Rows of flavoured soju inside Saveurs de Corée

Cuisine: Korean

Price: 59-159 RMB

Area: Nanluoguxiang

Note: SdC Patio is not to be confused with SdC Grill, which is located on a different hutong just east of SdC Patio’s location.

Warm weather is here at last!!! It’s time to eat outdoors in this perfect in-between season. Saveurs de Corée Patio offers not only some of the best Korean food I’ve had in Beijing, but a serene, quiet little outdoor space to enjoy the sunshine while you eat.

We showed up just before 2:30, when the lunch shift was ending, but we were still graciously ushered in.

Ingredient quality is remarkable here, particularly the purple, fragrant rice. All the dishes we had were sensational for their contrasts: crunchy and soft, sweet and sour, cool and hot, rich and refreshing.

Here are the highlights:

Pomegranate soju was incredible. Soju is a great mixer because its flavour is very robust but also gets along beautifully with other flavours. Plus this is one beautiful cocktail.

Deep-fried tofu with pickled onions came with the basic set menu. This is a pure texture dish, crunchy outside and meltingly soft inside. The pickled onions were very strongly flavoured and went beautifully with the bland tofu.

Steamed pumpkin with kimchi was surprising and stunningly delicious. When our first kimchi side dish arrived, we found it too sour – however, it paired beautifully with the sweet and unctuous pumpkin. The flavour grew on us with every bite, the crunchy cold kimchi and warm soft pumpkin setting each other off. This dish alone would make a great lunch with a bowl of rice.

Bibimbap Oh my god so good. The wide bowl produced a ton of crispy rice at the bottom, and the gochujang was excellent quality. As compared to the other dishes, the flavour was a bit bland, but that just meant that the quality and fragrance of the rice had a chance to shine.

Cinnamon tea is spicy and cold and sweet. Boiling cinnamon for a long time gives the tea a kind of smooth, slippery texture – or maybe it tastes so unusually good because it’s missing the mouth-drying feeling that comes from tannic tea leaves. (And cinnamon is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Korean teas).

Street-food style chicken were the best dish by far! Please, please order these when you visit! The drumsticks were succulent, clearly having been braised for a long time in a sugary soy-y marinade, and crisped either by frying or broiling. These were fatty, crispy, sweet, salty, spicy – they hit every button, especially when topped with simple, sweet pickled daikon. These really did remind me of gochujang chicken kebabs I’d eaten in Seoul,

The silken tofu soup was a happy surprise: the broth had obviously been made with a whole lot of shrimp (and garlic for that matter). Tiny shrimp were lurking in the soup, too, which was wickedly spicy, as the waitress warned us. Meanwhile, the silken tofu slides across the tongue like a raw oyster! Great for those that like spicy food in hot weather.

The basic set menu includes banchan, fried tofu, bibimbap and cinnamon tea for 59 RMB- it’s really an excellent deal for this level of quality and service. It’s true that some of the noodle dishes are overpriced compared to what you can find elsewhere, but the set menu is definitely worth it. Our total bill came to 245 RMB – which could have fed 4 at 60 each (we really didn’t expect portions to be so generous).

And as a plus, there’s a mini Korean grocery store next door (and if you’re interested in making Korean food at home, do check out Maangchi’s blog – she deserves her own cooking show!)

Saveurs de Corée/韩香馆

20 Ju’er Hutong (off Nanluoguxiang)
东城区菊儿胡同20号 (南锣鼓巷北边)

Open 11 a.m. – 11:30 p.m., lunch menu available 11:30-2:30.

Saveurs de Coree Website

Also: Beijing Boyce concurs, and has interesting info on the owner and his soju infusions.