Stone Grill House (岩极烤肉)
Location: Sanlitun Soho, Building A
English Menu: Yes
English Service: No
Most people who would walk into Stone Grill House would likely assume, “Oh, it’s a Korean BBQ joint.” They’d be wrong. It’s much, much more than that!
I was invited to the opening of this restaurant over the summer by my friend Chuck who works at the Australian Embassy. He knew the owner, a man from Dongbei province in China’s northeast. I was excited to have Korean BBQ again as I used to eat it a lot in my early years in Beijing. I lived for a couple of years in Wangjing which is known as one of the primary neighborhoods in Beijing for Korean expats. The variety of fantastic Korean dishes there was a delight. Beijing is such a big city that as you move neighborhoods your options of cuisine completely change as well.
Stone Grill House is located in Sanlitun Soho, Building A, 5th Floor. To be honest, the restaurants in Sanlitun Soho have been uninspiring for many, many years. We just don’t have much of a reason to go there! Years ago we had the excellent South African restaurant Pinotage until it finally changed locations enough to be put out of business. Usually, if I go to Sanlitun Soho now, it’s to see a friend living in one of the serviced apartments or to a special event such as one of The Beijinger’s many food and drink festivals. The nice thing about Stone Grill House is that from its fifth-floor location you have a great view of Taikooli across the street as well as the former Yashow Market which is now slowly being absorbed by Swire, the same developers as Taikooli.
The concept behind Korean BBQ is basically that every table has a grill and you order the various meats and vegetables you want and then cook them to your liking. Korean BBQ is often an excellent entry point for Westerners who have just moved to Asia as the diets here typically don’t have as much meat as we’re accustomed to. I remember my first meals in Beijing and never really feeling satiated because the dishes didn’t have as much meat as I’d been eating in the States. With Korean BBQ, you can eat to your heart’s content with all the meat you want!
Stone Grill House has a full bar and several draft beers on tap. They do some special events, such a Thursday night “Men’s Night” for gay men but all are welcome. When it’s busy (and it usually is), the restaurant has a great vibe. Many diners come here to eat dinner before heading out to the Sanlitun bars for the rest of the evening. Honestly, I’ve dropped more money here sometimes than I expected to!
As I mentioned at the start, it would be erroneous to consider Stone Grill House simply as Korean food. Dongbei cai would be more a more fitting description as all the partners in the restaurant are from the northeast, and there’s plenty of non-grill items on the menu, too. The sweet and sour pork here is a house specialty, and it is DELICIOUS. I’ve eaten a ton of gubaorou over the years, but this one stands out. I generally don’t like things too sweet and this one is almost tart, almost lemony. This is a must-try dish here.
They also have many different soups that continue to bridge the China-Korea connections that are found in the northeast. While I know my Dongbei friends love it, I would like to see what a Korean thinks of the choices here. A great perk with this concept is that there’s truly something for everyone. Meat lovers can get what they want, but even a vegetarian would find a bowl of soup that works or could also just grill some veggies.
The restaurant does get busy, especially on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. If you aren’t there by 6:30 prepared to wait awhile. Trust me – it’s worth it!