There is a lot to like about The Brown Door (Chinese name: Quan Xing Ju), a small, family style restaurant located across the street from Beijing’s Pearl Market and the Temple of Heaven. Their formula of simple decor and menu coupled with casual Western ambience has led to this restaurant being a “must try” after a day of shopping.
The menu draws from all the Chinese regions and cooking styles. Amongst the classics sure to appeal to Western tastes are spicy green beans, cold cucumbers, a tower of fried shoe string potatoes, orange glazed fish, cashew chicken, broccoli with garlic, stir fried beef, and kung pao chicken. The real stand out is the sweet and sour pork. The Brown Door is one of only two restaurants in Beijing I’ve found (the other being popular chain Xiang Man Lou) to cook sweet and sour pork with pineapple the proper way. I dined with a friend from Dongbei – the ancestral home of sweet and sour pork with pineapple – who confirmed, “This restaurant makes it right!”
The wait staff at The Brown Door is warm and welcoming. On the night we dined we watched one of the waitresses wash her hair in a ceramic basin near the front of the restaurant. Hence, the restaurant even offers entertainment!
Summary: A well-known restaurant with flight attendants and other frequent travelers to Beijing. Small and hospitable, it may be one of the few “local” restaurants that tourists without Mandarin ability will feel comfortable in. The picture menu interprets some Chinese classics and adds dishes with other Asian influences. Reasonably priced. Lighthearted atmosphere. The clientele tends to be primarily Western tourists, but is authentic for locals. Can be noisy at lunch time.
Price: A meal for two should run less than 200RMB.
Hours: 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. every day.
Address: 99 Dongdajie, north from the Pearl Market (Hong Qiao Shichang)