A Bite To Eat
by Dino Zapataria
It's a rare occasion when you find something wonderful. Yet that is exactly what happened to me last week when I was undecided where to go for dinner. I decided to risk it and try somewhere new. Walking hungry in Beijing is a minefield of temptation, and eventually I found myself outside a lively eatery with an attractive bright sign � it reminded me of the future.
Innovation, that's the only word that could describe this restaurant. The manager, and I can't praise him enough, had adopted a novel approach to service. When you arrive in the restaurant, you yourself go to a counter where an overhead menu - including handy photographs - lets you know exactly what is on offer. When you order, the food has normally already been made, and is brought to you almost instantly by the uniformed staff!
Stylish and classy.
Of course, aside from set menus, the manager and his chef have built an innovative menu of individual snacks, or more filling dishes. You are offered a selection of condiments that come with your choice! Last of all, you can choose your soft beverage (the management have a strict no-alcohol policy). After this, you can simply take your food tray to a table and relax while you eat - and enjoy some darned good music to boot!
It's a danger with food industry innovators that they neglect food quality in favour of the experience. Not so here. I enjoyed succulent breaded chicken pieces with a superb Chinese style sauce. Accompanying this I chose a large portion of deep fried potato pieces topped with sea salt, with a refreshing sparkling lemon and lime drink. My companion selected a steak hachee, topped with salad and gherkins and served in a Burgundy style sesame seed bread roll. To drink, she chose a summer berry flavoured ice-cream blend.
People, I think this is one to watch, if it stays as busy as it was when I dropped by, this eatery's management will be thinking about opening a second branch. The city will be their oyster. Not only is it a perfect place to pick up a snack, but its unique ambience and novel service system make it a fun and original place to take that special someone, perhaps before moving on to a happening nightspot and strutting your stuff on the dance floor!
"Mai dang lao" is open everyday till 11pm on Jiaodaokou Dong Dajie. Just tell your driver to head West from Dongzhimen Bridge; make sure he knows the Chinese characters if you don't.