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27 Dashibei Hutong
It could be said that 4corners hides multiple personalities within its warren of rooms. But, when taken as a whole, its bar, restaurant, music and courtyard space combine to form an amiable hangout.

For a while in 2014, it looked like 4corners would have to close down. In the end, they abandoned half the space (the venue had two landlords; one for the front of the property, one for the back) and redesigned the front part to accommodate its new, smaller size.

It’s now hipper than ever, with a streamlined space that better manages the surging crowds. They’ve added a traditional-looking courtyard bar that pours innovative cocktails (around 70RMB) and Jing A beer. The stage for live music has been moved into the restaurant.

The kitchen’s also had a revamp, paring down the menu to focus more on healthy options. Ever since noticing his own gluten intolerance, head chef Trinh started introducing pizzas, pastas and other goods using chickpea, rice and sorghum flour he mills himself. Perhaps the centrepiece is the light, crispy flatbread pizzas (50RMB), which have nary a hint of grease. Thankfully, the less healthy, but downright delicious, favourites like pho and the cream-cheese-topped carrot cake have also made a comeback.

The 4corners' reboot has turned it into the restaurant it always had the potential to be.

By Sean Silbert
Venue name: 4corners
Opening hours: Midday-late Tue-Sun.
English address: 27 Dashibei Hutong, (off Gulouxidajie), Xicheng district
Chinese address: 西城区大石碑胡同27号
  • 4 out of 5 stars