Opened opposite The Big Smoke, and one restaurant down from BBC, Kuan’s (a combination of two names – Chef Kenny and co-owner Xuan Zhang) is a promising development for a building that has changed hands multiple times recently.
I will say that this review started in the worst possible way. The front door hasn’t been constructed with opening and closing as the main priority. I tend to view this as a sign from the food gods that this place is not paying attention to the details. If you want greater insight into this, look up the story about Van Halen and brown M&Ms.
However, in this instance, the door was not an ominous portent. What awaited us was simply good comfort food!
Exterior & Entrance into Kuan’s
Stepping into Kuan’s – Bar Area & Tall Tables with Stool Seating
Main Dining Room in the Back
For food, we sampled something from each of the categories – To Start, To Share, Sides and Desserts. We started with the kale salad, followed by the cauliflower soup, the braised beef, the bouillabaisse and the rabbit and finishing off with a couple of desserts.
Kale Salad with Pine Nuts, Raisins & Sesame Dressing (RMB 32)
As they served us this salad (which came out very promptly), the owner Xuan said that they ran out of ingredients and couldn’t make it the full size so what remained was on the house. A nice gesture and surprising as it made us wonder just how big this salad would have been otherwise! In any case, it was simple but tasty and a great start to our meal.
Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Shredded Duck & Truffle Oil (RMB 50)
A tasty cauliflower soup on a cold winter’s day, this is exactly what I was craving. Creamy and savoury, this really hit the spot. Only caveat was that we couldn’t taste any of the truffle oil, which is a shame because truffle oil normally goes a long way in a subtle cauliflower soup.
Braised Beef Brisket with Double Smoked Bacon & Creamy Mash (RMB 80)
The braised beef was really tender, flavorful and a generous portion.
Signature Boullabaisse with Halibut, Prawns, Clams, Mussels (RMB 88)
The bouillabaisse sauce was incredibly moreish. The quality of the seafood in the bouillabaisse was not quite up to par – while the portion and variety was indeed generous, the prawns were tired and mussels all shrunk to be teeny tiny.
Rabbit Loin with Pulled Rabbit & White Bean Cassoulet, Glazed Baby Carrots (RMB 90)
Already pretty full at this point, but still keen to try another main, we opted for the rabbit based on recommendation from our server. We weren’t quite sure what to expect, but it also exceeded our expectations! Served in another tasty broth with a lot of beans, it was a substantial dish that’s generous in portion and also a very
Pumpkin Spiced Creme Brulee and Candied Walnuts (RMB 28)
For dessert we tried the pumpkin creme brulee and the toffee banana chocolate.
The brulee lost marks for a too-thick layer of sugar that meant it was a little bit more of a mining expedition than usual. The pumpkin creme beneath was worth it though!
The toffee banana dessert was a pretty epic finale and stands out as my favorite dish of the night. I should preface that to say that I do have a super soft spot for anything that combines bananas with chocolate, but I’m also not exaggerating when I say that this dessert reinforced just how much we enjoyed this comforting meal.
Banana Toffee Pudding with Whipped Cream & Chocolate Sauce (RMB 38)
Not necessarily a ground-breaking restaurant doing anything crazy, but definitely serving up really tasty food. As the temperatures will only continue to drop, I foresee many winter nights spent in this warm and comforting little place eating to our heart’s content. Feeling lucky to have Kuan’s in the neighborhood!
Kuan Big & Dining’s Contact Details:
- Address: Across from Big Smoke, Taipingzhuang Nanli, Xingfucun Middle Road, Chaoyang District
- 地址：朝阳区太平庄南里1号(the Big Smoke对面)
- Tel: 177 0122 0285
- Opening Hours: Tuesday-Friday: 17:00-Late, Saturday & Sunday: 12:00-Late, Closed Mondays
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.