Taste of Home in Beijing
Trodding off the beaten path in search of a restaurant is guaranteed to build up an appetite. And that’s just one of many reasons why cozy private kitchens and culinary schools have been flourishing. Besides offering home-style dining, they are also hubs for inventive chefs.
Hutong Cuisine Cooking School
Mastering an age-old Peking Duck recipe is not beyond the grasp of home chefs, especially when the lesson takes place in a Qing Dynasty courtyard. Inspiration abounds within the historic architecture of the Hutong Cuisine Cooking School, as students encase chunks of barbecued pork in dough to create char siu buns, or learn to prepare a glaze for succulent roast duck.
Whether it is a cooking competition, cooking class or special dinner to wow the most demanding gastronome, The Hutong Kitchen hosts private events and serves up authentic spreads in its kitchen, tea room, courtyard and even on its roof-terrace. Those harboring secret Masterchef ambitions can also learn to julienne a potato with a cleaver or sculpt organic tofu. Hutong Cuisine Cooking School: 35 DengCao Hutong, DongSi South St, Dongcheng District; +86-10-8401-478
This is cultural fusion at its best: Authentic trattoria fare, sequestered within a labyrinth of hutongs. Located off the uber-gentrified Nanluoguxiang stretch, Mercante has quickly stood out for its intimate setting (there are just eight tables), quality ingredients (Cervian sea salt seasons a beef fillet) and home-made dishes (fresh parpadelle topped with a duck or rabbit ragu). Mercante: Fangzhuanchang Hutong; +86-10-8402-5098
Bao Yuan Dumpling House
Don’t be fooled by its unassuming façade. The entrance of Bao Yuan Dumpling House, marked by a fluorescent lit-signboard and red paper lanterns, is a gateway into plebeian culinary pleasures. The local institution is revered for its democratically priced, Crayola-hued dumplings that correspond to different fillings. Easy on the eyes and a party in the mouth, the vegetable juice-tinted parcels are best consumed with cold side dishes and beer for the true Beijing experience. Bao Yuan Dumpling House: 6 Maizidian Jie, Chaoyang District; +86-10-6586-4967
Black Sesame Kitchen
Few things bring people together like food. Taking shared epicurean journeys to the next level is Black Sesame Kitchen. Nestled within a residential courtyard, the private kitchen and cooking school specializes in home-style Beijing and Sichuan cuisine, and aims to replicate owner Jen Lin-Liu’s legendary dinner parties. Black Sesame Kitchen: 28 Zhong Lao Hutong, Dongcheng District; +86-1369-147-4408