Yesterday, Stick and I went exploring at the famous Lady Street (Nuren Jie). They have some gorgeous flower stalls, manicure and massage places, and lots of clothes shopping. The shopping was kind of like a less pushy, more expensive Silk Market. I saw a couple cute t-shirts and sundresses, but I wasn’t too impressed and Stick was hungry, so we went looking for something to eat.
We wandered around, and headed down Super Bar Street (Xing Ba Lu), which I’d heard about and wanted to visit but didn’t realize it was right next to Lady Street. Cue comments about Westerners who don’t know anything about anything and should just go home!
Down Xing Ba Lu, we saw Dini’s Kosher Restaurant. When I saw the Hebrew writing and their kosher certificate in the window, I was suddenly starving, but it was Saturday, so, duh, they don’t open until sundown.
We kept walking down the street, which has Italian, German, African and Japanese eateries, a bunch of bars, club girls in crazy outfits, a tattoo parlor and a street barker who really wanted to sell us German porn. We decided on Biteapitta (???) based almost entirely on the amazing smells coming out.
The whole place is half deli and half exotic Middle East. There’s a diner counter with tall, polished-wood chairs and a glass hookah. My mint tea involved real mint and a lovely glass mug, but it was nothing compared to Stick’s coffee in a china shotglass, on a brass tray. (It only took one shot for him to start speaking extra fast.) The tables are literally shining clean, the dishes are unchipped and uncracked. If your purse touches the floor, you don’t want to run out and buy a new one.
We each got the set menu (between 65RMB and 85RMB per person, depending on the main dish you choose), which includes a bunch of Middle Eastern tapas and delicious pita bread to eat with it. With the set menu, you also get a drink, main course, and 2 sides… Get the vegetable salad for one of your sides, it’s made of finely chopped cucumber, tomato and magical deliciousness.
The tapas were awesome, all different kinds of hummus and vegetables. One of them is a rocking hummus with 50% garlic, and there’s an awesome tomato dish. Actually, all of them were very good.
We tried not to ask for more bread. Most Chinese restaurant staff make it very hard to get more of something. The waiter will tell you not to have it because it’s not free, and he may even bring over an English-speaking colleague to make sure you know it’s not included. If you’re determined to have it, he’ll powwow with the manager about how much to charge you for extra cucumber with your Beijing duck.
But the Bitapitta staff gave us more bread when we ran out (without any hassle), stopped by and asked how everything tasted, and also offered me more hot water for my tea. Our waiter’s name was Jackie, if you go, ask if he can be your waiter.
We stayed there for a while, picking at our food even after we were both full, sipping our coffee and tea, and just enjoying the oasis away from the grime of Beijing.
When we were ready to resume our adventures, a waiter (not Jackie) asked if we wanted our leftovers wrapped up. We said no, because we weren’t going to be able to put them in the fridge.
“That is very wasteful,” the waiter said, and walked away.
When we left Biteapitta, a hawker from another restaurant called out to us in that mixture of Chinese and English known to shopkeepers and barkers.
“ChRRR fan le!” I said.
“Oh, you are full! Next time!”
Then I went skipping down the street singing “I used the past tense! I’m so smart!”