Eastsiders and non-hutong dwellers rejoice. You no longer need to head to Andingmen to get your Zhang Mama fix. The deservedly popular Sichuan restaurant has opened a third location just south of Jintai Lu subway station.

The spice-laden dishes that elevated the original branch to legendary status have made the journey east unadulterated.The signature Zhang Mama xiaochao (RMB 20), tender chunks of pork stir fried with not one, not two, but three types of chilies, remains our favorite dish, spicy but without unnecessary blow-your-head-off bravado. The dandan noodles (RMB 12), on the other hand, their violent red chili oil hidden beneath an unassuming tangle of noodles will have you reaching for a portion of cooling bingfen (RMB 8), a traditional Sichuan dessert of clear jelly (made with the seeds of the Apple of Peru plant, a type of nightshade) topped with iced brown sugar syrup.

Perhaps Zhang Mama has lost some of its original charm with this move to a more metropolitan location how many of us have “complained” about the long wait for a table at the Fensiting Hutong location, only to enjoy the hutong atmosphere while we stand around with a beer? However, with good, clean food at very low prices, we doubt that this will deter the crowds. 

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Photos: Robynne Tindall

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