Cuisine: Korean BBQ
Price: 75-100 RMB per person
Tan Tan Da Lu may just be the best Korean barbeque in Wudaokou. The food is straightforwardly good, never playing with your expectations. The place is full of rowdy students, giving the place a collegiate, greasy spoon kind of atmosphere.
Dinner began with the usual spread of banchan, cold appetizers. These were pretty average, but we appreciated them all the same. They are just the frills.
Tan Tan’s radish pickles are particularly nice (and good to look at, too).
We settled on a bottle of makgeolli (生米酒). At 35 RMB it’s not too pricey, and its milky, lemony taste is very pleasant. Tan Tan Lu always feels kind of festive, what with the waitresses rushing around and students making a ruckus, and a bottle of strong rice wine heightens the effect nicely.
Our grill was quickly brought and heated up: the waitresses seemed to be performing some kind of grilling relay race, one looking after it for five minutes, then wandering off, then another coming around. We never touched the thing ourselves (I always like doing the grilling myself, and you can at Kaorou Le, but sometimes it is nice to sit back and let it be done for you).
Eventually the meat was done, and plates began to stack up on our table. The beef (we ordered the seasoned rib at 88 RMB) was absolutely delicious, sweet and made VERY smoky from the grill. The flavor was smoothed down a little when we wrapped up the meat with lettuce and chili paste.
Our grilled vegetables looked much better than they tasted: mushrooms turned into blocks tasting of nothing but smoke, as did the potatoes. The sweet potatoes were the only things that could stand up to the smoke – they tasted terrific off the grill.
We left, completely stuffed, faces hot from the grill and the makgeolli, another pair of students feeling lucky to be in Beijing.
Tan Tan Da Lu/坦坦大炉
4F Dongyuan Building, 35 Chengfu Lu (across the street from Lush…)
Open until 11 p.m.