New Orleans in Beijing.
While we love to cook here at Who moved my wok, we also thoroughly enjoy a nice meal out every now and then. Last Thursday, Elizabeth and I tried to go to a Christmas tree lighting at a nearby Westin, but we ended up missing it. Silly Beijing traffic. So, instead we decided to try a new restaurant that we had heard very good things about.
NOLA is a little slice of southern goodness right in the middle of Beijing. Located near the new foreign embassies and the twin towers of this capital city, NOLA is tucked away and shrouded in seldom-seen greenery and quiet. Just approaching the restaurant feels like you’ve left the city, which can be a nice change of pace every now and then.
This Thursday evening there were just a few other patrons, so we chose a window seat upstairs. The friendly waitress told us about the evening’s specials: there were happy hour drink specials, with many wines and beers being buy one, get one and all NOLA bowls were 20% off. We happily chose a wine and then buried our heads in the menus trying to decide what to eat!
We ended up going with the shrimp & grits NOLA bowl and the smoked tofu sandwich. I know, I know, the shrimp and grits is definitely not vegan, but it didn’t use any sort of pork and the gravy on top was a mushroom gravy, so I felt slightly less guilty about indulging. The smoked tofu sandwich was indeed vegan and was served with a delicious green salad. Both were perfect portions to fill us up with out making us miserable.
Personally, I love shrimp & grits. Growing up in the South, it was a favorite treat of mine (before I went vegan, of course). This rendition was pretty tasty. It was a bit spicier than I imagined and actually more so than I prefer, but I appreciated that it didn’t use so many meat products as they usually do in the States. It was also the perfect texture and creaminess — these were definitely not instant grits! The smoked tofu sandwich was a pleasantly surprising menu option, considering I don’t think I’ve ever seen something similar in the South myself. When I visited New Orleans, it was before I went vegan, and I definitely consumed lots and lots of meat that week. Anyway, the sandwich was tasty, fresh and satisfying. The smoked tofu was flavorful and plenty of veggies were stuffed between the slices of hearty bread. I definitely think I’ll get it again next time.
Since our meals were such perfect portions, we decided to splurge and get dessert, too. There’s nothing I love more than any sort of fried or caramelized banana, so we chose the bananas foster dessert. Perfect choice. They brought the bananas out with a portable grill and fired them in front of us. Unfortunately, the flames weren’t documented, but they were intense. It was then served atop a scrumptious pecan shortcake. Perfection.
This restaurant was definitely a winner in my book. It offers the quiet elegance of the American South right in the middle of Beijing, and all at very affordable prices compared to restaurants of a similar caliber. All in all, we loved NOLA and will definitely be back again!