Beijing’s 10 weirdest restaurants 北京十大怪怪餐廳 good FOOD^^
|Restaurateurs, on the other hand, forget the failsafe formula of good food, value and service, and start to think that novelty place mats are a neat idea. |
Carving a niche is one thing, but are these bizarre eateries simply too strange to stomach?
Pressure affects people in different ways. Soldiers become "shell-shocked.” Politicians “crack.”
Restaurateurs, on the other hand, forget the failsafe formula of good food, value and service, and start to think that novelty place mats are a neat idea.
In a city with 40,000 restaurants fighting for customers, it’s no wonder these Beijing eateries are acting a little odd.
1. House of Poo Poo
A kindergarten “poo-scape” of smiley-faced turds, this bathroom-tiled restaurant is a daft tribute to the sit-down legacy of Thomas Crapper. Guests perch on toilets topped with Winnie the Pooh warmers (coincidence?), tucking into squidgy dishes like “poo funny mud” (mashed potato, pictured) and beef curries that float in table-top commodes. If it all gets too much, excuse yourself and go to the bathroom -- it’s quite ordinary.
2. Friends Cafe
Always stuck in second gear? Seek out this eerily precise replica of TV show "Friends’" Central Perk for big cups of Joe, chocolate muffins, hot dogs and endless re-runs. A giddy student crowd fights over the famous couch, and takes turns strumming “Smelly Cat” on guitar. Fanatical owner Du Xin confesses to studying “millions of pictures online to get it right.” Yes, he dresses like Gunther.
3. Grandma’s Rabbit Head Restaurant
This packed Sichuan restaurant is really turning heads with its Chengdu signature. Skinned, braised rabbit heads, to be precise. Select a sauce (Sichuan peppercorn or five-spice), and don the gloves and apron provided for a lagomorph lobotomy. After you’ve prized open the jaw to get at the surprisingly long, chewy tongue, you’ll need more muscle to crack the skull and pull out the little brain. Looks ghastly, tastes good. Honest.
4. Red Classics Restaurant
Revel in a bygone slice of PRC history at this theater restaurant decked out with Mao portraits, revolutionary slogans and a life-sized red tractor smashing through the wall. Waitresses in green overalls and pig-tails dish up the Helmsman’s beloved pork belly in portions that would make a Red Guard blush, as actors belt out “The East is Red” to drunken groups of flag-waving petty bourgeoisie.
5. Trojan Fairy
For adulterers and paparazzi-shy celebs, this pitch-black restaurant is the place not to be seen (though before diners plan anything too naughty, be warned: the waiters wear night-vision goggles). Dark restaurants are nothing new, but online gamers have adopted Trojan Fairy for live-action “Farmville” antics, where diners compete by swiping food from each other’s plates. Choose from three peculiar part-Japanese, part-Western set menus to join the fun.
A strict, members-only policy operates here, but that's just the food. Guolizhuang's penis hot pot contains 10 appendages from dog to sheep, with exotic organs like seal available at extra cost. Potency is the promise that has middle-aged businessmen booking in their droves, though women are welcome too; it’s good for the skin, apparently. Don’t be hoodwinked by the grandiloquent menu: “Jasmine Flowers” is in fact sliced donkey penis.
7. Haloing The Past
Discover your inner Chinese schoolchild at this 1980s time warp. Vintage-clothed hipsters giggle over canteen favorites like savory baked eggs and comfortingly malty hot chocolate, as a ghetto blaster pumps out (well not exactly) old sing-along tunes. Retro toys, tatty school desks and other period kitsch abounds, including a replica frontage of a Beijing trolley bus that serves as the bar, with working headlights.
8. Heroic Mountain
This eatery, themed on “wuxia,” or martial arts fiction, stands out from the hot pot joints that line Ghost Street. Bamboo walls hung with swords and bows provide the ambiance as waiters in black robes serve fanciful fare to the assembled acolytes of Jin Yong, the novelist who popularized the genre. White belts needn’t tap out: the delicious “Beggar’s Duck” and steamed “Hero Fish” require no prior training.
9. Ordos Hotel Restaurant
Run by the Inner-Mongolian provincial government, this restaurant comprises eight dusty yurts, squeezed, incongruously, into the courtyard of a forlorn apartment and hotel complex in central Beijing. Diners are unlikely to hear the cry of an eagle, but can expect tender boiled mutton that falls off the bone as it should, plus authentically salty “milk tea.” Hungry raiding parties can order the whole sheep banquet.
10. Kiev Restaurant
The mustachioed stars of Ukrainian opera sing out their careers at this grand eating hall much loved by moneyed Chinese. If you manage to get a table, Georgian wine, smoked trout and questionable baked lobster should get you in the mood for music; diners can pick from a songbook (Russian and Chinese only) and pay 80 RMB to have the full troupe come to the table for an ear-splitting aria.
Southern Liberation Day (April 30)