By Kate Johnston
With an covered outdoor, brick patio and a large illuminated sign, Beijing on Grove has an intriguing appearance and history. On Jan. 1, 2017, 5710 Grove Ave. “return[ed] to its Chinese roots.” Years ago the Chinese restaurant Peking ‘on Grove’ was in the space, and then it became The Blue Goat, a more American-style eatery. Once The Blue Goat closed, the owners of Peking decided to bring back Chinese cuisine to the neighborhood.
Located at the Libbie and Grove intersection in West End Richmond, Beijing on Grove is surrounded by many other successful restaurants, such as Continental Westhampton, Cafe Caturra, and Jack Brown’s. Beijing on Grove is also a part of a group called EAT Restaurant Partners, which consists of many other well-known restaurants around the Richmond area, including Wild Ginger, Foo Dog, and Osaka. Knowing this, Hallie Rowland (‘18), Sally Ennis (‘18) and I paid a visit to the new Beijing on Grove recently with high expectations.
After calling ahead, we were promptly seated upon arrival, but immediately when I walked in, the noise was overwhelming. The restaurant was packed and lively throughout our entire meal. As described by EAT spokesperson Chris Staples, Beijing on Grove maintains the same “high energy and chic bar scene” as the Blue Goat, but with an Asian cuisine. With a functional setup, there is a bar, private room, high top, and regular seating all in the restaurant. Ennis, who had previously been in the back room of the restaurant, described it, saying, “there is a window into the kitchen, so we were able to see our food being cooked.” Every table in the restaurant was full, including the back room and bar. According to Rowland, “the bar area was poppin’ with people of all ages, but not many families.” Although, Beijing on Grove does not have the most family-friendly atmosphere, it is a very popular place to eat with a group of friends on a night out. Perhaps for that reason, most people seemed to be dressed well, with only a few people dining in casual clothes.
Before arriving, I was expecting a menu with all the basic Chinese dishes with a modern twist, and that is exactly what I found on the Beijing on Grove menu. We started with the two most appealing appetizers: the fried crab wontons and the crispy chicken rolls. The wontons, described as “[wontons] made in house with fresh crab meat, cream cheese, topped with shredded green apple and Thai chili sauce,” were favored by Rowland, who declared them “a solid eight and a half or nine [out of 10].” Ennis was a fan of the chicken rolls, saying she “could eat all of them.” Personally, I loved the wontons and, like Rowland, thought the chicken rolls were too spicy. Two outstanding appetizers lead us to the main dishes.
Our main meals included the Chef Zhao’s chicken, tangerine beef, and sesame shrimp that, to my surprise, came with a large, full bowl of white rice. Tangerine Beef is described as a “lightly battered and wok fried [beef] with bell peppers, Chinese peppers and broccoli tossed in a tangy citrus glaze.” Although very tasty, the sauce was fairly spicy. Rowland had the same reaction to her chicken. After her first bite Rowland exclaimed, “Ooh, that’s spicy,” and later added, “but really good.” Chef Zhao’s chicken is very similar to the traditional General Tso’s chicken, but with a zestier sesame sauce. The sesame shrimp was “very filling,” but not as spicy, according to Ennis. The portions were sizable, leaving Ennis with “a whole box to take home.”
Differing from nearly all typical Chinese American restaurants, Beijing on Grove puts a modern twist on the usual Chinese dishes.
By adding their signature tangerines to various dishes, frying certain entrees, and combining a new meal with a classic old Chinese course, Beijing on Grove is making their cuisine distinctly better. Beijing on Grove is not your everyday Chinese takeout, but each and every visit to Beijing on Grove never disappoints. While in the Libbie and Grove area, I would highly recommend stopping by to get a bite to eat.
Featured image courtesy of Beijing on Grove.