I've visited Nanluoguxiang a number of times across recent years and watched it become increasingly developed and popular. I've been there twice in the last week and, despite the throng, have still really enjoyed it. Indeed watching the Chinese having a good time has added to the enjoyment.
Tacky merchandise mixes with really quite interesting and individual shops. There has been an explosion of small food outlets of all sorts but, despite one reviewer's comment, you can still find
restaurants delivering very acceptable food. One such was Austen, a tiny spot in Xiao ju er hutong, a side street off the main area towards the end, where I had wonderful genuine Italian food, cooked by a young chef who'd trained under an Italian chef in a Michelin starred kitchen. Well worth seeking out.
I was back with friends in Nanluoguxiang yesterday evening and found it even more enjoyable then. It was quieter and more colourful with additional stalls set up all along the street. My companions were Chinese and we found a splendid Chinese restaurant in Ju er hutong, 200 hundred yards in on the left where I'd very happily eat again.
The whole area has traditional Beijing architecture and is a welcome change from so much of the city.
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