Hidden Hutongs: Dashilar

Dashilar, where old-school meets up and coming

All photos: Annabelle Lim
The history of Dashilar dates back centuries. Just south of Tiananmen Square, the Dashilar area is a commercial market with over 600 years of operation. Modern day Dashilar is a commercial street boasting several of China’s time honoured brands (老字号), prominent in China and abroad.

Amongst them is Chinese traditional medicine pharmacy, Tongrentang Traditional Medicine. With a history spanning 350 years, these guys have been making pills, powders and ointments from herbs and other natural ingredients since 1669. In 1723, Tonrentang became the official pharmaceutical service for the Qing dynasty palace.

Tongrentang-1
Photo: Tongrentang

Dashilar has become the intersection of the past and the present. The Dashilar we know today is still reminiscent of its historical status as a wealthy and grand metropolis all thanks to a 2011 redevelopment strategy launched to revitalise one of Beijing’s most original historical quarters. The result of that is a modern-day Dashilar made up of a cluster of old Beijing signatures standing alongside chic modern day coffee and boutique stores.

Hutongs-3
Photo: Yangmeizhuxie Jie

There’s much to see at one of the oldest hutongs in Beijing. From iconic sites to shopping exclusives, this is a comprehensive list of everything to look out for when you’re strolling through the area.

For the caffeine addicts:

Berry Beans

Berry Beans

Berry Beans is a modern and charming coffee house tucked away in the ‘eight great hutongs’ in Dashilar. Housed in a former brothel, Berry Beans serves up a decent cup of coffee, including some of their famed home-brewed beers. There’s also multiple seating options to choose from, nestle inside a glass room equipped with comfortable plush seating and air conditioning, or bask out in the sunshine in the outdoor courtyard. But the best seats is perhaps the little roof terrace on the second floor, where you’ll have a view of what used to be Beijing’s red light district in the imperial era.


Address: Xicheng district, 7 Zhujia Hutong 西城区朱家胡同7号

Photo: Annabelle Lim

Soloist Coffee Co.

Soloist Coffee Co.

No stranger to the coffee scene, Soloist Coffee is one for all the coffee fanatics. Not only do they offer a wide selection of coffee drinks from their black sugar latte (50RMB) to coffee cocktails like cold brew gin and tonic (68RMB), all of which have been roasted in-house, its interior is also one to fawn over. Think vintage pews salvaged from old churches paired with vintage clocks, and knick-knacks, all set against an exposed brick wall. 


Address: Xicheng district, 39 Yangmeizhuxie Jie 西城区杨梅竹斜街39号

Photo: Annabelle Lim

For the hungry:

Nicha 尼岔

Nicha 尼岔

Stroll further along Yangmeizhuxie Jie and you’ll find a quaint looking spot serving up serving up ethnic Tujia cuisine. Nicha pays homage to the Tujia people, the ethnic community of Western Hunan in southwest China. Typical of the region, Tujia cuisine is commonly characterised by its hot and sour notes. However, Nicha serves up a combination of both spicy and non-spicy options. Their signature dishes include the Tujia style cured meat stew 土家腊味双墩 (138RMB) that combines pig’s trotters and smoked preserved meats stewed in a rich broth and the Baguoshanren potatoes 巴国山人炕小土豆 (48RMB), a typical potato dish that steams and cooks small potatoes in hot oil that’s then topped with spring onions and chillies.


Address: Xicheng district, 133 Yangmeizhuxie Jie 西城区杨梅竹斜街133号

Photo: Annabelle Lim

Suzuki Kitchen

Suzuki Kitchen

Fast becoming a Beijing staple, this branch is the newest addition to the Suzuki Kitchen empire. With decent curries, hefty rice dishes, and much more besides, this is a reliable place to fill up on some affordable Japanese nosh. Specialities include the sukiyaki (65RMB), kaarage (48RMB) and Japanese curry with hamburg steak (50RMB). 


