Sichuan restaurants are a dime-a-dozen in Beijing, but Dezhe (1 Bei Jixiang Hutong, off Jiaodaokou Nan Dajie, Dongcheng district; 86-10/6407-8615; dinner for two RMB100), a tiny restaurant tucked inside a busy hutong, stands out for its forthright cooking. You won’t go wrong with the jiama ji, poached chicken served in a Sichuan peppercorn–imbued broth, and the xiangla huiguo, or pork belly. Though it had a rocky start, Super Ganbei (No. 4 Jiuxianqiao Lu, Chaoyang district; 86-10/8675-1138; dinner for two RMB300) at the capital’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art has found the path to culinary success. Helmed by inventive, Irish-born chef Brian McKenna, the kitchen sends out winners like Moroccan spiced chicken served with apple couscous and lime mint yogurt and the playful chocolate spring roll accompanied with mango salad and vanilla ice cream.
Built to appeal to Beijing’s Russian community, the subterranean, cheerfully garish Chocolate (19 Ritan Bei Lu,across north gate of Ritan Park, Chaoyang district; 86-10/8561-3988) packs in revelers of all nationalities, who groove to the wee hours as house dJ’s spin hip-hop, techno and R&B. Make sure to catch their over-the-top stage show, complete with leggy performers, a 1980’s cover band and holograms.
Carrie Lee, a Canadian-Korean lawyer-turned-designer, uses ethnic fabrics and exotic skins sourced from throughout the region to create the covet-worthy handbags and accessories on display at D-SATA, or Dim Sum of All Things Asia (Unit A116, Nali Patio, 81 Sanlitun Bei Lu, Chaoyang district; 86/134-3966-4067; d-sata.com). Socially conscious shoppers will approve of Lee’s use of recycled materials and the fair wages her artisans earn. Even better: bring in your own bag and get a 10 percent discount.
Originally published in the December 2009 issue of Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia.