Chez Soi Bistro in Beijing

Been there more than once!

I had several visits to Chez Soi Bistro in Beijing, see also earlier post: “Discovered Chez Soi“. That was in August 2020. Since then the bistro has tried its best to improve the food, organize events and have more staff.

See some pictures from my visits on 2 July, and in May on 12th, 16th, 17th, 24th and 29th.
On 29 May Chez Soi celebrated its anniversary with a free buffet and drinks. It was a pleasant evening.

New menu

I tried the couscous, it’s tasty but not the real stuff. The have specials every day, they organize a number of activities and also have life music every Wednesday. Caroline is trying her best!
Sometimes the dishes take a “creative” turn away from the official recipe (e.g. the Niçoise Salad) but it is all enjoyable. Some of the pizzas are tasty. The Basque Chicken got also better.

The unspoken disadvantage of the Chinese HSR

Many specialists but zero clarification

The unspoken disadvantage of the Chinese HSR leaves me puzzled and none of the so-called China Rail Buffs pays attention.
Here a pretty good introduction about the impressive Chinese network:

High-speed rail (HSR) in China is the world’s longest high speed railway network and most extensively used — with a total length of 37,900 km by the end of 2020. The HSR network encompasses newly built rail lines with a design speed of 200–350 km/h. China’s HSR accounts for two-thirds of the world’s total high-speed railway networks. Almost all HSR trains, track and service are owned and operated by the China Railway Corporation under the brand China Railway High-speed (CRH).
Read more:

One of the maps showing the network.

A great network

As a former engineer & project developer in rail projects, I can fully appreciate the impressive state-of-the-art of the Chinese trains and network. There are certainly improvements to be made, especially for foreigners, but if you travel between Beijing and Shanghai the HSR is highly recommended.

Arriving in Binzhou, Shandong, after another train trip.

I am also impressed with the stability of the HS trains.

180610 coinintrain

Yeah it took some patience but see the clip I made with a coin stable at 300 km/h! (click to play)

The unanswered question

However one critical issue is overlooked. A practical question:
“I arrive from Belgium by air in Shanghai and I want to take the train. The checked-in luggage for my flight from Europe has a bottle of whisky, anew  kitchen knive (so difficult to buy in China), deodorant spray and shaving foam. Now how can I go to Beijing?”

Well the answer is clear: YOU CANNOT.
All items mentioned are prohibited and will be removed during the “security check”. Those are just some of the “prohibited items” but are very realistic examples. Think also about your Swiss knife, hair lotion, some sunscreen types, nail clippers, …
I have not been able to understand if there is any kind of “checked-in luggage” system for the trains. I heard some vague stories there would be a some kind of service to send those items somewhere before entering the railway station, but it is not clear how and when those items can be retrieved on arrival. And then, how do you remove and repack those after landing?

In other words all the blabla of environmental issues and why you would fly instead of using a train is totally flawed. When arriving in China from another international (or even domestic) flight you cannot continue your voyage by train. Also, if you travel within China many of those items are needed during your journey.
I guess all the rail buffs now fall silent.

La Maison Lyonnaise in Beijing

In front of the Brazilian embassy

I finally made it to La Maison Lyonnaise in Beijing, located in the building that has seen so many eateries and more come and go, Hopefully this French restaurant will stay for a longer time. I think they changed little of what previously “Caravan”. Caravan has ceased operations as of February 14, 2020 after 5 years of operation. It served Moroccan and Cajun food. The 2nd floor is now basically vacant, where we previously had a book shop and a (great) Brazilian restaurant. About Caravan, see here earlier post with the details:
“Reality started to sink in”

I asked the French owner for the special Lyon dishes, and see what he recommended and we ordered. The bread is nice and special. Then Lyon Quenelle, Saucisson de Lyon, strawberry cake. And a Belgian beer. See details about the dishes.
When I was often visiting Paris (for work) I always tried the regional restaurants. Sadly many have closed to make room for something like “Western International Restaurants”… So, good to have this in Beijing.
The service was nice, the food interesting. Not a cheap place. All customers were Chinese… (except me)

