Ricci Cafe

  • Restaurants
  • Cafes & Teahouses
Photo by Chen Chao
Found deep in the student Middle Earth of Wudaokou, we’d heard rumblings of Ricci Café for some time before it finally cracked opened its doors in early April. And while rumours that Brian McKenna, of ROOMBeijing fame, was to pen the menu sadly petered out, the result is still a spacious, modern yet cozy café. But can the kids afford it?

A good opening gambit is Ricci Café’s own Sichuan Spicy Mocha (36RMB). Flavoured with numbing huajiao (Sichuanese peppercorn) and a slight kick of chilli, it tingles the throat as it goes down. For less adventurous palates, go with the mango coconut (36RMB), a blend topped with cream. It’s fruity and doesn’t exceed the sickly-sweet threshold, with the sago floating on top adding a little chew while you sip.

Whetting our appetites is the salad Ricci Waldorf (45RMB). A huge portion arrives – enough for two. Assorted leafy lettuce is topped with pecans, round cuts of chicken, slices of green apple and sesame seeds. It satisfies with lively flavours, but begs for more bite.

Seeking a bit of comfort, we dig into the Chiangmai Curry Beef (48RMB). Chunks of beef, stewed until tender, arrive in a hearty green curry, balanced with sweet and spicy flavours and a fragrant amount of coconut milk. Served with rice, this variety takes liberties with the old Thai favourite, adding soft cubes of pumpkin to hearty effect. It’s filling comfort food, clearly aimed at bulking up starving students.

Bowing to local tastes, a bite of the zha jiang mian (32RMB) reveals it is far from authentic. It’s mild in flavour and garnished with parboiled bean sprouts and cucumber. The dark sauce is missing the strong garlic taste we crave, although the noodles retain that springy feel of freshly hand-pulled mian.

Thankfully there is comfort in the dessert menu. Ricci Café's sharing plate (88RMB), meant for two, is enough for four, especially if you’ve indulged elsewhere. Served on a wooden board are nine different desserts, including biscuits, cookies, cakes, a three-layered chocolate mousse and gigantic truffles, of which the green-tea variety are surprisingly good.

The prices here aren’t too student-friendly, with complete meals averaging around 100RMB per person. But it cosies up to its clientele well, with bulletin boards packed with posts and classes to sign-up for. Service is assured and competent, and the cosy interiors and WiFi make this the perfect hideout. Better still, plans are afoot to roll out more Riccis across the city. The kids might be left sharing a spicy mocha between three, but Ricci Café was worth the wait.
Venue name: Ricci Cafe
Contact:
Opening hours: 8am-9.30pm
English address: First Floor, Building D, TUSPark, Wudaokou, Haidian district
Chinese address: 海淀区五道口清华科技园D座1层

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