Always on the look out for new restaurants to try, we heard from a fellow foodie birdie that Particles Kitchen (PK) was a fresh new spot in Sanlitun’s Nali Patio with a very reasonable lunch set and soft-opening discount specials. She went for lunch and had the Smoked Salmon Salad. Reported back that it was a bit too sweet for her taste with mango dressing in addition to fruit in the salad, but she thought the portion was a decent size for a light lunch. For those who like a more substantial lunch, she said they also offer a combo lunch deal – where you can have your protein of choice along with your choice of sides (which are displayed for viewing pleasure).
With a bright and airy space and industrial feel, we were excited about the discovery of a hip new spot and keen to get the full dinner experience.
Coming during their soft opening period, note that our dining experience at PK may not be representative of the finished product. On our visit, we noticed that they have quite different menus for lunch and dinner – lunch is “casual” and dinner is “fine dining” so our dinner experience may also not be representative of a lunch at PK either.
Chef in Action: Final Presentation Touches
First Impressions – sleek design and a lot of potential. Prices for dishes were higher than expected and for a restaurant that’s marketed as “healthy”, I was surprised by the lack of vegetarian options (for my fellow vegetarian foodie dining with me). I’ll break it down dish-by-dish so you can see the progression of our dining experience –
3 Slices of Bread for a Table of 3 (the end piece counts as a slice)
It’s amazing how much you can tell about the quality of a restaurant by their attention to detail – or lack thereof. This photo actually makes this bread look a bit better than the real deal, but at least you can see how they skimped by giving only three slices with that small end bit counting as one of the three. The bread basket is plastic and there was no care or extra thought that went into the butter and olive/vinegar dip.
Seared Scallop (RMB 58)
The first thing we are served, this dish was like a slap in the face. I was dumbfounded. When they told me that the starters were not suitable for sharing because the portions were made for one, I still expected the scallops to be bigger than my pinky. But not only are these the smallest seared scallops I’ve ever been served, the texture were super rubbery and more than anything, oddly paired. One scallop with a passion fruit sauce, one scallop topped with black caviar. I generally love scallops and this was a far cry from anything acceptable.
Steamed Egg with Sea Urchin and Caviar (RMB 58)
This dish has been done elsewhere in Beijing – Cours et Pavilions for example – and I was intrigued to see how they managed here. Firstly, the portion is tiny. In fact, everything we ate was a tiny portion so I should probably stop repeating myself, but for the price, this one takes the cake. Taste wise, it didn’t live up to the price or the promise of the ingredients.
Arugula Salad with Prosciutto di Parma (RMB 48)
Soggy is the word I would use. Drenched in dressing. Did I mention that it was a tiny portion yet?
Pumpkin Soup with Ginger (RMB 48)
This was an average soup, not haute cuisine by any stretch of the imagination. On top of that, yet again it was a portion that would leave a small child in a Charles Dickens novel asking for more.
Poached Egg Salad (RMB 48)
Nice poached egg over thinly sliced shrooms.
Ratatouille (RMB 108)
We had to fight to get this “meal”. One of our friends is vegetarian and when we explained this to the staff, they held their hands up and said “he can try this salad?”. There were only 2 options available on the menu for vegetarians. In the end, the manager relented and told us that it would be a great hassle for the chef, as they usually only make ratatouille for lunch, but ok we will try our best to make a dish that we already make. Was it worth it? No. It was worse than something I would make myself and I’m a terrible cook. Over RMB 100 for a vegetable dish that was the portion of a starter, but more importantly – why is everything cubed and where are the tomatoes?! Lacking any flavour whatsoever, And why did it take 30 minutes to come out of the kitchen? Oh, because the kitchen ran out of gas and they had to cook this on an electric stove (which they first told us was a microwave).
Sous-vide Codfish (RMB 168)
This dish was ok. Flavors were actually present. However, for RMB 160, I could go and get Bistrot B’s Wagyu burger at the Rosewood Beijing. I know which one I would choose…
Lava Cake with Raspberry Gelato (RMB 48)
Pure apathy by this point. Even though they served us this dessert to apologize for the mains taking so long, they also served this dessert at the same time they served us the codfish and ratatouille. A nice gesture in thought, but if you’re going to apologize, do it right. There were so many things wrong with this lava cake that it doesn’t deserve to be called lava cake, which should imply rich, gooey goodness. The lava cake exterior was stale and dry and the crumbs beneath the ice cream was also stale shortbread. The menu says Raspberry Gelato, but my guess is that this was just a generic brand of vanilla ice cream.
Post-Dinner Dinner at Neighboring Moka Bros
Thanks to the soft-opening deal for 30% off, we were able to treat ourselves to a post-dinner dinner at Moka Bros just downstairs. I think that just sums up our Particles Kitchen experience in a nutshell.
But somebody needs to have a conversation with the owner and explain to him what fine dining is at this point. We left hungry, we had to go to Moka Bros and get some sandwiches quickly before they closed to fill us up. I have never left The Georg, Opera Bombana, TRB or any of the other fine dining places in Beijing feeling hungry. I have also never been to a fine dining restaurant (or any other restaurant for that matter) that ran out of gas in the middle of an evening service. And even with a 30% discount thanks to the soft opening and the bill came out at RMB 375 for 3 people. It would have been RMB 536 without that discount. The are a host of excellent restaurants in Nali Patio: Velvet, Niajo, Mosto, Agua, and Migas all of which cost roughly the same as that. For me, there is no comparison.
Particles Kitchen Contact Details:
- Address: 3rd Floor of Nali Patio, 81 Sanlitun North Road
- Tel: + 86 10 5208 6109
- Email: email@example.com
- WeChat: bjweilizi
- Website: http://www.particleskitchen.com/
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.