Zhāng Māma

Top choice sichuan in Drum Tower & Dongcheng North

The original Zhāng Māma, on nearby Fensiting Hutong, was such a hit that you had to wait up to an hour for a table. At this newer, larger branch, they've more than halved the wait, and it's worth it. This is arguably Běijīng's best-value Sìchuān restaurant.

The speciality is málà xiāngguō (麻辣香锅; ¥48 to ¥58), a fiery, chilli-laced witches brew of either chicken (香锅鸡; xiāngguō jī), prawns (香锅虾; xiāngguō xiā) or ribs (香锅排骨; xiāngguō páigǔ) with a variety of tasty vegetables added into the mix. One bowl is enough for two or three people. The twice-cooked pork (回锅肉; huíguōròu) is another highlight: smoky bacon slices with green chilli, vegies and fried dough for crunch. Also worth a try is the dàndàn miàn (担担面; spicy dry noodles; ¥8). No English menu, so don't be shy about pointing to what fellow diners are eating. Chances are it'll be spicy, but delicious.