Going to Beijing on Grove for the first time is a little like visiting your neighborhood haunt for the hundredth time. It’s familiar in almost every way — filled with people drinking and laughing, soccer and baseball on the TV, and the smell of delicious and comforting food hanging in the air.
Chris Tsui’s Eat Restaurant Partners seem to have found a formula for Chinese restaurants catering to American palates here in Richmond that works, and Beijing on Grove is no exception. When you look at the menu, you’ll see some overlap with Fat Dragon, but there are still enough new items to keep this spot from being an outpost of the other.
The chili dumplings ($5) are a savory and spicy way to start a meal. Soft, succulent dumplings arrive in a pool of chili pepper sauce, sweetened with hoisin sauce. While indeed spicy, the heat and sweet play so well with the shrimp and pork mixture in the dumplings that it’s hard for me to stop eating them.
If you prefer less spice, try the pan-fried pork gyoza ($5). Blistered on one side, they’ve got a lot of the same savory pork goodness of the dumplings but without the burn. I dip them in the accompanying side of citrusy-soy ponzu sauce to enjoy a mix of sweet, sour and meaty.
Though it’s on the appetizer menu, I find that the pai gow shrimp ($10) makes an excellent entree when paired with fried rice. Battered rock shrimp are fried crisp and served with a spicy cream sauce that adds a mild heat that is needed to cut through the shrimp’s coating.
The Guangdong fried rice ($8) — touted as an “ancient secret Chinese recipe” — is more enjoyable than I expect. Light, fluffy, filled with peas, carrot and eggs, it avoids the heavy greasiness that often comes along with fried rice. The soy and seasonings are added with a deft hand, and I don’t get too much of any one flavor — that makes it a great side dish.
At lunch, the chef Zhao’s chicken ($9/$14) arrives as fried bits of chicken coated in a sticky sauce that’s so sweet, I find I have a hard time eating more than a few bites. The basil chicken ($9/$14) is a standard Chinese-adjacent dish that consists of sautéed meat, vegetables and a brown sauce. It’s fine, but nothing about it stands out.
If the day’s made you very hungry, the rib-eye ($28) is a whopping 24 ounces of stir-fried beef on top of spinach fried rice — that’s large enough to last most people a few meals. The wok gives it a nice crust, although it could use more salt. The beef is fatty even for a rib-eye and is drowning in butter — but still hits the mark for the meat lover in me.
The Beijing duck ($24), is crisped to a mahogany brown, with crunchy skin that has been rendered within an inch of its life. I add the duck to the sweet steamed bao that comes on the side, top it with hoisin, add cucumber, and I’ve got a little bite that complements the duck but verges on too sweet for me. I taste a little of the coffee and tea flavor in which the duck has been smoked, but, all alone, the duck itself is rather plain.
Fei-lone beef ($18), filet mignon medallions that are sautéed with mushrooms and peppers in a savory brown sauce, is supposed to be spicy, but ends up as a mild, beefy, stewlike dish. The sear on the fillet disappears after it’s been added to the sauce, but it’s still tender and moist. I get why it’s one of the bestsellers.
For those who love Chinese-American cuisine — and the menus at other Eat Restaurant Partners’ spots — you’ll know these dishes. But there’s something reassuring about the knowledge that if you like one of its restaurants, you’ll probably like them all, including Beijing on Grove. S
Beijing on Grove
Tuesdays-Fridays 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.;
Tuesdays-Thursdays 5-10 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays 5-11p.m.; Sundays 5-10 p.m.
5710 Grove Ave.