2020 is a tough year

My Jenny Lou is closed

2020 is a tough year for many businesses in Beijing, too many to mention. Some are simply the victim of the wave of destruction in Beijing, in particular in my gongti area (Worker’s Stadium), for others it is the impact of COVID-19.

My favorite Jenny Lou decided to close, it was in front of Buona Bocca and Mala Bocca (Xindong Lu, the small street of Jiamei Dental), see how it looked like in February 2020. Reason: too few foreign customers… as many cannot be back.

Another victim is Cafe de la Poste, was in operation for some 15 years.

Gongti destruction

As posted earlier, most within the gongti area is to be razed.

See here an update with the buildings on the north side being demolished, the coffeeshop also marked “to destroy”, Superlife biting the dust and our beloved Legend Beer and Laburnum Thai Restaurant being smashed to pieces. The whole gongti area is becoming very flat…

See the date of the picture.
It seems some buildings will be spared (IQIYI and the “hotel”) but who knows… Also the fate of (formerly called) Gongti Yibai (Gongti 100 see how it was originally https://www.frommers.com/destinations/beijing/active-pursuits) remains unclear but Club One Third is still making a mess of the traffic in the street till early morning hours.


Morel Restaurant full house

Old China Hands

Morel Restaurant full house started on Friday 2 October with our monthly Old China Hands lunch. Right in the middle of the October 1 holidays we attracted over 30 people in a full restaurant. Happy to see some of our friends coming back from abroad.
A film crew was there to make a movie about our Belgian friend Wilfried and his China story.
Again a nice mix of nationalities. But we need more ladies!

Next lunch Friday 6 November.

We had to wait

I went back to Morel’s Restaurant for dinner, finding a totally full house. Even our usual table was taken, by some American friends from Amcham. So we had to camp outside waiting for our turn, to have a table and to be served dinner. Yeah tough as we had to compensate with great Belgian beer and French rosé.


Most of us went for the famous Martino sandwich, my one with the extra anchovies. Delicious! This sandwich, as some other ones are not yet on the menu. Only on demand and prepared by chef Renaat in person.

Great to see people again resuming normal life in Beijing, the safest place to be!
Morel’s did not close during the October 1 holidays and has seen full house most of the time. Interestingly, most of the customers are now Chinese, except for some groups.

Cold pink soup and mooncakes

Cold pink soup

While Morel’s Restaurant and Café has a pretty standard menu over the years, cold pink soup and mooncakes were very recent surprises.

The cold soup is simply delicious, called Šaltibarščiai, or cold borscht with kefir. Lithuanian Cuisine. It is not yet on the normal menu.

Kefir or kephir, is a fermented milk drink similar to a thin yogurt that is made from kefir grains, a specific type of mesophilic symbiotic culture. The drink originated in the North Caucasus, Eastern Europe and Russia, where it is prepared by inoculating cow, goat, or sheep milk with kefir grains. It’s made by pouring milk over kefir grains, which are a cluster of bacteria and yeast. After about 24 hours, the microorganisms inside the kefir grains multiply and ferment the sugars in the milk.

Šaltibarščiai – cold pink soup
Kefir is not available everywhere, buttermilk with a little bit more lemon juice is a good alternative, or any mix of yogurt, buttermilk, and sour cream. This soup is best made ahead, as it needs a few hours to develop more flavor.

  • 1 liter kefir
  • 2 medium red beets, cooked
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh dill
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 4 hard cooked eggs, peeled
  • 4 medium potatoes, cooked and peeled

It is one of the many recipes on the Internet. More, see:

Special mooncakes

I was a bit surprised to learn that Morel’s is making mooncakes. I checked the packing, pretty ingenious and efficient, two per box. I tasted one of the different varieties and it was a pleasant experience. The outside is not so dry and hard as the normal Chinese ones, it is a bit like croissant, the filling is soft and moist.
A new type of mooncake, approved! For sale, two pieces for RMB 28.

NVP Garden Buffet

Netherlands Embassy

On Sunday 13 September 2020 we had the NVP Garden Buffet as a “welcome back” event, in the Dutch embassy. I am a member of the NVP, the “Nederlandse Vereniging Peking“, some other Flemish friends are also member.
The NVP has been very active and once again the buffet in the garden of the embassy was a success, with some 100 people participating, including many children who had a great time.

It was also the last event with our friend Willem as the president of the NVP. He has done a wonderful job and hopefully the new incoming team can continue the good work.
Catering was by Morel’s Restaurant, a guarantee for good and copious food to satisfy everybody. As our friend Renaat needed help, I happily volunteered to help Willem and Renaat.

It is always an interesting experience to see how much preparation and work is involved to set up a buffet and make the guests happy. Willem thought of everything for the setup, Renaat and his team was efficient as always. A great experience!

Belgian buffet

Thanks to the Dutch ambassador for letting the NVP organize the buffet in the embassy, that also has a nice big kitchen. In his speech, the ambassador thanked Willem for his work with the NVP.

We were lucky with the weather: not too hot, blue sky, a nice sun.
See the pictures of the preparation and of the buffet.

Discovered Chez Soi

Belgian National Day

Because of Belgian National Day in Beijing I discovered Chez Soi. My first impression for some reason was not good so I did not attend the “event”. I wonder if anybody turned up actually.
I know the location, formerly it was a coffee shop where I went once. That time I was disappointed they did not have a decaf.

By the way, Belgian National Day is normally not celebrated in Beijing, the embassy seems to ignore it completely. as they are not very social anyway (to put it midly). We usually celebrate “National Day” on 15 November, King’s Day, when people are around, unlike in July.
The King’s Feast (Dutch: Koningsfeest, French: Fête du Roi, German: Festtag des Königs) has been celebrated in Belgium on November 15 since 1866. Since 2001, the Belgian Federal Parliament has held a ceremony in honor of the King, in the presence of members of the Belgian Royal Family and other dignitaries. So Says Wikipedia.


Another try

On 8 August I wanted to be alone, quietly, to read a bit. So I thought I try Chez Soi, will be quiet.

That was a “miscalculation”. As it happens, some ladies recognized me and we had a lively conversation in French. I also met a lady from the Walloon section in our embassy, she is the one who put up the nice poster. And of course Stéphanie, co-founder. (Need to make a better pic next time of us two…)
The place is actually pretty OK, food reasonable, service very friendly, so my first impression was wrong.
Their address is misleading – blame Beijing administration – as it is officially on Gongti Dong Lu but the location is actually in Dongdaqiao Lu. You need to really look for it. See the pics, easy to find because of the book shop… Once you know.