Hutong originates from the word hotdog which translates to a well in Mongolian. The word comes from the fact that people used to in ancient days build a well and live around it. Today’s hutongs are formed by buildings lined up on either side, making a narrow lane or alleyway in the middle. Initially hutongs were 9 meters in breadth but today they can be a tight squeeze at 40 centimetres or slightly more comfortable at 10 metres. They are characterised by an intricate network of twists and turns which to a newcomer does possess the danger of becoming lost.

Hutongs are rich with history. They were residences of famous people especially in the art circle. Writers, poets, painters; they all lived in this maze, breathing in the rich cultural diversity that comes from a place so crowded. In fact for some hutongs is an encyclopaedia of Beijing.

A normal greeting when you bump in to someone at a hutong is Ni chi le ma? Meaning have you eaten? Spreading their aroma and authentic flavours in these labyrinths are an endless dish of dishes, some that are part of a fast disappearing culinary heritage. What it offers is a one stop spot for anyone who wants to experience and appreciate the varying cuisines of China without having to wander.

Yangrou chuanr can trace its origins to Xinjiang. These mutton kebabs smothered in cumin are extremely popular and so are roujiamo. Sort of like a Chinese version of hamburger, it is pita bread stuffed with delicious combination of shredded pork, cucumber and spicy chilli sauce. Singing praises of the Sichuan region is spicy hotpot malatang. A mix of this and that, the boiling red broth can include anything and everything both vegetarian and non-vegetarian alike.

Beijing has many hutongs and to explore them all you need to find is a good choice of accommodation here. Serviced apartments Beijing is a good choice as you can go out for your meals unlike hotels that serve food as part of the deal. However that doesn’t mean you compromise on comfort. There are plenty of luxury apartment in Beijing to choose from. One of the most popular is Somerset Grand Fortune Garden Beijing.