One Man Band: Marco’s Teppan & Charcoal

The little compound next to the US Embassy in Liangmaqiao just keeps on delivering. I’ve recently heard friends raving about a new teppanyaki spot that opened up there.  As with any new place that multiple people start talking about, it got bumped quickly to the top of my to eat list!

Located on the 2nd floor of the CaoChang Plaza complex, Marco‘s Teppan & Charcoal (宏烧) is a small, but very well put together restaurant. Owner and Head Chef Marco is from Hong Kong and wanted to bring his expertise to Beijing.

He doesn’t do traditional Japanese Teppanyaki as you might think of it, this is more of a fusion between cuisines that just happens to make heavy use of Japanese cooking techniques – teppanyaki, yakitori and sushi. Our friends have been on multiple occasions (they’re big fans) and they are amazed to see Chef Marco there running the show from lunch to dinner, every day of the week. This guy is a machine and everyone who dines here and witnesses the man in action can see the intensity of his concentration and passion for what he does and the food he serves.

Yakitori Station

Tatami Rooms with Pull-Down Screens

Teppan Table on FIRE

Showing up on a Tuesday evening, Marco’s was a full house. The space isn’t massive with limited seating at the teppan station (about 8-10 seats), the yakitori bar (about 4-6 seats) and 2 tatami rooms.  With a group of foodies slightly too large for Marco to seat us all on the teppan table (which was our first choice for seating to see Marco up-close in action), we opted to split up and have one group at the teppanyaki and 2 of us sat at the yakitori bar (which wasn’t far anyhow). Bouncing between the yakitori bar and the teppan table, we got the best of both worlds! A word of advice to those of you keen to come here, make sure that you book well in advance and ask to reserve your seats at the teppanyaki table!

We began our dining experience with a selection of starter dishes before an onslaught of yakitori skewers arrived and main dishes from the teppan table. Their a la carte menu starts off with their teppanyaki dishes (their signature dishes), then salads and appetizers before their charcoal selection of seafood, beef, chicken, pork and veggies and finishes with some rice balls and rice bowls. Prices really range on this menu with their Wagyu Sirloin Steak at RMB 680 for 200 grams (teppan) to Wagyu Beef Steak Roll with Okra for RMB 22 per skewer (charcoal grill). With larger cuts of meat and seafood, I guess you can expect bigger prices associated with teppanyaki so we stuck to the yakitori side of the menu and occasionally splurged on a few treats from the teppanyaki table, which we were told we “had to try”.

The yakitori is much more affordable and makes a lot of the luxury ingredients much more affordable and the dishes are still really tasty. We particularly loved the pork neck, the chicken meatball with an egg yolk for dipping, the beef tongue and the wagyu wrapped okra.

Sake to Start!

Lovely presentation of the sake with very cute little wooden platforms for our sake glasses.

Mixed Sashimi Plate

Not actually listed on their a la carte menu, but we saw a few plates of sashimi served so this is clearly something guests can request!

Mentaiko Spicy Fish Roe, Japanese Mountain Yam & Natto (RMB 38)

Natto is something that we like to get wherever we go. Slimy, brown fermented soybeans might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and is often described as an acquired taste, but I can’t get enough of it and it’s just a bonus that it’s incredibly nutrient dense and rich in protein. The natto served here at Marco’s comes with Chinese yam 山药 and Mentaiko fish roe, which is pretty salty and fishy. While I love the slimy textures, the natto was a little bit hard and the balance of flavours just wasn’t there.

Crispy Chicken Skin with Vinegar Sauce (RMB 28)

A special mention goes to this dish – very unassuming on the menu and I’m actually surprised we even ordered it because it’s a pretty random combination, which happens to work very well.  This dish of fried chicken skin with sliced seaweed and light vinegar was refreshingly tasty and just very unexpected. A twist on a Japanese classic, this is something I would order again in a heartbeat when I go back!

Sake-Steamed Clams (RMB 48)

Served in a subtle and delicate broth, this is lovely and a decent portion of clams!

Wagyu Ox-Tongue (RMB 30) & Iberico Pork Shoulder (RMB 18)

Grilled to perfection and the turn around time is quick. Rather than order 2 of each skewer, we shared bites from each one and re-ordered our favorites. We highly recommend both of these as they were very tender and oh so tasty.

Baby Green Pepper (RMB 18)

With a kick of spice, these baby green peppers are not to be under-estimated! Small in size, big in taste and not actually that spicy.

