In this new feature, we discover some of the many independent businesses and small providers which make up Shunyi’s lively artisan food scene.
Balmain Gourmet has been an established name in Shunyi since 2010, but fell victim to the wave of building closures in late 2017. Ordered out of his premises at three days’ notice, owner Drew Howard contemplated giving up, but we’re delighted to see that in true Aussie spirit, he’s bounced back. His new premises are at Building B Central Park, near to Shine Hills and upstairs from another local favorite, Shalimar Indian Restaurant. You’ll need to look for this door:
The cafe will be opening in May, when the license comes through. But until then you can buy from Balmain Gourmet’s extensive menu of high-quality meat products.
“The menu changes every week,” Howard told me. “We do over 50 kinds of sausage, so we can only make six or seven each week.”
Balmain Gourmet also make ham, bacon, burgers, and pulled pork.
“We only use fresh beef and lamb from Inner Mongolia,” Howard said. “Chinese beef is full of water, and I can’t work with frozen meat – defrosting it then freezing it again.”
We tried his lamb burgers, topped with grilled cheese and accompanied by British-style chips and salad (and a glass of Merlot for the grown-ups). They were delicious, with balanced hints of mint and chili complementing but not overpowering the delicate flavor of the lamb.
We also sampled his sausages and bacon, as part of a traditional British fried breakfast. The bacon was a stark contrast to our usual supermarket bacon, which is so loaded with water that it shrivels to virtually nothing when cooked. The Balmain Gourmet bacon (both traditional and subtly smoked) was still fat and juicy when transferred from grill to plate.
What do you think, boys?
“Luscious,” Joseph said.
“I’ve not had any better sausages in Beijing,” Noah added.
If you’d like to try Balmain Gourmet’s “luscious” meat, you can visit their cafe at Shop 204, Building 8, Central Park, Shunyi, from 10am to 7pm, seven days a week, or find them on WeChat to see their weekly menus (ID BalmainGourmet or search 186 0003 9708).
Photos: Andrew Killeen