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Chao Bella: New Brunch Concept for the Living Room

Endless starters, your choice of entrée, and exquisite desserts

There are a few great changes to the Sunday brunch at Chao, served up in their Living Room jazz bar. They're still smoothing out the entrée portion of the three-course set menu (¥437, plus 15-percent service charge; add ¥158 for free flow sparkling wine). But what they do well, they do exceptionally well. 

A bounty of surprising starters arrive -- a half dozen to try, and all free flow. So don't free about that last succulent bite: When the waiter comes around again, there's more where that came from.

And it's literally a surprise: "The concept of the brunch is actually reflected in the unpredictable aspect of our starters," they tell us. "Hence, each Sunday brunch will be somehow different in terms of offering." On our trip, we found the smoky pickle with rich Kalamata and black olive to be among the best. The paté prepared in house was a luscious porcine treat, the strongest offering of the lot. Tender mushrooms and shredded pork, with hints of vinegar marinade were just right. The fish and chips basket was unexpected, but that's kind of the point. 

But even with all those starters, get off your duff and head to their buffet of cheese and cured meats. It's a delicious assortment, with more of their skillful pickles. The rest is imported from Europe's best. 


Seriously: We love the passionate guys performing at the jazz brunch, but a table near the stage is almost intolerable unless you're raging for some jazz. We counted six mics on the drum set alone, and the enthusiastic drummer simply dominated our conversation until he got his hard-charging solo out of his system. 

But back to the food. The six entrée options aren't endless, but don't need to be. Vegetarians despair: It's all surf or turf. Even the Egg "à la royale" (a single egg foamed so delicately we were a little nervous) came ornamented with a sprinkle of salmon roe. 

We simply loved the mushrooms and spinach of the shrimp Florentine. The Hollandaise we could eat for days, over expertly poached eggs. We'd happily go back for more ... we'd just get a seat a bit further from the stage. The other entrées were still finding their footing, at least when we visited on the first day of the new menu. But with such an attentive staff, we're sure their game will reach impressive levels.

Be sure to eat your veggies, especially at Chao -- they're delicious and freshly supplied year-round from a dedicated greenhouse just outside the 3rd Ring Road. 

Then you deserve your just desserts -- justly praised as uniformly rich and delicious. Chao demonstrates the strength of their French heritage with these delectable morsels. We'd return to their Sunday brunch for the dessert buffet alone. 

11:30am-3pm, every Sunday
Chao Living Room
4 Workers’ Stadium East Road
Tel: 180-1012-5998

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Adam Robbins is Managing Editor for City Weekend Beijing. The peripatetic Yankee left small town Maine for an education at Harvard and UT Austin before moving on to Minnesota to help win marriage equality. When he's not exploring the ancient metropolis on his trusty bike, or building up the capital's LGBT institutions, you can find him relaxing and baking with husband and cat.


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