucky enough to inhabit the Beijing of 2016-2017 live in a city with a dining scene that encompasses many of the biggest international food trends and a good few locally grown ones too. That being said, there are still one of two gaps in the market that we wouldn’t mind seeing filled. All that remains to be said is: bring it on, 2017, our stomachs are ready.
2017 is the year that we hope kale relinquishes its place at the top of the healthy eating rankings. It seems to be a truth universally acknowledged that putting kale in anything makes it healthier, yet the green doesn’t even rank on many lists of healthiest/most nutritious foods; a study published in the Center for Disease Control journal put watercress at the top of a list of “powerhouse fruits and vegetables.” Here are some other leafy green superstars (plus a handy Chinese name to show to your friendly neighborhood market vendor) you can try if you want to shake up your salads:
- Watercress 西洋菜 xīyáng cài／水田芥 shuǐtián gài
- Chinese cabbage/napa cabbage 大白菜 dà báicài – who knew that Beijing winter staple was so healthy?!
- Chard 唐莴苣 táng wōjù
- Beet greens 甜菜叶 tiáncài yè
We’re cheating a bit with this one, since Poke bowls have already started appearing around the city, including at Hatchery (who have a salmon version on the menu at Soul Bowls) and Obentos (who launched their own poke bowl back in September), and at recently opened Sanlitun Soho poke specialists, Poke Inn (pictured at top). Pronounced “POH-kay,” poke originates from Hawaii and is a raw fish appetizer usually made with diced tuna or salmon traditionally seasoned with soy, lime, and sesame. The fish is served over a bowl of rice, hence the name. We’d love to see more Beijing venues pick up on this health trend and let their imaginations run riot with the toppings, like Hong Kong-based poke shack Pololi, which serves kooky flavors like Thai-style and Hong Kong-style.
Veggies taking center stage as entrées
Beijing has some excellent vegetarian restaurants (and some pretty good vegetarian dishes), but we would like to see more restaurants that don’t necessarily specialize in vegetarian food introducing the kind of vegetarian entrées that tempt even died in the wool carnivores. Restaurants such as Ottolenghi in London and Gjelina in Venice, California have been popularizing vegetable-forward entrées for a while now.
One place we have seen this trend taking shape in Beijing is The Big Smoke, with their roasted crunchy cauliflower with red pepper sauce and parmesan. A whole head of cauliflower is roasted until tender and charred on the outside, before being topped with a luscious roasted red pepper sauce (very reminiscent of romesco sauce), and finished off with buttery breadcrumbs and a heap of grated parmesan.
You’ll have noticed a slightly healthy bent to all of the above trends (and isn’t that the way of things nowadays?), but we couldn’t resist one indulgence. Popping up all over foodie destinations like Melbourne, London, and New York, freakshakes combine a standard milkshake with a not so standard array of sugary toppings like cake, cookies, sweets, and mountains of whipped cream. The might be a bit gimmicky but our sweet tooth (and our Instagram feed) just can’t say no. We can imagine somewhere like The Rug (who are never afraid to experiment with flavors and updated junk foods) or Fatboy’s: The Burger Bar doing a good job of these. Here’s hoping they read this blog …
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Photos: Obentos, Robynne Tindall, Flickr, Instagram
This post originally appeared on our sister-site, thebeijinger.