Palms LA Kitchen and Bar (Liangmaqiao)

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66 Xiaguangli
The second location of laid back hutong favorite, serving up some of Beijing's only Mexican-Korean fare.

Arriving in the dark, the new Palms LA emerges as a gentle dusting of lights in a tree-filled garden, a couple of hundred yards and a whole world away from the fluorescent restaurant strip that houses the original Home Plate.


The original Palms caused a stir when it opened a year ago in Gulou, bringing an LA-style blend of Korean and Mexican to an under-taco’d Beijing. No moulds have been broken with the new branch. Rather, it feels like the frustrations that built up in the cramped hutong space have now been indulged.


The menu is fuller, more varied and even more tempting. And that’s just the cocktails. Our margaritas come spiced rather than salted and made with tamarind or passion fruit. The white port Portonico is a long draught of sweet refreshment, all 45RMB each.


Things take a dip for the worse when the first of the food arrives. The kimchi and cheese spring rolls (32RMB) are more of a Cantonese school dinner fusion than Korean-Mexican. Panic is averted, however, as soon as the mains begin arriving. The new Miso Dog (45RMB) is a globalisation taste bomb. An English sausage in Japanese miso paste sharing a sweet Chinese bun with Mexican avocado, heaped with fried onions. Korean barbecue pork tacos (42RMB) are gone in a snap.


Our first truly recognisable taste of Korea comes folded in the kimchi quesadillas (48RMB). The idea is better than the execution, but before they go soggy (it’s kimchi in a tortilla) they do provide a heavy hit of Korea. The fish tacos (45RMB), also new, are filled with slivers of roasted fish, blissfully free of breading with a crispness felt through the crunch of the veg. However, if you hadn’t read ‘Korean spice rub’, you might miss the Korean element again.


The best is saved till last with the baked bibimbap (52RMB). Slowcooked pork with coriander, rice and, controversially, cheese. This new dish delivers confusion at first bite – lasagne? Chaofan? – and delight with the second. We end with more delicious and pleasingly priced cocktails because – hola! – tamarind is also a digestif.


Service is excellent; the outdoor setting one of the most romantic dining spots in Beijing. Forget the fusion theme that was a novelty a year ago and just go with the (miso) flow.


Zoom in on the map to see exactly where the pin points as Palms LA is a little tricky to find.
Venue name: Palms LA Kitchen and Bar (Liangmaqiao)
Contact:
Opening hours: 11.30am-2:30pm; 5-10pm daily
English address: 102, Ocean Express, Building D (behind the Gateway towers), 66 Xiaguangli, Chaoyang district
Chinese address: 朝阳区霞光里66号院远洋新干线D座102