103 West Dianmen St. (DiAnMenXi DaJie)
XiCheng District (In the second ring road, just outside the north entrance to Beihai park)
The outside is nothing special, just a light-up sign saying “vegetarian restaurant”, but the inside is a wonderful haven away from the crowds of Beijing.
The dishes are simple glazed pottery or color glass (No applicaed chopstick holders here!) and the waitstaff are fast and thoughtful. But after a day of Tiananmen vendors and shoulder-to-shoulder bus riders, the restaurant is relaxing and peaceful.
This restaurant is an oasis of calm in a city where elbows in the gut and spitting in the street are common. The half-underground dining room has an impossible amount of sunlight. The staff speaks only Chinese, besides “yes”, but they were quite patient with my struggles and the menu is bilingual. Actually, everything we ate was so good that I’d risk a random assortment of dishes.
Meat eaters needn’t worry, this is no rabbit food. Even dedicated carnivores will feel full after the meatless versions of traditional dishes (Beijing roast tofu, anyone?), or some of the tasty dumplings and fried rice dishes. Careful, though, when they say a dish is spicy, they’re not kidding!
Try any of their amazing teas. Although the Chinglish descriptions of their health benefits can be laughable, the teas are tasty and the thoughtful staff keeps replenishing the pot.
China, with a Western toilet and actual toilet paper.
To get here, take bus 13, 107, 111, 118, 204, 810, 823 or 850 to Dianmen, or walk west out of Beihai park’s north gate.