Rock 'n' roll joints, pool halls and the most ostentatious restaurant in the whole of Beijing make this gritty area a must-see.
Peng You Ju Jiu Wu
Opened by Chinese restaurateurs with experience of living and cooking in Japan, this restaurant serves up all kinds of solid - and cheap! - Nippon fare, including chicken, beef and pork yakitori. Better still, the bar and back rooms give it a lovely, cosy atmosphere. The budget booze - 36RMB for a bottle of plum wine - is a bonus.
Peng You Ju Jiu Wu 28 Qianliang Hutong, Dongcheng district. Open 5-11pm daily. (6405 7557). 东城区钱粮胡同28号
The doorway might be guarded by a replica of Chucky, the murderous doll from the Child's Play
series, but X405 Factory is far from scary. Indeed, this tiny, toy-filled bar is a wonderfully friendly place. Run by local hip-hop crew CMCB, it does a line in cheap beers (15RMB for a bottle of Tsingtao) and stylisg local brand merchandise.
X405 Factory 33 Qianliang Hutong, Dongcheng district. Open 3pm-2am daily. (8402 5923). 东城区钱粮胡同33号
The unassuming frontage of Treescape hides an expansive, airy and chilled cafe. Francophonic music accompanies some great food, and there are stacks of pulp thrillers and copies of National Geographic
to peruse as you eat.
Treescape 32 Qianliang Hutong, Dongcheng district. Open 1pm-9pm Tues-Fri
11am-10pm Sat-Sun. (6404 6297). 东城区钱粮胡同32号
Jinghaoxiang Pool Hall
There's no onomatopoeia quite as therapeutic or as satisfying as the donk-click-thunk
of a ball being expertly potted, but sometimes it's damn difficult to find a free pool table in the city's bars. So thank goodness for this billiards den, which hosts nine pool tables and one snooker table, and provides cues and balls for just 23RMB per person per hour.
Jinghaoxiang Pool Hall 16 Qianliang Hutong, Dongcheng district. Open 9am-2am daily. (8402 0459). 东城区钱粮胡同16号
Head through the tunnel entrance on Dafosi Dongjie and take a right at yet another of the city's bland supermarkets, and you'll find a fantastic wet market piled high with fresh fruit and vegetables. Heading a little further in, you will also see stalls sporting surprisingly good-quality meat, fish and tofu, and even bargain-priced home goods. It's an essential resource if you live in the area.
Wet Market 22 Dafosi Dongjie, Dongcheng district. Open 6am-7pm daily. 东城区大佛寺东街22号
Cheng Ger Ma Bao Du
There are tripe pickings to be had at this all-stomach restaurant. That's right: owner Cheng Ger serves an all ma bao du
(stomach) menu, with four different types to gobble up. His traditional creations have become such an underground sensation that celebrity US chef Anthony Bourdain even tracked him down for the China edition of his globe-trotting culinary television series, No Reservations
Cheng Ger Ma Bao Du 65 Daqudeng Hutong, Dongcheng district. Open 11am-2pm, 5-8pm daily. (139 0105 7351). 东城区大取灯胡同65号
Ke Ke Fu
Most restaurants hidden down obscure hutongs are strictly casual affairs, but sometimes you'll find something like this enormous, tourist-friendly, imperial-style song-and-dance extravaganza. Staff in period costume curtsy and bow as you enter, and there's a traditional dance show to enjoy at 7.15pm each day. The food's pricey - 224RMB for the cheapest meal - but the experience is memorable.
Ke Ke Fu 9 Daqudeng Hutong, Dongcheng district. Open 5.30-9.30pm daily. (6407 8006). 东城区大取灯胡同9号