Category | Eat

4 Reasons Why You Need To Revisit Dashilan Like, Now.

The Achingly Cool Coffee Shops
Forget Gulou– we’re going to go out on a limb and say that Dashilan has the greatest concentration of cool coffee shops per square meter in Beijing. That’s right – from artisanal Soloist Coffee at 39 Yangmeizhu Xiejie (where they brew only the finest and you can recline in old salvaged armchairs) to Berry Beans, an early 20th century brothel that’s been converted into a gorgeous café with a little terrace (No.7 Zhujia Hutong).

The Hip Restaurants
Hunan resto The Southern Fish (166 Yangmeizhu Xiejie) flew under the radar for years until they made it onto Travel + Leisure’s hip list. And they’re not the only ones. Inde Japanese chain Suzuki Kitchen (10-14 Yangmeizhu Xiejie) has one of the best spaces on Yangmeizhu – a beautifully zen long room, filled with light and with its own kooky picnic area out front.

The Mix of Old and New
Take a historic old district (home of the city’s oldest brand shops, opium dens and brothels), add a large dash of contemporary styling (thanks, Beijing Design Week) and you’ve got the perfect clash of old and new. For an insight into how the area has changed over the years, check out Beijing Postcard’s Public History Space at No.97 Yangmeizhu Xiejie, where you can hear audio recordings by locals and buy some beautiful old maps of the area.

The Design Boutiques
Beijing has long been a city where all the best independent boutiques are spread miles apart. Luckily, Yangmeizhu Xiejie has stepped in to fill the void. Ubi Gallery (No.62) is a Bespoke favorite – a fantastic collection of Chinese and international designers – ceramics, cutting-edge jewelry, clothes, bags and the like. Meanwhile smaller spaces (often hidden at the top of external staircases or down alleyways – go explore!) are fun to browse for simple Chinese clothes, handmade notebooks and other tchotchkes. Check out Taciturnli, Twelve Moons and the Book Design Shop.

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The Southern Fish

For those in the know, The Southern Fish has been the unsung hero of Dashilan’s labyrinthine hutongs for a couple of years now. The small but stylish arbiter of authentic cuisine from China’s Hunan province, there’s always a wait for a table at this restaurant.

The Southern Fish Hunan restaurant (Baitasi Branch) Beijing

Photo: Dianping

But now the owners have opened a second branch in that other up-and-coming hipster neighborhood: Baitasi. And here there’s room for everyone!

Taking over an entire building in a hutong behind the temple, its ultra modern design and clean white walls form a stark contrast to the scruffy surrounding alleyway.

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The Best Ice Cream in Xi’an

Shaanxi 13 Ice Cream

We’ve always said that  Xi’an has the best street food in all of China (and yes Chengdu, that includes you too). The city’s Muslim Quarter, by our entirely unofficial reckoning, has a greater density of eateries than anywhere else in the entire country.

And while when presented with so many options it’s hard to know where to start, there is a place at which we almost always know we’ll end up. Shaanxi 13 is a funky little ice cream boutique staffed by a friendly local team serving up flavors that are exclusively drawn from Shaanxi, the province of which Xi’an is capital.

While you’ll find a few traditional choices here, it’s the more unique tastes that we’d suggest sampling. ‘Fresh Tofu’, for example, has an interesting smoky kick and is topped by a crunchy pumpkin seed cracker. But ‘Black Rice Vinegar’ is our favorite: more accessible than you’d think with both savory and sweet hits not unlike a salted caramel. A fun and defiantly local taste experience.

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Shanghai’s Michelin Starred Restaurants: The Bespoke Verdict

Michelin rolled into Shanghai back in September, sprinkling the city’s dining establishments with stars and kicking up controversy in the process. While many heavy hitters such as Ultraviolent and Otto e Mezzo Bombana picked up well-deserved stars, others were awarded to utterly obscure places or mediocre mall-based dim sum spots. Social media buzzed with rage.  What that devil was going on? Had Michelin’s inspectors unearthed culinary treasures that lay hidden from us all these years? Or had the brand lost its touch – or worse? Bespoke sent in a crack team of foodies and journalists to investigate. Yes, yes it’s a tough job but…

 Canton 8 (2 Michelin Stars)

Canton 8 Michelin Star Mysery

Need to Know: Low key, midrange Cantonese restaurant on the fringes of downtown.
Michelin Says:  “The experienced owner of this popular local restaurant aims to provide quality dim sum and Cantonese cuisine at affordable prices. The cheapest 2 Michelin Star restaurant in the world.”
Bespoke Says: Seriously tasty! Most of the dishes here were winners. We especially loved the crispy changfen stuffed with youtiao and shrimp and the beautifully fresh char siu bao. A tasty take on Sweet and Sour Pork saw the usual pineapple switched out with strawberries and longan. Coming in at around 150RMB per person, Canton 8 offers great bang for your buck, but those 2 Michelin Stars weigh heavily on expectations. While we’ll definitely be back soon, it’s hard to see how a place like this deserves the same number of stars as the epic dining experience at Ultraviolet. Bespoke’s top tip? Go during weekday lunch to avoid the lines. The owner hasn’t answered the restaurant’s phone since the Michelin story broke…

 Sir Elly’s (1 Michelin Star)

Sir Elly's Peninsula Michelin Star

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