This charming compact Japanese izakaya offers a trilingual menu (English, Chinese, Japanese) and is set with wooden tables and chairs amidst a buzzing crowd of rowdy diners. Genlaiken takes their ramen seriously and simmer two types of broth for hours: a full flavoured pork and one that is chicken-based. A handful of options include special soy sauce based noodles in a pork broth (30RMB) and a deliciously salty miso based noodle in chicken broth (27RMB)—eat immediately as the noodles get a little soggy if you let them sit. Rather, slurp and make all the noise you want. No one will hear nor care. Each bowl of noodles is garnished with traditional ramen accessories including spring onions, seaweed and a slice of tasty fatty pork. An order of lightly fried gyoza 12RMB for 5 were just the right side of crisp, arriving promptly alongside our noodles. The stir-fried Chinese green vegetable (25RMB) dish was kangkong stir-fried with garlic and chili and delightfully crisp-tender. The egg preparation at any ramen joint is like a litmus test and here, the stewed egg (RMB8) seems boring at first, but breaks into a pleasant surprise with soft yolk and a gentle familiar flavour thanks to a taste of sesame oil, rice vinegar and soy sauce—a perfect partner to a spoonful of rich noodle soup. The lunch sets begin at 30RMB and include noodles or crispy fried chicken thigh on the bone (40RMB) or fried prawn in special chili sauce (45RMB) including salad and fruit. The only downside for non-smokers dining here is that are no designated smoking tables, so you’ll be enjoying all your dishes with a side of zhongnanhai cigarette smoke.
Genlaiken New Japanese Cuisine Number 8 Xinyuanxili Zhongjie Chaoyang District (6468 5579). Open daily Mon-Fri 1130am to 2pm, Sat-Sun 1130am-3pm, 530pm to 1030pm. Meal for two around 80RMB. 朝阳区新源西里中街8号