Mushroom (RMB 12)

They need a better menu. Just listed as “mushroom” in English and 咖啡菇 or coffee mushroom in Chinese is an injustice to this skewer which is not just an ordinary mushroom. It is so much more. It is a marinated mushroom stuffed with minced pork. So juicy and so full of flavor and great value for only RMB 12, this one took longer than the others to prepare and totally misrepresented on the menu in both languages. Don’t make the mistake of missing this one when you order!

Chicken Skin Wrapped Quail Egg

This skewer isn’t listed on the menu, but since we were sitting right in front of the man grilling, we caught sight of these skewers on the grill (an order for other diners) and asked what it was. When I asked if we could order it too, he just nodded and we were so glad he did. If you ask me, quail eggs were destined to be wrapped in chicken skin on a charcoal grill. This is a genius combination and should definitely be added to their a la carte menu immediately.

Wagyu Steak (RMB 25)

Mighty tasty, it’s truly a privilege to be able to taste wagyu in any size, shape or form. And this wagyu steak skewer was no different. So tender, so fatty and so worth the RMB 25!

Wagyu Steak Roll with Okra (RMB 22)

More wagyu please! The wagyu roll is very thin, but nicely marinated and combining wagyu with okra is just another genius pairing. Marco’s is all about the wagyu and I’m not opposed!

Minced Chicken Stick (RMB 20)

Another example why Marco’s needs a better menu. Minced chicken stick does not sound very appetizing and this just happens to be one of our meal highlights! This chicken stick is essentially a giant meatball smothered in a thick, savoury gravy with a bright orange yolk for dipping. While this is a pretty standard staple on any yakitori menu, it’s executed exceptionally well here and you’d be remiss not to order it.

Marco Manning the Teppanyaki Table

From Cod to Abalone, He’s Got it Covered!

Roasted Codfish with Black Truffle Cream Sauce (RMB 138)

First seared on the teppanyaki grill, it is then transferred to a pot and simmered in a mixture of sake and some other savoury sauces. The result is a really tender fish that has a lovely crisp sear on the outside. This is one of Marco’s signature specialty dishes and really exemplifies his creativity and talents.

Sliced Wagyu Beef Roll (RMB 488/150g)

A treat that our friends at the teppanyaki table brought over to us, this wagyu beef roll was phenomenal. It’s not even that great to look at, but the way it melts in your mouth is an unforgettable memory. If you haven’t had wagyu before, this would be a great first experience. The beef is so unimaginably tender and juicy, you almost won’t believe it comes from a cow. This one doesn’t come cheap, but you certainly get what you pay for and we are just really lucky to have nice friends who were kind enough to share.

Marco Prepping Prawns

Teppanyaki King Prawns (RMB 168 per prawn)

The teppanyaki prawns were good, but just didn’t live up to the other choices on the menu.

Potherb Mustard Fried Rice with Garlic (RMB 32 per bowl)

We also ordered a fried rice that was cooked on the teppanyaki grill, but we had to cut ourselves off there as it is very easy to spend a small fortune on the dishes on that side of the menu!

Grilled Tuna Rice Roll (RMB 30)

Crispy on the outside and filled with tuna bits throughout, this rice roll was a hefty portion and came with a few pickles. A nice filler to end our meal!

Our bill came out to RMB 442 for 2 people and we both left feeling nicely full. Not stuffed, but satisfied and comfortable enough to cycle home. You could however easily spend 3, 4 or even 10 times that much if you have expensive tastes and cash to blow. The wagyu is there waiting…

While it may be considered pricey for some, I think Marco’s is still good value considering the high quality food, and some absolutely stunning dishes. The atmosphere is intimate and respectful without being overbearing. You can still have fun here!

A few small qualms to note:

1. There were at least 3 people smoking inside throughout our meal. HOW IS THIS STILL A THING!?!?! Can we all agree to call people out on this in future please? If they want lung cancer, that’s their choice. I don’t want it foist upon me just because I’m in the same room.

2. The music was a really bizarre selection of bubblegum pop from the last 10-20 years, with at one point, one song repeated at least 6 times in a row. This is not an exaggeration. The pre-teen girl vibe featuring Britney Spears definitely does not fit with the ambiance and food quality!

Gripes aired, Marco‘s is definitely worth visiting. Just be careful not to get carried away when you order!

宏烧 Marco’s Teppan & Charcoal Contact Details: 

  • Address: Located on the Hutong Opposite the US Embassy, Tianze Road No 19  Cao Chang Mall, 2nd Floor #202 
  • Chinese Address: 北京市朝阳区天泽路19号草场商业广场二层202室(美国大使馆对面存包处巷子进来10米)
  • Tel: 186 0098 5578
  • Opening Hours: Open Daily from 11:30AM-14:00PM, 17:30-01:00

About Kristen
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.

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