As temperatures in Beijing drop well below zero, our diet calls for abandoning salads in favor of hearty soups and stews. Thankfully, from spicy Korean hot pot to traditional French ragout, Beijing restaurants have plenty of slow-cooked options to satisfy winter appetites.
Lamb Shank Navarin, Café Flo, RMB 142
A good stew can take a cheap cut of meat and transform it into something special. Navarin is a traditional French stew of lamb or mutton, which Café Flo makes using a bone-in lamb shank for flavor and visual impact. The shank is braised in a red wine sauce with seasonal vegetables, and the puff pastry topping adds a touch of theater (as well as a necessary textural contrast).
Dapanji, Baron Rozi Restaurant Xinjiang Cuisine, RMB 75
The dapanji at Baron Rozi certainly lives up to its name (literally “big plate chicken,” a rendition pictured above), with even the smaller portion proving difficult for three people to finish. Said to have been invented in Xinjiang in the nineties by a migrant from Sichuan, dapanji combines chicken, potatoes, and peppers in a tomato-based sauce seasoned with chili and Sichuan pepper. What really makes this a hearty winter-friendly dish, however, is the hand-pulled noodles hiding underneath the chicken and soaking up all the sauce.
Budae Jjigae, Han Jimmy, RMB 138
This Korean fusion stew was created just after the Korean War using surplus supplies from US army bases such as spam, hot dogs, and processed cheese, hence the name, which translates to “army base stew.” The combination of fatty meats and noodles simmering in a bright red broth flavored with kimchi and gochujang makes it a great December dish. Funky Korean restaurant Han Jimmy in Shimao Gongsan serves a solid rendition and saves you the trip to Wangfujing or Wudaokou.