You won’t find any baccarat tables at the Sanlitun’s latest Macanese restaurant, but judging by the bling, you might be mistaken for thinking that you’ve stepped into a high-roller casino instead of a Macau-style restaurant at Nali Patio-adjacent Dessert King.
It’s a veritable gambler’s paradise with a golden-tiled path before you, and shiny adornments mounted on the walls of its three dining rooms, right until the illusion is broken when you discover that all the food – including their signature Macau beef offal dishes – is served in cardboard bowls. Hardly in keeping with the glamorous decor, but this quasi-fast food joint is open until 3am so perhaps they’re just trying to make the drunken late-night crowd feel at home.
In the end, it’s what’s inside the cardboard bowl that counts. The name Dessert King is a bit of misnomer and actually refers to the lightly sweetened broth in which each of the dishes are served. Thankfully (in our minds), the broth is not loaded with enough sugar to transform beef offal into a dessert, though it does create a hearty flavor and perfect accompaniment to the chill.
For lunchers and late-night loners, the meal can be rounded out with noodles added to the offal, brisket, or ox tripe. Noodles also seem to be the only way to grab a full vegetarian meal here, though there are a number of veggie sides that come in the same sweet broth. Otherwise, several other savory snacks are offered, such as pigskin or squid, both smothered in curry.
If you saw the word “dessert” outside and wandered in with a craving, you wouldn’t be entirely out of luck. The menu offers a few syrupy soups, but the catch is that some of them contain ingredients that basically make them a meal in themselves: mistletoe egg in a tea syrup, mung bean in syrup, and so on. The coconut cream with taro and the mango pomelo sago, on the other hand, are more recognizable as traditional desserts.
Odd design choices aside, Dessert King is a quick and easy spot to grab a bite to eat at any time of day, from an afternoon snack to drunken after-club feast, all the while, bringing a little bit of Macau to Sanlitun.
19 Sanlitun Road, Chaoyang District
Images: Joey Knotts, Dianping