“正一味 Zheng Yi Wei” Korean Chain Restaurant @Beijing, Chao Yang District 朝阳区

Last weekend, we visited the 中央美术学院美术馆 or the Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum. The Central Academy of Fine Arts is the best fine arts school in China. Every year, around June-August, they hold a graduation exhibition. If you are an art enthusiast, I can assure that you will not be disappointed by the collection of works you will find there. Only 15 RMB entry, 10 RMB for students.

In order to get to this museum we needed to take the subway to the stop called: “Qing Nian Lu 青年路”. Just outside of this stop are shopping areas, including a popular chain mall called 悦城店 or Yue Cheng Dian or Joy City. This one was called “Chao Yang Da Yue Cheng Dian 朝阳大悦城店”. This place was where we found 正一味 or Zheng Yi Wei, which is a Korean chain restaurant in China. 

Korean food tend to be very healthy, will this one live up to Korean standards?

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Kimchi noodle soup

Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish made of pickled vegetables. In terms of macronutrients, it contains mostly carbohydrate, fibre, ~2g of protein & 32 calories per 100g.  It is a great source of probiotics (lactic acid bacteria), which helps in maintaining a healthy gut; in addition to containing large amounts of vitamin C, carotene (>50% daily recommendation in one 100g serving), vitamin A (>20% in one serving), thiamine, riboflavin, calcium & iron (all >10%).

Udon noodles are often considered healthy as they are very light & easily digested. This allows energy to be quickly absorbed. Their caloric value is similar to those of other noodles like rice noodles (192 calories per 1 cup cooked) or egg noodles (221 calories per 1 cup cooked). Udon provides ~229 calories per 1 cup cooked (source here). Other than protein & carbs, udon contain very little else of other nutrients i.e. fibre.

I believe a simple anchovy stock was used for the soup. Anchovy stock is low in fat & high in minerals like calcium & magnesium.

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Pretty good standard for a ‘fast food’ chain. The soup might have tasted a bit simple, but it was still rich in seafood & vegetables. It was also not too oily nor heavy.

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This dish was low-fat & contained many healthful ingredients i.e. kimchi, vegetables & fish stock soup. However, udon noodles still made up most of the dish. Udon contain very little nutrients. In addition, the dish was not a significant source of protein (max. 10+ g from udon noodles). *It should also be noted that cooked kimchi or kimchi stew do not contain beneficial probiotics. These bacteria are most likely all be killed in the heat (I separated the kimchi topping from the soup immediately).  

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Cold noodles 

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The noodles were chewy & light (again, not bad for a fast-food chain). The julienned kimchi topping was also very distinctive. Other than these good points, the cold soup was too sweet & vinegary, the pork was slightly tough & tasteless.

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I am not sure whether these cold noodles were made from wheat or buckwheat noodles. In any case, one cup of cooked wheat noodles (~220 calories) contain 55% daily recommendation of selenium, 12% phosphorus, >5% of vitamin Bs. It will also contain ~7g protein & 8% daily recommendation of fibre. Buckwheat noodles on the other hand, contain ~192 calories in one cup, 8g protein, 37% manganese, 14% magnesium, 14% phosphorus, 18% daily recommendation of thiamine, 9% niacin & folate. The micronutrients amount seem comparable, however, buckwheat noodles are also known for containing lots of fibre & having a high amino acid score for a plant food (up to 100 per serve). Amino acid score is a method of measuring the amount of amino acids in a food & its digestibility; in other words, a food’s protein quality (more info here). Wheat noodles usually have a score of >60 per serve. But in conclusion, both types of noodles are not bad carb choices.

Pork is a good source of protein & since it isn’t red meat, it contains smaller amounts of cholesterol (depending on the cut). Two ounces serving (56g) contain 32mg cholesterol (10% daily intake), 64 calories, 6 g protein, 30% niacin, 20% thiamin, 18% vitamin B6, 36% selenium, 18% phosphorus, etc.

Boiled eggs are also a very healthy food. One boiled egg has an amino acid score of 132. Half a boiled egg contains 39 calories, 36% daily recommendation of cholesterol, 3 g protein & small amounts of many essential vitamins & minerals.

As mentioned earlier, uncooked kimchi contains plenty of vitamins, minerals & probiotics for your gut.

However, because the soup was a bit too sweet, vinegary & does not contain a lot of vegetables, I only gave this dish 3 stars.

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Fried chicken

Fried chicken is an incredibly popular dish in Korea & it is starting to gain more popularity in other countries as well. Since I have never eaten Korean fried chicken before, I cannot make a comment on the taste.

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Chicken itself is a healthy source of protein – very high in proteinnutrients i.e. niacin & vitamin B6 & low in unhealthy fats. Once deep-fried, however, this adds many excessive calories & unhealthy oils to the chicken. One serving (100g) of deep-fried chicken may contain 25 g protein, but it also comes with 298 calories & 13 g fat (20% daily value). Comparing to one serving (100g) of roasted chicken, which contain ~200 calories (depending on the cut), 30 g protein,  8 g fat (12% daily value). The healthiest chicken to eat is free-range or organic, as they are unlikely to be contaminated w/ antibiotics or hormones.

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Most of the dishes @正一味 Zheng Yi Wei are from mid-20 to mid-30 RMB each. It is not considered expensive, but average for a restaurant in Beijing. The taste is nothing exceptional though. More info about 正一味 Zheng Yi Wei @Chao Yang District 朝阳区 here: http://www.dianping.com/shop/4060447

– Izzy