Beijing is the Chinese-food melting pot – as the capital of the country, you can find everything from Xinjiang chuan’r
to Cantonese fish maw soup on the same street – so picking the best venue for an inexpensive gourmet night out is no small feat.
Perhaps it’s fitting that the best is so hard to find: its door is unmarked, but Dianke Dianlai’s courtyard setting hosts shining-star Yunnanese cuisine that impresses us with every successive visit. Its no-menu concept – courses are improvised on the day, depending on what ingredients are available – keeps the meals fresh and authentic.
The set menus include an eye-popping bounty of nuanced, intricate dishes at a value rarely seen elsewhere. There’s nothing more we can ask from Dianke Dianlai: its colourful – but serenely dreamlike – courtyard environment provides the perfect surroundings for outstanding cuisine that dazzles the senses. The name of the restaurant comes from a Yunnanese phrase meaning ‘to come and go’; we certainly find ourselves coming back time and time again.