Looking out from China Grill on the 66th floor of Beijing’s Park Hyatt hotel, the world seems to be your oyster, and everything about this East-West grill house encourages that notion. Starting last October, when this 150-seat power eatery opened, foodies, trend setters and money makers alike have been exchanging stories about the city’s tallest restaurant, as though vying for a trophy.
Now I know what they mean. After riding two lifts to the top, my guest and I felt we had crossed from Beijing’s rambunctious reality into an aloof, darkened world where all senses are considered. Light jazz piano tunes drift from the 65th-floor bar below as candles flicker shadows over minimalist Chinoiserie and across Beijing hutong-inspired brick walls. While our bilingual hostess took us to our table, we passed businessmen brokering deals and sophisticated couples ready to say, “I do.” Just when we were about to lose ourselves to the smells wafting from the open kitchens, our focus sharpened upon unparalleled views of the CBD with its soon-to-be-tallest-building, the China World Phase 3, and the new OMA-designed CCTV Towers. We believed we had the best table in the house—until we realized every seat, arranged alongside the outer windows, has similarly unobstructed views of the city.
The menu is straightforward, broken down into steakhouse classics, simple sushi and Chinese favorites, comprising the best surf n’ turf ingredients from the world over. For appetizers, the blue crab cakes with spicy yellow tomato sauce (150RMB) rivaled the best even Maryland can muster. Generous, palm-sized pucks held together meat that was delicately ground, but not to a grainy mash, before receiving a delicate frying. From the Chinese opening dishes, we chose the crispy garlic pork ribs with dried chili (68RMB), and were pleased with the fall-off-the-bone texture, though we were left craving a spicier touch.
Committed carnivores will be overwhelmed with the choices here, especially those who have been craving a solid steak since alighting in China. The rib-eye (600RMB) was 350 grams of plump succulence, and though it comes rubbed with seasonings, we enjoyed the accompanying horseradish sauce to bring out the underlying wood aromas from the grill. Another throwback to the American East Coast was the grilled whole Boston lobster with garlic and herb butter (555RMB), the first of this regional variety we’ve seen in all of Asia in 10 years and a properly decadent dish for these sky-high environs. Even for its size—650 grams before cooking—the shellfish came out moist and sweet. The steamed scallops with enoki mushrooms, garlic and glass noodles (230RMB), chosen from among the Chinese dishes, were impressive for their tenderness, even at their incredible golf ball proportions.
Desserts are decidedly Western, and like the rest of the meal, no expenses were spared. Citrus vanilla crème brulee (60RMB) went beyond the traditional, understated custard sweetness by adding a topping of orange slices and passion fruit. There are several ice creams and sorbets available, so we chose the most routine flavor to test the quality of ingredients. We had already eaten our fill, but that single scoop of strawberry sorbet (40RMB) sparkled unlike any other I’ve ever tasted, so we licked up every last bead.
China Grill is reaching for the stars, and not simply by its sheer altitude. The design and food demonstrate an ambition that pulses through the city today. Service, on the other hand, was so humble and precise, we hardly noticed it. Or perhaps we were just distracted by the breath-taking view.
Contact Information: 2 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Park Hyatt 66 floor, CBD/Guomao, Beijing, China. Tel: (86) 10 – 8567 – 1098 建国门外大街2号