Hani Ge Jiu
Looming proudly over the Zhonglouwan Hutong are Beijing’s only two surviving timekeepers the Bell (Zhonglou) and Drum (Gulou) Towers, and although the venerable belfries are no longer in use, the area is still thriving with new establishments popping up every month. The recently relocated Hani Ge Jiu – an ethnicky Yunnanese eatery complete with colourful embroidered cushions, flowery crockery and beautiful antique wooden room dividers repurposed as ceiling panels – is a case in point. But before heading into this cosy restaurant, be sure to climb the nearby Drum Tower for the exhilarating 25-strong percussion performance which kicks off every half hour!
The fiery bites on offer at Hani Ge Jiu have been carefully tweaked for a Western palate and include dishes like the winter-warming Gejiu-style hot pot, a mix of seasonal vegetables, chicken, pork and beef that’s heated at the table over a small portable stove. While waiting for the broth to brew, tuck into a small plates of deep-fried goats cheese with Yunnan ham, peppers and onions; and spicy organic homemade tofu. And if you start to get a bit hot under the collar, cool off with their mint, lemon and pomegranate-infused water or a jug of sweet Yunnan rice wine – phew!