Nestled atop one of Beijing’s most exclusive shopping developments, Transit can best be described as a fashionable Sichuan restaurant, as there is more to this restaurant than just spice.
Sanlitun North is the high-end development that Hong Kong-based Swire Group launched after the success of its Sanlitun Village a minute down the road. Now housing shops of the likes of Balmain, Armani, Lanvin, etc. this is one of the more exclusive shopping centres in the city. Sitting atop all of the shops, is a restaurant that is no less cool: Transit.
Very different from the average Sichuan restaurant in Beijing, this is one restaurant that decidedly plays to a hip, more affluent and international crowd. The bar serves correct drinks, in a modern, and relaxed atmosphere, and the dim lighting, and colourful design make the dining room a lot more sophisticated than any other Sichuan restaurant we have seen in Beijing.
Food-wise, the menu is clearly focused on the more numbing/spicy dishes that have come to characterise this cuisine from China’s south-west. Start your meal with slices of cooked beef in the red oil that seems to be omnipresent in the region’s cuisine. There is plenty of heat to this, and the beef (which is cooked) carries it well. This is a dish that is emblematic of the cold starters here, which mostly feature protein, carbs, or vegetables doused in this chilli/Sichuan pepper infused oil.
An interesting dish that is by no means light, but addictive is braised, and deep-fried oxtail. After having been cooked until tender, and de-boned, the meat is deep-fried, and tossed in a mountain of chillies. This is addictive not only because it is on the verge of entirely killing your palate with the spice (but stops just short of that), but also because there is a sweetness from basil that is served with it that cuts through the heat. The meat itself is crispy on the outside, and soft in the middle. Not much to say, other than it being great comfort food.
Transit has no ambition of being overly sophisticated. What it is, however, is a restaurant that has an atmosphere, and serves clean, quite well-made Sichuan food.