Beijing's Best Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants

Beijing Hutong
Beijing Hutong | © Nikolaj Potanin / Flickr

The real fun of being a foodie perhaps lies in the search for delicacies instead of eating them. In Beijing, the inconspicuous hole-in-the-wall restaurants mostly hide in hutongs, but there are some well-kept secrets in other corners of the city, too.

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Bistro, German

One reason is enough for Beijingers to swarm to Stuff’d: it has Beijing’s best homemade German sausage. To add more attractiveness to this restaurant in Jianchang Hutong, customers here can order craft beers from next door’s Arrow Factory Taproom. Sadly, the once characteristic big window of Stuff’d was blocked during the capital’s clean-up of holes in the wall last year, but this has only boosted people’s enthusiasm for the restaurant.

You House

Restaurant, Japanese

Without even a normal-size name brand, Japanese restaurant You House is quite low-profile among the jungle of designer’s shops and fancy restaurants in Wudaoying Hutong, but once you bump into it you’ll be captured by the soothing ambience set off by its natural décor, elegant Japanese music, and most importantly the fresh and delicious Japanese dishes and snacks made from top-quality ingredients.

Daxing Hutong Miancha

Restaurant, Chinese

Although there are quite a few restaurants that serve the traditional Beijing snack miancha (flour tea), it is primarily Daxing Hutong Miancha, a small, red-door breakfast shop hidden in Nandaxing Hutong, that locals can’t stop thinking about. The shop is a small business run by a couple, who for years have been providing the most original, down-to-earth flavor to fans of the thick, brown porridge. Although the shop’s location is less accessible, it’s not a problem for foodies, as they can easily find it by the aroma.

Xinxin Hunan Restaurant

Restaurant, Chinese

No one who likes spicy food should miss Hunan cuisine while they are in China. However, just as the Chinese saying goes, “good wine is not afraid of the deep alley,” one of the best Hunan restaurants in Beijing, Xinxin, is hidden in a hutong alley that requires customers walk through a maze-like chessboard of hutongs to reach. Even so, the restaurant is always packed with customers. It’s neither big nor very clean, but it’s full of local, down-to-earth life.

Xi'an Imperial Court Beef Bun

Sandwich Shop, Chinese, Halal

Ask around which part of Beijing is the most delicious, there’s a good chance you’ll hear “Niujie” from the locals. The largest concentration of Hui people in Beijing, it is heaven for halal food, and the takeaway shop Xi’an Imperial Court Beef Bun is one strong reason why people are drawn here. Its signature beef bun features exceptionally crispy bun and juicy beef and vegetable fillings. The shop has some other halal snacks waiting for you to discover as well.


Restaurant, Vietnamese

If you are not visiting Susu on purpose, you might pass right by without noticing it, as it doesn’t have a sign – there’s only the red gate that looks just like any other gate of a traditional hutong courtyard. People who make to Susu will receive a generous reward of Beijing’s best Vietnamese food, a tranquil dining atmosphere, and a nice second-floor seating area with a good view of the hutong neighborhood (better seating if you make a reservation).

Kura Zanmai

Restaurant, Japanese

Technically, the Japanese izakaya Kura Zanmai is not a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, but rather a hidden room in a hotel. How hidden? It doesn’t even have a sign above the small, inconspicuous door on the ground floor of the Hujialou Hotel, which pretty much looks like the door to a storage room. It seems that Kura Zanmai is exhausting every possible effort to show us what a kakureya (hidden restaurant) is. The deliciousness of its dishes is beyond description, and the restaurant has probably the most inclusive Japanese wine menu in Beijing. Reservations are a must.

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