In University City’s Delmar Loop, a traditional Chinese street food has become available locally for the first time: jianbing, a savory rolled crêpe incorporating various fillings and sauces.
Bing Bing, which opened in July, serves such crêpes, as well as appetizers, kushiage (kushikatsu) skewers, soups, and Aurora and milk teas.
The eatery comes from Yong Liu and chef Yijun Chen. Liu hails from southern China; Chen, from the north. The co-proprietors also own Star Karaoke on Olive Boulevard. Moreover, Liu maintains a career as a hairstylist, while Chen owns Ho Wun, an Asian-fusion restaurant in Fenton.
“[Chen] ate jianbing since he was a child,” Liu says. “One time, I went to Shanghai with him, and I tried it. I said, ‘This is interesting. Why don’t we bring it back to St. Louis?’ He stayed there, traveling around for half a year to get a recipe.”
Bing Bing fills the approximately 800-square-foot space previously occupied by Moya Grill, with seats for around 20 guests. Aside from remodeling to create an open kitchen area and adding lights, the room maintains its previous tenant’s light and airy, minimal contemporary feel.
To build their own jianbing at Bing Bing, guests make selections from the menu. Shandong-style jianbing, a yellow corn, soybean and wheat flour-based crêpe, incorporates scrambled egg, sesame, scallions, cilantro, lettuce, Chinese pickles and crunchy wonton. (Tianjin-style jianbing, a mung bean, wheat and rice flour-based crêpe, will likely be available in the future.)
Bing Bing offers guests two options for sauce: a traditional sauce with a hoisin base and a house sauce with a mayonnaise base. Guests also can choose from among more than a dozen proteins, including barbecue pork, lemongrass beef, Taiwanese sausage and Liu’s personal favorite: golden crispy chicken.
Sides include salt grill chicken, fried squid, pot stickers and spring rolls. Also, as noted earlier, kushiage – deep-fried Japanese-style meat skewers – are available; options include fried fish ball and lamb. For something warming, guests can enjoy four soup bowls, among them marinated duck soup with glass noodles, slow-cooked oxtail noodle soup and shrimp-wonton soup with seafood stock and handmade wontons. Guests should regard all of the preceding as intriguing gustatory options before catching Sweet Revenge from Upstream Theater.
To drink, Bing Bing offers a variety of unique beverages like color-changing tea, derived from the butterfly pea flower; flavors include raspberry milk, lychee, plum tea and aloe tea. Smoothies also come in a variety of fruity flavors. A couple of other specialties include a house-made milk tea as well as Thai tea and hawthorn tea.
Bing Bing, 567A Melville Ave., University City, 314-669-9229