This afternoon my friend who recently moved back to Beijing took me to see her new place -- in a hutong near Nanluoguxiang, near Hou Hai.
She had looked at many apartments but soon fell in love with the idea of living in a hutong and eventually found one.
It's located off the street crossing two courtyards and then up to the third floor which she shares with another unit.
Inside it seems cramped with two rooms, as well as a kitchen and bathroom. She recently scrubbed the bathroom clean and now her next project is tackling the kitchen which is a bit of a mess.
But that's not all. There's also a balcony area perfect for a small barbecue or setting up a hammock and lazily watching the day go by.
And then she led me up a ladder that led to a giant attic complete with a giant bed and closets. I asked her how all this furniture got up there considering the space where the ladder is just big enough for a person to get up.
She explained the roof wasn't completed and they put the furniture in there first before enclosing it. The wall is part concrete, part aluminum siding, and the roof is aluminum siding. It'll be interesting to find out how noisy it will be when it rains.
But the view from this room is great, overlooking the traditional Chinese roof houses.
We then went for dinner at the Luogu Drum & Gong Fusion Restaurant on Nanluoguxiang street.
My friend says this place is busy at all times of the day and it's not too hard to see why. We arrived after 6pm and already the cosy restaurant was full and we were directed to go upstairs on the roof. We sat near a gas lamp heater which kept us relatively warm.
We ordered morning glory with vermicelli which was a cold dish and slightly tart from the vinegar sauce. The Kung Pao chicken was also delicious, the cubes of chicken very tender and flavoured with dried chillis, small black Sichuan peppercorns, leeks and roasted peanuts.
The pork dumplings dipped in a garlic and dark vinegar hit the spot and at 8RMB a bowl, they were a really good deal. Finally for dessert, we tackled pieces of banana covered in caramelized sugar. The sweet and hard coating was thin and crunchy, the banana warm and soft.
By the time we finished eating dinner, the rooftop was full of customers. Including two beers and a soft drink, our bill came to 80 RMB (US$11.25).
This place will be the perfect spot come summer.
Luogu Drum & Gong Fusion Restaurant