Måltid i Stockholm – Beijing8

All the food websites (here, here and here) that I googled said that Beijing8 was the place to go in Stockholm for Chinese foo. I put the phrase “cheap and good” in front of my search – I am Singaporean Chinese, and you know the stereotype about Chinese people and money 😉 This is one stereotype that I abide by.

So when the family came over from Asia for a short holiday, it made sense that we would come visit this popular restaurant chain.

Beijing8 (the number 8, I reckon because the number sounds like the same word for “prosperity” in mandarin and cantonese) bills itself as a slow fast food restaurant that makes its own dumplings with natural ingredients and organic house brand iced teas. It is unabashedly Chinese-inspired Swedish style food with a conscience, and has branches in Stockholm, Gothenberg, Salen (all Sweden), Paris (France), Helsinki (Finland) and Florence (Italy).

Unlike many Asian style eateries that claim to sell Japanese sushi but also stock Korean bibimbap and Chinese noodles, this restaurant sells a mostly Chinese menu. The only item that did not fit was their take on miso soup, which tasted more like a Chinese rice vermicelli soup than miso soup.

When I think of it, I don’t think I saw anything else but chopsticks (I’m sure they have forks and knifes and spoons if asked for) and steaming baskets of food.

Now the dumplings here are what you would call a guotie in mandarin. These are usually fried on a pan instead of steamed (at least I didn’t notice any steaming going on) and have a crispy skin with a nice juicy inside.

Here’s a video from The Food Ranger, the video of the guotie starts at 00:44.

There were a number of differences in this menu. For one the skin was coloured – which is usually only something served in exclusive restaurants in Asia. Secondly, the menu was quite funky, with fillings that you would not normally see in a Chinese restaurant, such as Chicken and Thai Basil; Beef Chili and Coriander served in a spinach flavoured dumpling skin, Pork Lemongrass wrapped in tumeric skin, Duck and Ginger filling inside a chili flake dumpling.

In fact the use of basil, lemongrass and coriander is a very Thai taste rather than a purely Chinese one, which makes sense considering the Swedish interest in all things Thai.

The restaurant front was filled with traditional Chinese dipping sauces such as black vinegar and soya sauce.

They also had fortune cookies, or as they are marketed – unfortunate cookies. Funny, but oh so American-European Asian restaurant like!

It’s actually my first time seeing fortune cookies in a Chinese restaurnt. Fortune cookies were made in Japan and popularised in their current form by US restaurants.

We ordered a mix of 8 dumplings (and another 8 later on) that came with side dishes of spicy tofu, potato noodles and a side of soup.

The tofu was spicy and vinegary. The vinegar cut down the oiliness of the tofu because it was bathed in chili oil. Then there was the sour potato salad dish which went down the throat really well. The miso soup was not miso at all, there was in fact cellophane noodles in the soup which did not have the rich soy flavour that a miso soup should have. This was more like a chicken cellophane noodle soup dish in my opinion.

The dumplings were really nice. It was a smart idea to serve the dish in a steaming basket on a bed of cabbage that absorbs the oil. The dumpling flavours worked really well, and I don’t think there was any dumpling that we didn’t like.

Beijing8 in my view is both Chinese and Swedish. Chinese in the food they serve but so culturally Swedish with its focus on organic and natural ingredients in their food as well as the choice of filing, contrasting flavours that work well with each other. This is Swedish Asian food I can get behind.

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