While you're wondering why all new restaurants in Sanlitun are Western-style, a new Beijing restaurant opened slightly down the road at Dongzhimen, with a name that couldn't be more local even if they tried: 懂事儿 (dǒng shì’ér), a phase frequently used by parents to praise their kids when they're not being thoughtless.

The restaurant is decorated with old furniture and each room is named after an old time hutong. When you're sitting in your room, which is filled with an old TV, old paintings and curtains, a fan, and you're watching people walk down the alley, it actually feels like you've gone back in time, sitting in your hutong home, eating and talking with your friends and family.

We went for the most basic dishes, the lettuce which came in a lovely twisted shape and tasted refreshing; fried pork tenderloin (辣爆里脊筋儿, RMB 39), which looked like kung pao chicken, but was more chewy, less sweet, and just a tad spicy.

We highly recommend the desserts here, such as pea puree cake (RMB16, 豌豆糕, wān dòu gāo) which is a traditional local dessert consisting of pea puree mixed with preserved fruits, covered with a layer of sliced persimmon cake (柿子饼, shì zi bǐng). This is the best I’ve ever had in Beijing.

We also loved the rose cakes (RMB 19, 玫瑰饼, méi guī bǐng), served with a fake RMB 100 note which is made of rice and is edible. Stuffed with roses from Miaofeng Mountain which were very sweet, and full of rose flavors. We ate them with a bottle of cold Arctic Ocean (北冰洋, běi bīng yang), the famous Beijing version of Fanta.

Third floor is for local cross-talk (相声, xiàng sheng), a popular type of Chinese comedy. Tickets for shows range between RMB 80 and 120 (time to practice your Chinese!). Unfortunately, there’s no English on the menu, but their ordering tablet shows all the pictures, and you can tap on the picture and put through the order. They also provide Peking roast duck, and a lot of local food which makes a great alternative if you're squeamish about street food.

11 Chaci Unit, Dongwai Xiejie, Dongcheng District (8446 2006)
懂事儿: 东城区东直门外斜街察慈小区11号楼

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Photos: Tracy Wang

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