THE RUG: COURTYARD 4, GONGTI BEI LU, SANLITUN, CHAOYANG DISTRICT, BEIJING

Up until now, my travels have mostly been somewhat eurocentric, so casting the net a little further afield, I recently visited Beijing for the first time. Whilst I’ve heard it said that China can be something of a culinary culture shock, there is delicious food to try everywhere; from amazing dim sum to whole variety of dishes cooked up by street food vendors – there’s so much on offer that I spent two weeks there without once repeating a meal. However, given that the main mission of this blog is brunch, my leading question was, of course, where can I find some great poached eggs?

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Naturally, in a city this size, there are a number of places you can choose from for brunch. Most western hotel chains offer some form of brunch buffet, and there are also many  high-end restaurants offering a la carte brunch menus. But one place that piqued my interest in particular was The Rug, which had popped up frequently in several blogs and articles from local critics and bloggers as being a place worth a visit.

TimeOutBeijing highlights The Rug as being “one of the first restaurants to work directly with local Beijing farmers, such as De Run Wu or Da He, who are organic by their own standards but without official certification” and awarded it Best Café in its 2014 Food Awards. Readers of the well-known food site The Beijinger have also consistently voted in favour of The Rug’s foodie merits in The Beijinger’s annual Reader Restaurant Awards.

The Rug currently has three branches, all located in Chaoyang District:

  • Chaoyang Park: 4 Lishui Jiayuan, Chaoyang Gongyuan Nanlu (opposite South Gate of Chaoyang Park)
  • Sanlitun: Courtyard 4, Gonti Bei Lu
  • The Rug/Chat Room – Joy City Mall:  Unit 31, Joy Yard, 6/F, Chaoyang Joy City, 101 Chaoyang Beilu

Initially, we had intended to visit the original Lishui Jiayuan restaurant, which is located close to Chaoyang Park – a large amusement park with fairground rides, sports facilities and a lake where you can rent pedaloes and light motorcraft for a leisurely potter across the water in good weather.

However, once we remembered that we were in the midst of a  Chinese public holiday, we ultimately decided that it might be wiser to check out one of the other larger premises located not quite so close to a major tourist attraction, and so navigated our way across Beijing to the Sanlitun branch.

 

Now, I know I said I was on the hunt for poached eggs, and it’s true that the plates of Eggs Benedict, Florentine and even a Kimchi version that were being ordered by diners around us looked delicious, but with all the options on the menu, I wanted to try something a little different. So whilst I would have been perfectly happy to spend the day working my way through any number of courses to sample everything, I opted for a 3 bagel platter, with toppings of stir-fried beef; forest fruit compote with sliced pear and duck paté; and grilled aubergines with scrambled eggs, which delivered a small variety of the kinds of flavours the chefs here like to work with. Also, given that matcha is quite popular in Beijing – it’s in everything from cakes to ice cream – I took a gamble on their matcha latte, which was sweeter than I am accustomed to, but worked well as a dessert drink.

My dining companion, C. opted for the Shakshuka; a colourful North African tomato and egg dish of which I have long been a big fan, though it was a first for him. We were mutually agreed that The Rug’s version was excellent and would have happily gone for seconds, but unfortunately another engagement meant that our time was too limited for such indulgence – more’s the pity!

Despite having lived for a few years in Beijing, C. had previously never heard of The Rug, and admittedly as a guest there is certainly something very pleasant about being able to treat your host to something new in their city. Perhaps because, after they have patiently accompanied you around all the familiar tourist spots, it seems some small form of reciprocation that they too get to feel a sense of discovery. His enthusiasm to return again with friends at a later date was as pleasing as the food itself had been, and I couldn’t have asked for more than that.

Practicalities:

– Wifi
– Vegetarian options
– Outside seating
– Cards accepted
– Service style: table

 

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