2 Wudaoying Hutong / Yonghegong
/ Dongcheng / +86 10 8404 9191 / lunch and dinner daily
Courtyard dining in Beijing’s tucked away hutongs is no new concept – in fact there are few more time-honoured ways to enjoy a meal in the Chinese capital. But though the tradition is steeped in history and prevalent across the city, it’s refreshing to see one Dongcheng restaurant breathing new life into the ancient custom. Under the direction of chef and Donglin Monastery monk Pan Jianjun, as well as owner and nutritionist David Yin, King’s Joy ushers in a modern era of hutong dining, with a stunning, contemporary fitout by star-chitect Yung Ho Chang, a message of environmental awareness, and an entirely vegetarian menu.
Both of the structure’s courtyards have been uniquely repurposed; one remains open air for alfresco diners, the other has been enclosed with transparent roofing to retain the feeling of being amidst the elements. A soft mist rises from the ground, bamboo weaves around tables, and wood and stone materials carve fluid, natural lines. Though the fare is devoid of meat, it is every bit as flavoursome. Maki zushi – a playful take on Japanese sushi – is made with wild rice, toasted sesame seeds and chili; ‘Monkey’s Head’ mushrooms are lightly battered and served with a piquant sweet-and-sour sauce; humble glutinous oil rice is elevated with shiitake and served in a lotus leaf. Choose from the solid wine list or opt for a wellness-promoting nut and papaya milk beverage to accompany. Pan-tastic!