Name: Suzuki Kitchen
Address: Xicheng district, 10-14 Yangmeizhuxe Jie 西城区大栅栏杨梅竹斜街14-10

Photo: Annabelle Lim

For the souvenirs:

Beijing Postcards

Beijing Postcards

Dedicated to Beijing history, Beijing Postcards utilises its own historical research and its huge collection of historical photographs, maps and prints to help people relate to the city. Besides A5 postcards that lend the name, they also sell larger prints, calendars and antique map prints (with frames available ) of some of the most fantastic images. Many of which are also available via their WeChat store (ID: BeijingPostcards).


Address: Xicheng district, 97 Yangmeizhuxie Jie 西城区杨梅竹斜街97号

Photo: Annabelle Lim

Caicifang 采瓷坊

Caicifang 采瓷坊

Fast becoming a hotspot for porcelain connoisseurs, Caicifang gives new life to ancient porcelain by salvaging precious shards of history using contemporary designs. Since 2007, Caicifang has been collaborating with several museums producing gifts and souvenirs made from historical archives. Take home a piece of ancient Chinese history with porcelain shards that have been repurposed into magnets, and other jewellery.


Address: Xicheng district, 35 Yangmeizhuxie Jie 西城区杨梅竹斜街35号西

Photo: Annabelle Lim

O3 Design Studio

O3 Design Studio

Not sure what to bring back to commemorate your time in the Far East? These intricately detailed paper cut maps by O3 Design Studio are the perfect gift, or souvenir for anybody who’s spent time here. Set up by two graphic designers from Beijing, O3 Design Studio’s first product was a paper cut map of Beijing, which was largely inspired by their enthusiasm for city maps and natural materials like wood and paper. Available both framed and unframed, and in an assortment of colours and sizes, these paper maps have become widely popular as decorative pieces for homes.  


Address: Xicheng district, 92 Yangmeizhuxie Jie 西城区杨梅竹斜街92号

Photo: Annabelle Lim

For the vintage and craft seekers:

Lao Beijing Tuerye 老北京兔儿爷

Lao Beijing Tuerye 老北京兔儿爷

The tuerye (or Rabbit God), is a deity of Chinese folk religion unique to Beijing. Considered the moon rabbit of the Goddess Chang’e, legend has it that when an epidemic swept through the city, Chang’e sent her attendant, the white rabbit, to Earth to treat the disease. Since then, people began to make clay rabbit figurines to express gratitude for bringing peace and blessings to the world. This shop sells handcrafted tuerye, making these delicate figurines using clay and moulds, thereafter painting it in a variety of designs and colours.


Address: Xicheng district, 19 Yangmeizhuxie Jie 西城区杨梅竹斜街19号

Photo: Annabelle Lim

Liulichang Dongjie 琉璃厂东街

Liulichang Dongjie 琉璃厂东街

If you’re a fan of calligraphy, you’ll enjoy walking down Liulichang Dongjie, or what is known as the antiques and stationery street. It is home to hundreds of antique stores all filled with Chinese handicrafts, artistry, ancient books and calligraphy, including the ‘scholar’s four jewels’, writing brushes, ink sticks, ink slabs and paper. Located in Beijing’s traditional old quarters, this street still retains most of its elegance and glamour from the old days.  


Address: Xicheng district, Liulichang Dong Jie, 西城区琉璃厂东街

Photo: Annabelle Lim

Rongdexuan 荣德轩

Rongdexuan 荣德轩

Everything from old radios and revolutionary memorabilia to a handmade, glittery, cross-stitch portrait of Chairman Mao can be found in Rongdexuan, a twee little antiques shop run by an elderly Chinese couple. It’s a fantastic place to browse, full of ’70s-era graphic novels, porcelain figurines of the proletariat, and hundreds of other things you had no idea you wanted until you found them but now you just have to have! Come to think of it, if the Mao cross-stitch is still there on our next trip, we’re taking it.


Address: Xicheng district, 45 Yangmeizhuxie Jie 西城区杨梅竹斜街45号

Zahuopu 杂货铺

Zahuopu 杂货铺

This nameless vintage general store is so general it doesn’t even have a name, nor can you find this hidden gem on Dianping. It sells everything from plastic fans and plushies to scholarly Chinese books and old Chinese vases. Its decades of history crammed within a tight vertical space, full of charm and stocked full of whimsical artefacts. Search hard enough and you might just find the perfect ornament to complete your vintage home interior. 


