Written by Naomi & Javier
One street east of Bar Street (德福巷), a short walk from your favorite bars, Near Wall and 3as4， is a little place called 东北小二 (DongBei XiaoEr).
DongBei XiaoEr is a small restaurant of, at most, a couple dozen small, stool-surrounded tables that sit two to four people. The tables are packed tight in a few tiny rooms, so you’ll get nice and cozy with your neighbors. There are no decorations or colors to mention—just white walls with a few scattered pictures of food. The decidedly not bilingual staff doesn’t bubble with enthusiasm; they’re here to sling food, not to smile and treat you like a special snowflake. That may sound harsh, but this is just a place ruled by pragmatism—if you’re here, you’re here to eat; nothing more, nothing less.
And eat we did! This restaurant specializes in food from the Northeast part of China. Overall, food from this region is quite mild compared to Shaanxi or Sichuan. In other words, it’s Westerner friendly, for the most part. The mouthwatering picture menu makes translations unnecessary—just point and say “zhege, zhege.”
DongBei food ranges from sweet to sour to spicy. From our many visits to DongBei XiaoEr we can recommend several delectable dishes. The Sweet and Sour Pork (guo1 bao1 rou4 锅包肉) is not to be missed, as the giant thumbs-up on the menu indicates. A friend who spent time in Dongbei tells us it’s a perennial foreigner favorite, but it’s very popular with the Chinese as well. You’ll see a plate of GuoBaoRou on almost every table. Thinly sliced squares of pork have been lovingly deep-fried to golden perfection and bathed in a sugary garlicky vinegary honey-colored sauce. The Baby Celery with Pork (香辣板筋) will have you wanting to pick the plate clean down to every last celery stick and black bean. Who knew celery was more than a receptacle for peanut butter and raisins? The Spicy Lotus Fries (干煸莲菜) bring a new twist to the vegetable with a hint of spiciness. Dry Pot Potatoes (干锅杏鲍菇) come piping hot in a cast iron pot with slices of smoked bacon and peppers. But don’t fill up on the main courses. After you’ve finished eating meat and veggies, order the Caramelized Sweet Potatoes (拔丝地瓜). The sweet potatoes are fried and coated in a melted sugar sauce that hardens to rock if you don’t eat it fast!
Rather than taking a train to the Northeast, go straight to South Gate and enjoy some super-delicious but reasonably-priced food and cheap beer.
PRO: Amazing food at amazing prices!
CON: Stops serving at 9:30. This place is popular so sometimes the food takes a bit.
RECOMMENDATION: Everything we just mentioned, especially Guo Bao Rou.
No.98,Da Che Jia Xiang( 大车家巷98号 )