A Korean-run, Vietnamese restaurant in Beijing that cooks better Thai curries than it does Vietnamese specialities. Confusing, we know. But the generous portions, alternative offerings and chic-but-laid-back atmosphere make this a good spot for a chilled lunch or dinner.
We were excited to hear about a new
Vietnamese restaurant opening in
Wangjing. Sure, that part of town has
Korean cuisine on lock – and we’re
grateful for it – but it’s slim pickings
for other international options.
Our enthusiasm dampens slightly
on entering the space. Face a
certain way and everything looks on
point with the evolving aesthetic of
Beijing’s hipper restaurants – chic
wooden furniture and clean lines.
Turn your head though, and things
tumble out of control as you spot
massive, neon-coloured translucent
panes dividing the room.
The menu brings excitement
– banh xeo and bun cha? These
are things we haven’t seen since
Hanoi. In reality, the bahn xeo (filled
crepe, 58RMB) that arrives – limp
and flavourless – is not at all the
transformative experience that
we remember tucking into during
the sweltering summer heat in
Vietnam. Hanoi’s bun cha is served
street-side on small plastic stools
for 8RMB. You grab a couple bits of
grilled fatty pork, a bundle of cold
vermicelli noodles and a heaping pile
of wild greens and swish it through
a bowl of salty-sweet dipping sauce
for an outrageous bite. Flor de
Loto’s bun cha (88RMB) recalls this
vaguely, but the fact that they think
pale lettuce will do it for the greens
should tell you all you need to know.
They’ve got beef pho here, too. The
broth is delicate and balanced – if
not slightly weak – but skip the bland
shredded meat (medium 53RMB).
Perhaps we would have fared
better with the ‘Pho Fresh Beef’
Weirdly, Flor de Loto has a defter
hand with the Thai-style curries. The
yellow curry (92RMB) really pops
with notes of lemongrass, lime and
just enough heat to make mouths
tingle. The primary cuisine might not
be much good, but we’d come back
just for this.