Beijing Backpacking, Day 15: Somewhere Between West and East, in the Middle of Tradition

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There is no escaping the hipster culture.

Last week I went full circle on food between Western and Chinese, in formats old and new. But even for a country like China where tradition dies hard, there is no escape from the clutch of globalisation.

Bit unlike the pure Western influence that may comes from unabashed Western cuisine in a tourist area behind a hotel, introducing new concepts deep into traditional hutong demands some form of meeting in the middle. And it’s quite the quirky fusion – inconspicuous traditional architecture on the outside, but once you enter, you’d feel like you’re in a bohemian area of New York, San Francisco or Sydney.

The menus are in English only. Contemporary art decorates the walls. The joint serves pizzas much like a trendy cafe in the West. Did I just take a portal halfway around the world?

Interestingly enough, the house cocktails provide some antidote to this. I took a “Sichuan Highway” – and when you think Sichuan, there is the ubiquitous spice. And there is no effort at subtlety here – the cocktail has a red pepper in its natural state.

But this place is quite unassuming – just like most hutong, it’s secluded inside an alley well off the main road. There seems to be no escaping globalisation anywhere in Beijing. But then again, there seems to be no escaping tradition for any global cultural tenet entering Beijing either.

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