The menu remains mostly the same: plant-based bentos and salads with influences from South East Asia and Tex-Mex. You can also get traditional Chinese herbal teas and trendy enzymes drinks. According to the staff, one of the partners had left, and they are doing a couple of new “upgrades”, which include two new bowls, sauce packages, and free-flow oden, available on Fridays and Saturdays only.
The new biangbiang tempeh rice bowl and winter salad.
Nothing beats a bowl of steaming oden in a cold winter. It’s like hot pot but with a much nicer broth. And the food is usually pre-cooked. Seems like a lot of expats aren't super keen on oden. There's even a few YouTube videos around with laowais trying it out in convenience stores as a “challenge”. Anyways, the free-flow herbal soup oden at Gwen’s certainly looks better than the ones sold at convenience stores. They use a recipe from their Chinese medicine pharmacist, who adjusts the soup according to the Chinese solar term. Last week, for example, they used eight herbal ingredients such as Chinese yam, fuling and Chinese angelica brewed specially for the “daxue”（大雪）solar term. The broth has an herbal and earthy smell but the taste is very subtle.
The free-flow starts at 3pm, but on my visit, the staff seemed quite casual about when to begin. They are also very unlikely to give you an answer if you’re wondering what’s in the soup. The deal also includes a bowl of brown rice covered by their signature biangbiang sauce (or a spicy sauce for your choice) and costs 68rmb. With the rice bowl and ingredients such as konjac jelly and rice cake, you’re likely to get full quickly. So a regular dish might be a better deal for those who eat like a bird.
Anyway, the oden was nice. Ingredients are fresh and assembled creatively. Their veggie ball is a must try. Mulled wine is also available now, 78rmb for three glasses.
Gwen's Jiang is at 25 Yanqing Lu, near Donghu Lu.