Beijing Feature


Legendary Eats in the Xiaoyou Hutong

A dozen well-known restaurants, some dating back more than a century and threatened by the urban renewal of the old Qianmen business district, have found refuge in a large traditional courtyard house in Xiaoyou Hutong. Some of Beijing's oldest and most famous eateries have regrouped here under one roof. Our favorites are:

Baodu Feng. This vendor specializes in tripe. The excellent accompanying dipping sauce is a long-guarded family secret. You'll see upon entering that this stall has the longest line.

Chatang Li. On offer here is miancha, a flour paste with either sweet or salty toppings. Miancha was created by an imperial chef who ground the millet, poured boiling water into it, mixed it into a paste, and added brown sugar and syrup. The imperial family loved it, and it soon became a breakfast staple.

Niangao Qian. This stall makes sticky rice layered with red-bean paste. It's the most popular sticky rice snack made by the Hui, or Chinese Muslims.

Yangtou Ma. Known for thin-sliced meat from boiled lamb's head, this shop was once located on Ox Street, in the old Muslim quarter.

Doufunao Bai. These folks sell soft bean curd, recognized for its delicate texture. It's best topped with braised lamb and mushrooms.

En Yuan Ju. Sample the chaogeda, which are small, stir-fried noodles with vegetables and meat.

Yue Sheng Zhai. Line up for excellent jiang niurou (braised beef), shao yangrou (braised lamb), and zasui tang (mutton soup).

Xiaochang Chen. The main ingredient of this vendor's dish is intestines, complemented with pork, bean curd, and huoshao (unleavened baked bread). The contents are simmered slowly in an aromatic broth.

Dalian Huoshao. This stall serves pot stickers in the shape of old-fashioned satchels that the Chinese once wore. These pot stickers were the creation of the Yao family of Shunyi, who set up their small restaurant in the old Dong'an Market in 1876.

The Jiumen Xiaochi. The Jiumen Xiaochi (Nine Gates Snacks). The archway by the lake in front of Xiaoyou Hutong refers to the former nine gates in the inner city of the Forbidden City. The private dining rooms in the courtyard are named after these gates. 1 Xiaoyou Hutong, Xicheng District, Beijing, 100035. 010/6402–5858. No credit cards.

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