Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Beijing's fourth best deal

Life in Beijing has a few perqs. Sure, we may be in the midst of a 100 day drought. And sometimes when I blow my nose, the snot comes out black. But forget about all that stuff for a moment while I tell you about Beijing's fourth best deal.

Inevitably, some of you tricksters will want to know what Beijing's first through third best deals are, so I'll just get them out of the way. (survey says…*ding*)

1. Domestic help, affectionately known as an Ayi. The going rate for an Ayi here in Beijing is, in my opinion, far and away the best deal in Beijing. We recently began teaching our Ayi how to make all sorts of stuff like pizza dough, cinnamon rolls and chocolate chip cookies, so expect me to gain about 20 pounds when she gets back from her Spring Festival break.

2. Public transportation. Using a public transport card, you can get around on Beijing buses for as little as 6 cents and go anywhere on the subway for about 30 cents (except the airport which will set you back $3.50). That makes BART feel like a luxury brand. A really ugly luxury brand stuck in the 1980s that reeks of vomit and urine.

3. Hand-pulled noodles. Now that I know that you have to go 10 rounds with a lump of dough to produce a bowl or two of hand-pulled noodles, the $1 bowls of noodles at my local green-awning Lanzhou beef noodle soup joint seem like even more of a deal.

Now on to our main event. Beijing's fourth best deal.

4. Mondays at Flamme. Element Fresh chef Jeffrey Powell had a brilliant idea. Let's have all the quality of Element Fresh without the burden of all that healthy mumbo jumbo. And thus Flamme Steakhouse was born.

For a limited time, the house steak (98 rmb for 150g, 138 for 260) is buy one, get one free on Monday and Tuesday. Plus, Happy Hour goes all night on Mondays so drinks are 50 percent off.

In a shameless plug on M's behalf, this month's copy of The Beijinger has a coupon for a free drink at Flamme on page 33.

I've had varying quality levels on the steaks during the few times I've been, but considering how hard it is to get a decent affordable steak in this city, I'm more than happy. Depending on how you look at it, the fact that the steaks arrive in about 5 minutes time could be a really good thing, or a really bad thing...

And honestly, I'd keep coming back just for the sides. Their classic fries are the best fries I've had in Beijing, and if you need more fries, you can always double up with their garlic parmesan skinny fries. The creamed spinach and squash roasted with butter and sage are serious tastiness, but be forewarned, they're definitely not guilt-free.

If you can handle another dose of deep fry, the zucchini chips are a great deal. 28 kuai for a big bowl, but they're better if you share them with a group.

So the next time you're sick of riding around on the subway eating noodles with your Ayi, get off at Tuanjiehu and head over to Flamme in the Village.


Greg said...

And I thought the Cairo subways were a bargain at 17 cents per ride. Once I go broke in New York, I'm moving to Beijing. Or Peking... I hear that city is cheap, too.

J.Dou said...

Going broke in New York shouldn't take that long, eh? :P