Wild for Wings: Kuan Dian Still Brings on the Heat
I’ve been in a chicken wings mood lately!
Beijing is a cyclic city: we had a wings phase, a burger phase, a long island ice tea phase etc… and when I think of the past, I’m always wondering: “where are they now?” or “what happened to all them wings places that were all the craze back in the days?”
I don’t know what it is or why, maybe it’s doe to The Rickshaw closing and memories of RMB1 buffalo wings coming back. Or maybe it is seeing pictures of Wu Ge‘s offerings on Facebook recently. Either ways, I wanted some wings and set out to get them.
I set out to find out and my first trip was to Kuan Dian 宽店. (map)
This little eatery off of jiu gulou da jie is not so little anymore. Business is pretty darn good and they opened a second branch just 2 doors down from the original one. Heck, for it being a hole in the wall, you still need reservations otherwise you might be there waiting for a while. The wing crew, K & S along with myself decided to conduct the investigation on weeknights so that we didn’t have to deal with a mob of wing chasers and that turned out to be a good decision.
The original is off of Jiu Gulou right across from Luce. It’s a tiny place with a covered rooftop for winter and about 6 tables in the main room. The kitchen sits in the back of the room and the walls were decorated in simplistic student canteen style, much like those of Hot Beans cooperative but slightly more rustic.
We headed over on a monday night, about 8:30 and walked in to find the place full. K made it there earlier and had grabbed a table for us which was lucky. She also proceeded to order a first batch of mixed wings, mantou, corn and mashed potatos.
The first batch was a mix of their original flavor (yuanwei), mildly spicy (weila) and one sided spicy (duanla).. This was a good start to the evening!
We also had their smasher special aka mashed potatoes in Chili Oil which was quite the potent dish if you ask me.
Wings and smashers were complemented by some roasted sweet corn and a tomato/egg flour soup to fight off the cold Beijing winter.
Once we had enough wings to grow our own, we decided it was time to get serious and go for the 2-sided spicy (shuanla) as well as their perversely spicy (biantai la):
Ouch ouch ouch ouch! Let’s just say we needed a few more bottles of water after that and the previously spicy smashers tasted like sugar in comparison! K declined to try them so S and I had to do the honors and fullfil our investigative duties but leaving to wing untouched! There was pain… there was pain
The wings were mostly in the 3RMB range and the place had longneck tsingtaos and what not for reasonable prices. We ended up paying about RMB90 for the wings, soup, waters and all. Kuan Dian’s menu is very limited but what they do, they do will. The increased capacity was welcome news as it means the likelihood of getting there unannounced and not finding a table has decreased.
Overall, I still like the place and love the fact that they stayed true to their spirit: A bunch of students with a cool business idea that are still there cooking and serving.
The wings were well cooked and tasty with perfect glazing on the house recipe. I wasn’t a big fan of their spiced versions as they lacked dimension in my opinion: the pepper brought on the heat but without being playful! Don’t get me wrong, it did bring on a looooot of heat and I’ll go eat there anytime but I wanted more than just a punch that night. That said, it is still one of the better wing options in this city when you do not want to deal with the Chicken Wing Nazi
Kuan Dian 宽店 (map)
Xīchéngqū Jiù Gǔlóu Dàjiē 135 Hào