Lyon Quenelle de Brochet


The quenelles de brochet indeed represent the authentic Lyonnais cooking, made out with really local ingredients amongst which pike, usually fished in Rhône-Alpes streams, and free-range eggs from the neighboring French region of Bresse renowned for its quality poultry.
The well-known quenelles from Lyon are famous for their delicate mousse consistency and subtle taste of fish. The word “quenelle” is believed to originate from the German “knödel” meaning dumpling, but the Lyon recette has actually no equivalent in other countries – and even in French gastronomy.

or in French:

La quenelle est une pâte moelleuse de forme cylindrique pochée dans l’eau bouillante. Elle est confectionnée à partir soit de farine, de mie de pain, de semoule ou de pâte à choux, mêlées de viande et pochées à l’eau ou dans un bouillon. Elles sont typiques dans la cuisine traditionnelle de plusieurs régions de l’Est de la France — en particulier les cuisines lyonnaise ou alsacienne. Elles peuvent se préparer en incorporant divers ingrédients, généralement des poissons (notamment le brochet), des viandes blanches (veau ou volaille), ou parfois de la moelle ou, en Alsace-Lorraine, du foie.

Saucisson de Lyon

Saucisson de Lyon is a large cured pork sausage in Lyonnaise cuisine. It sometimes includes some beef or a liqueur. It is similar to other large French cured sausages such as those of Arles, Lorraine, and Burgundy.


Véritable Saucisson de Lyon
Originally, the Lyon saucisson was a sausage made of a blend of meats: donkey or horse at the beginning, today beef, to which a mixture of lean pork is added (ham, shoulder, etc.). Its uniform, dark red filling, renowned for its delicacy, allows the cubes of lard to remain visible. It’s a lean sausage (only 10 to 12% fat), only consisting of lean trimmings, with the fat provided by the diced lard.

The Roots Restaurant

New kid on the block

Above the well-known Paddy O’Shea’s Irish pub in Beijing Dongzhimenwai, The Roots Restaurant has opened recently.
In a previous post I mentioned a small event we held there for a Rotary Fellowship Dinner.
This time we organized a small party in the restaurant for the Rotary, a post about it is coming out very soon.

Small but nice

The French manager Antoine is providing a good service with excellent food in a cozy atmosphere. The place only sits some 35 guests, it was formerly a Japanese restaurant, apparently a victim of the pandemic last year. They prefer to keep it small to make it cozy. The vacant rest of that floor where once the Indian Ganges Restaurant was (it seems also a victim of the virus), is now being remodeled and there would be another Indian restaurant coming.

Mediterranean food

For our group Antoine made a buffet with a North African inspired menu, said to be much Moroccan. It was delicious. I am a big fan of the sausages and the “stewed beef and tomato”, among others.
See the pictures!
Prices are very reasonable.
Our group was very happy with the food, the red wine and the Belgian Vedett beer.

Antoine also used his colorful North African tableware.

English Didi app is resurrected

Confusing for sure

After my warnings about the app on the iPhone, the app finally crashed. But now the English Didi app is resurrected. See the earlier post: Didi app disappeared from App Stores,

The Didi people had made warnings that the app needed an update and it would not work anymore at some point.
It continued however to work pretty well while requests for “updating” always failed.
That stopped late last year with an update for the iOS. The app remained on my screen but could not be opened. Luckily I did not delete it on my iPhone.

The app was still on the ‘purchased list on my Belgian Apple store but the app itself had disappeared. All the more confusing as the store has a Didi Driver app, to recruit drivers.
As I used Didi regularly I tried other channels:

– through the Alipay app: problem, all in Chinese. Then it also did not to work well for me, getting strange error codes like “bad pol id”. Ugh… Selecting a more expensive ride than seemed to work but without the easy use of the original English Didi app;
– through WeChat: also a bit complicated to find it and to navigate when using it. Again without the easy use of the original English Didi app. (screenshots added 21 Feb 21)

I looked into other services but missed the Didi app. And while the app was “dead” I continued to receive promotion messages…

Out of the blue

Then a few days ago suddenly there was a new message with Didi news. When I clicked, I could not believe: the app was working again without an update from the Apple Store!
I had to try several times to convince me, yes, it was working indeed.

Finding the version of the app is a challenge. It is difficult to locate and even more difficult to read. With some photo enhancing, see finally the version I have: V5.2.51.
How they did it, no idea but I am happy again!