Noodles from the Underground | Peking Tavern

Escape into a world of Chinese pub food at Peking Tavern

There's something growing beneath the streets of Downtown.

No, it's not a gang of giant radioactive turtles.

It's Peking Tavern, a Chinese pub opened by Andrew Chiu and Andrew Wong, two former architects who transformed the basement of the National Bank Building into a neighborhood hangout, accenting the brick-walled space with a marble-top bar, red lamps and jade lion sculptures.

"The inspiration came from the hutongs (narrow alleyways) of Beijing," explains Chiu. "The food is an ode to our time spent eating at pubs in Northern China."

Xiaochi (small bites) arrive in the form of doughy pan-fried potstickers filled with shrimp and pumpkin, or boiled dumplings, that you can sauce with black vinegar and chile paste. Shandong beef rolls–crispy pancakes rolled pinwheel-style with beef shank, scallions and cilantro–aren't as formidable as the ones at 101 Noodle Express, but still manage to impress.

The thick, irregular hand-pulled noodles are satisfactory, too, smothered in salty black bean sauce and piled with cubes of pork belly.

If you want to drink like a northerner, try the baijiu cocktails made with a stiff Chinese spirit that weighs in at 120 proof. The White Tiger Soda ($12) mellows the moonshine's kick with a splash of yogurt liqueur and pomegranate.

Peking Tavern plans on adding lunch service next week. As for us, we'll be spending more time underneath the sidewalk.