When it first opened, The Opposite House was the talk of the town. It changed the perception of the entire Sanlitun street which was previously notorious for tourist-trap bars with bad KTV, pole dancers and fake booze. Classy and modern in design, The Opposite House was opened alongside Sanlitun Taikoo Li South (previously known as Sanlitun Village), all run and managed by Swire Properties. Not only a smart and cool boutique hotel, The Opposite House was a dining and party destination itself with restaurants producing some of the best food in the city and Punk was one of the go-to places for hipsters to get drunk and dance to sick beats every night of the week. And the Village Café was there for some healthy eats.
Somewhere in the last few years it lost some of that sparkle. Punk was replaced by Jing Yaa Tang, a duck restaurant where everyone goes for the all-you-can-eat dim sum deal, Bei closed and Sureño has seen a few turn-overs in head chefs.
Fortunately, in the past year or so, there has been somewhat of a renaissance and the Opposite House has upped it’s game once more.
A prime example is their Village Café. A sparkly new menu with some very welcome additions (from super thick smoothie bowls to poké bowls) means that the Village Café is now back on my list of Beijing hotspots for a bright and airy lunch or lazy afternoon coffee break.
Village Café Features Playful Artwork by Plastered 8
On the rare occasion where we get good enough weather to sit outside, they’ve got a lovely outdoor deck with a wall of tall bamboo to block away the chaos of Sanlitun. Dog-friendly, this deck is also a great place to hang out with your pups!
The main aim was to try out the Poke which I had heard great things about but we’ve since been back with a larger foodie entourage to sample a larger variety off the menu. On our first visit, we warmed up with a Blue Breeze smoothie and the second time around, we celebrated the beautiful weather by sitting on their outdoor terrace with a pitcher of Pimms.
While the first visit saw the Blue Breeze smoothie served in a cool mason jar glass, the second time I ordered the Pink Greek smoothie, the presentation was less cool. In any case, these smoothies are a welcome departure from many of the watery smoothies that I find in other cafes around Beijing. Satisfying in it’s consistency, the flavour is also nicely balanced. You can also get it in smoothie bowl form, which is ideal on a hot day if you need to cool down.
(L) Blue Breeze Smoothie with blueberry, coconut, banana and kale (RMB 48)
Pimms Cup (RMB 68 per glass or 128 for pitcher)
Bircher Muesli (RMB 65)
Soaked overnight, Bircher Muesli is popular in Switzerland and Germany and this is the first time I’ve seen Bircher Muesli on a breakfast menu in Beijing. Creamy and fruity, this made for a nice little start to our long lunch. Village Café’s Breakfast Menu is available until just after noon so you can have a bit of breakfast even if you’re here for lunch.
Wowie Maui Poké with salmon, teriyaki sauce, avocado, macadamia nut, onion, coriander & sesame seeds on sushi rice and salad (RMB 102)
Poke-wise, we went for the Wowie Maui and the Kawaii Kaua’i.
The Wowie Maui is a crowd pleaser. Teriyaki sauce drenches the fresh salmon sashimi chunks and some salad and avocado to add a lighter touch.
Kawaii Kaua’i with tuna with wasabi mayonnaise, cucumber, spring onion & tobiko on sushi rice and salad (RMB 88)
The Kawaii Kaua’i is more divisive because of the Wasabi mayo. It’s a soft wasabi hit so it won’t attack your sinuses, but it still has a kick! If that is your thing, you’ll love this bowl. If not, steer clear of it and pick another option!
Pleased by the portion of salmon and tuna in both poké bowls, but I do think that it would have been nice to add in more ingredients like seaweed salad, homemade pickles, daikon, edamame, etc.
Broccolini Stir Fry in Garlic & Soy Sauce (RMB 28)
We also got a side of broccolini because you can never eat enough veg. While many often avoid vegetables thinking they’re boring, I personally loved how the Village Cafe cooked the broccolini. Steamed gently, with a nice tang from the accompanying sauce, they had a really satisfying crunch.
Dope Double Cheeseburger with Australian wagyu beef, cheddar cheese, pickles, vc sauce & french fries (RMB 118)
We asked for a side of garlic butter (normally comes with the skirt steak), which was perfect to slather over the fries and burger. Already super juicy, the butter just intensified the experience even more!
Hainanese Chicken Rice with cucumbers & chicken broth (RMB 92)
I used to seek out restaurants if they had Hainan Chicken Rice. Everyone I was eating with seemed very disappointed that I had selected this item from the menu, but there is something about Hainan Chicken Rice that I find incredibly comforting. While the rice was properly soaked in chicken broth and the chicken itself was tender, the sauces were not as punchy as I’d like. The dark hoisin sauce was fine, but there was not nearly as much garlic and ginger in the middle sauce and the chili sauce was also mild in flavor.
Beef Rendang Grilled Cheese with Sweet Potato Chips & Sriracha Mayo (RMB 68)
Grilled cheese on another level. If you’re hungover, this is going to be a dream-come-true. It tastes exactly as it looks! Bonus was the crispy, twisting sweet potato chips.
Close-Up Beauty Shot
Mango with Coconut Sticky Rice (RMB 42)
For dessert, we had a craving for Thai food and so ordered the mango sticky rice. If you’ve been to Thailand, nothing compares to the real thing, but this is a good rendition for Beijing.
Apricot & Coconut Sweets (RMB 6 each)
We saw these on the pastry line-up and wanted a a taste. So we did. Chewy and sticky, these may have been small, but made for a nice bite-sized post-meal sweet treat.
The core features have never changed. The Village Cafe has always been light and airy. A lovely place to hold meetings and do some work outside the office.
With this new menu, it is now once again offering some of the best cafe food in Beijing. It isn’t cheap for cafe food, but the quality of the ingredients shines through and especially when you’re eating raw seafood, you want that to be a priority! In short, schedule your next business meeting there and hope that you can bao xiao (click link for a fun explanation).
Village Café Contact Details:
- Address: Level 1, The Opposite House, Taikoo Li Sanlitun North, No.11 Sanlitun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China 100027
- Tel: +86 10 6410 5210
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: http://www.theoppositehouse.com/sc/restaurants-bars/village-cafe
- Hours: Breakfast Daily from 6AM – 11AM, Lunch and Dinner from 11AM-10:30PM
Kristen Lum has an accomplished background in PR, communications and events in China. Born and raised in California, Kristen has been based in Beijing since 2006 and is founder of the lifestyle blog called LumDimSum, covering mostly restaurant news and reviews alongside upcoming events around town that relate to Beijing’s muti-faceted, quickly-developing creative industries like art, music, film, health and fitness, fashion, nightlife, charity events, and travel tips.