Name: Zahuopu 杂货铺
Address: Somewhere along Yangmeizhuxie Jie 杨梅竹斜街

Photo: Annabelle Lim

For the fashionistas:

Juejiang Spectacle Shop 倔匠眼镜

Juejiang Spectacle Shop 倔匠眼镜

Head up Juejiang spectacle shop if you’re looking for a trendy pair of frames to jazz up your look. Have fun trying on the various frames available, most of which have been imported directly from Japan, for a fashion-forward look.


Address: Xicheng district, 23 Yangmeizhuxie Jie 西城区杨梅竹斜街23号

Photo: Annabelle Lim

Suzuki Shop

Suzuki Shop

The retail branch of Suzuki Kitchen, Suzuki Shop keeps true to the Japanese aesthetic, housing a list of Japanese style clothing, accessories and ceramics. It’s wooden interiors and tasteful products makes this boutique shop a place for all your aesthetic inspirations.


Address: Xicheng district, 10-14 Yangmeizhuxie Jie 西城区杨梅竹斜街10-14号

Photo: Annabelle Lim

For the bookworms:

Mofan Bookstore 模范书局

Mofan Bookstore 模范书局

Hide out in Mofan Bookstore when it gets too hot outside, or when you just want to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city. Housing an impressive collection of Chinese literature and texts, Mofan Bookstore is the place to be to get your fix of China’s literary scene.  


Address: Xicheng district, 31 Yangmeizhuxie Jie 西城区杨梅竹斜街31号

Photo: Annabelle Lim

Twelve Moons

Twelve Moons

Twelve Moons sells pretty much everything made from pulped trees. Artisan notebooks, sketchbooks, calendars and greeting cards are just one of the few things Twelve Moons has in store. They also use ethically sourced materials, so you can rest easy that you’re doing your bit for mother nature.


Address: Xicheng district, 27 Yangmeizhuxie Jie 西城区杨梅竹斜街27号

Photo: Annabelle Lim

To see:

Baihua Yuan 百花园

Baihua Yuan 百花园

A spacious slice of respite, Baihua Yuan is now a popular spot for the elderly and young alike. Previously a messy vegetable market, the Xicheng district government dismantled the original market in 2015 and in its place, built a community space where residents can gather. Nestled in the middle of the hutongs, Baihua Yuan has now become the go-to leisure spot for the local community.


Name: Baihua Yuan 百花园
Address: Xicheng district, at the intersection of Yingtaoxie Jie and Yingtao Hutong 西城区樱桃斜街与樱桃胡同交叉口

Photo: Annabelle Lim

Central China Securities Exchange Site  中原证券交易所旧址

Central China Securities Exchange Site 中原证券交易所旧址

Established in 1918, this site was also known as the very first securities exchange run by the Chinese. The first floor is the business hall; divided in the middle with all five rooms open. The second floor was where the main gallery used to be. Despite being almost a century old, there's still much to be marvelled architecturally in this two-story building that appears on the verge of crumbling. It combines features of Western architectural styles popular back in the day, whilst still maintaining Chinese styles in its interior building configurations. The exchange was sadly closed in 1948, and has since been used as local housing.


Name: Central China Securities Exchange Site  中原证券交易所旧址
Address: Xicheng district, 196 Xiheyan Jie 西城区西河沿街的196号

Photo: Annabelle Lim

Zhengyici Beijing Opera Theatre 正已祠

Zhengyici Beijing Opera Theatre 正已祠

Built in the 51st year of the reign of the Kangsi Emperor by Zhejiang merchants that lived in Beijing, Zhengyici remains the only preserved, plain wooden opera theatre in Beijing and could be considered a milestone in the history of opera theatre development in China. 


Name: Zhengyici Beijing Opera Theatre 正已祠
Address: Xicheng district, 220 Xiheyan Jie 西城区西河沿街220号

Photo: Annabelle Lim

  • 4 out of 5 stars
submit