Opened officially on April 1st, I was invited to try Lincey Italian Cuisine & Cafe just a few days before it became open to the public. Not only was this a rare chance for a sneak peek, it also gave me a chance to try a whole chunk of their menu as starters, pastas and mains were all shared amongst a large group of photo-snapping foodies and food writers.
Lincey 林栖 is an Italian restaurant located on the ground floor of Chaowai Soho’s northwest side, pretty much right on the corner just meters around from the highly visible Super Monkey gym.
Lincey’s owner Danna Wang, envisioned a warm and elegant space in peacock theme (which does give it some character!) as a retreat in the busy CBD. Lincey’s head chef, Lu Haibo, is said to be “one of the earliest chefs in Beijing who received training in Italian cuisine having worked in Italian restaurants as an executive chef since 1999”. On top of this, manager Cristian Rojas is an Italian restauranteur who grew up in Argentina and has worked as a barista in Ireland and highly recommends their signature Irish coffee “which Lincey is superbly proud of, born out of a pair of such adept hands”.
I think this blurb from their press release sums up Lincey’s vibe in a nutshell – “As the sun sets and dark velvety colors of the night encapsulate the city, the gentle and warm lighting begin to illuminate Lincey. Close your eyes and enjoy the feast of tastes, all the while listening to the light swaying music and laughs from your company. We may all live in the concrete jungle, but at Lincey, there is a retreat.”
Amongst our table, starters and salads were all passed around for sharing while each person ordered their own soup and choice of pasta and/or mains. As I said previously, tasting such a variety is the biggest perk of dining with a large group!
A sliced baguette came served alongside tomato salsa and mayo tuna. The tuna was not expected, but certainly an interesting option for a spread!
Bursting with flavor, these beautifully rolled sardines was a big highlight amongst the many starters that were passed around.
Presented angled in a nice line with gold bird toothpicks, this is a pretty generic Italian starter. Decent presentation, and a classic pairing of honey melon with prosciutto, but lacking creativity. And RMB 88 for just 5 pieces is pretty pricey.
This dish had our table “oohing and aahing” as it was served. Once the lid over the plate was lifted, the smoke spread through the table with a smokey fragrance. A nice show-piece and pretty presentation with the contrast of the deep-red smoked salmon carpaccio topped with quail eggs and assorted greenery.
Creamy in texture, this is a light starter and a decent portion of avocados, but lacking in flavor and the shrimps were over-dominated by the avocados.
Pan-fried with a tart red currant sauce to cut the fatty foie, this portion was generous with 3 nice slabs of foie, if that is your thing!
Their House Salad was large in portion but a bit awkward for sharing in a big group. Surrounding the heap of lettuce in the middle of the plate were small piles of bellpeppers, sliced mushrooms, sliced boiled egg, olives and other veggies. Most of the people around me kept picking out the olives and a few fork-fulls of greens, but this clearly wasn’t a favorite alongside many of the more exciting starter dishes.
Amazing contrast of texture with the crispy exterior covering the chewy, gooey oyster and it really kept its moisture and flavor as well. The poached egg on the side of the oysters was not easy to spread around the large plate, but a good idea for a dip to complement the fried oysters.
While the organic quinoa was a unique ingredient you don’t find often in Italian cuisine, this salad was rather bland and the combination of quinoa with chicken and cheese just seemed quite random.
The starter I was most looking forward to tasting was this stuffed squid! Points for presentation and taste, and while the squid was perfect, the stuffing inside was a bit dry. Though I should note that we ordered two portions (one simply wasn’t enough to go around the table) so this was a popular choice! Just needs a little tweaking and this will be a winner!
Featuring that same smoked salmon that was were served earlier clouded in smoke, the penne is bathed in a light cream sauce.
Ordered another at our table, the feedback was that it was a bit dry and could have used more sauce for dipping.
The lamb chops were nicely cooked with the port wine sauce, but the sides of steamed asparagus over slices of oranges and cherry tomatoes are just random and purely for show. There was also a pile of soggy French fries underneath the stack of lamb chops. While the lamb chops were chomped clean, the rest of the plate décor was left untouched.
Topped with a puff pastry, this one left everyone waiting in anticipation to see what was underneath! The puff pastry itself was sweeter and more buttery than expected – like a dessert puff pastry rather than a savoury one, but the beef stew in the pot was hearty and full of flavor.
Jelly texture is always a treat to eat and this one was both jelly and creamy. I didn’t care much for the fruit sauce poured on top or the neon yellow sauce drizzled on the side of the plate, but the cream pudding itself was a nice finish to our meal.
Served like a giant oreo, this homemade tiramisu was quite light and creamy. There wasn’t a strong coffee flavor though and I’ve definitely had better tiramisu desserts around town. The splashes of neon yellow and red sauces with the topping of strawberry and basil were all out of place.
Not on their dessert menu, this chocolate Easter egg was a nice surprise and a lovely gesture by the Linsey team to each of us who tasted our way through so much of their menu!
Overall, Lincey is off to a decent start and a welcome debut! There are definitely still kinks in dishes that need ironing out and the lighting isn’t ideal for food photography. On the other hand, there are some legitimately good Italian dishes on the menu and the location is convenient for those in the CBD, where Italian cuisine seems rather scarce to come by!
Their long opening hours from 9:30AM-11:00PM are also a big bonus, which means you can count on Lincey to be open earlier and later than most other restaurants so that you can get Italian food and that signature Irish coffee pick-me-up pretty much anytime throughout the day!
Lincey Italian 林栖意大利餐厅 Contact Details:
- Address: 1st Floor of Chaowai SOHO in Northwest Corner – 0105A, 1F, 6B Chaowai Street, Chaoyang District
- Tel: 5869 0078
- Opening Hours from 9:30-23:00
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.