SOUTHERN COMFORTS IN THE NORTHERN CAPITAL

Feast on authentic Yunnanese specialties inspired by the Ancient Tea Horse TrailTry traditional dishes at a no-menu restaurant celebrated by in-the-know localsFor a welcome detour, check out an impressive and historic tower built in 1272It may be walking distance from Tiananmen, but Lost Heaven transports us to China’s borders with Southeast Asia. Authentically pungent specialties of the Dai, Bai, Yi, and Miao minority groups fill the menu here, along with dishes inspired by the Ancient Tea Horse Trail that winds through Yunnan and Tibet. We prefer to come after dark, if only for cocktails made with fresh coconut shavings and chili flakes, tamarind, and palm sugar. After your Yunnanese feast, it's a mere 20-minute taxi ride back to the Conrad. Want still more spice? Follow in-the-know Beijingers to the no-menu Dali Courtyard to dine on whichever traditional dishes (lemongrass fish; seaweed infused grilled prawns) the Yunnanese chef decides to cook that evening. But leave your high heels at the hotel: your taxi will have to drop you off at the hutong and you’ll have to find your way to the restaurant yourself (look for the red lantern). If you arrive early, detour down Gulou East Street to see the imposing Drum Tower—originally built in 1272 under Kublai Khan to house musical instruments. ​Found in the very centre of Beijing, Lost Heaven is on Qianmen Dong Dajie just South of the National Museum of China. Look for two small side streets, leading off to Caochang 3rd Alley; it’s nestled roughly in the middle between them. Dali Courtyard is around a 20 minute journey away by taxi, situated in the north of Dongcheng province.LOST HEAVEN: Unit G, 23 Qianmen Dong Dajie; 86-(0)10-8516-2698; lostheaven.com.cnDALI COURTYARD: 67 Xiaojingchang Hutong, Gulou Dong Dajie; 86-(0)10-8404-1430​​DRUM TOWER: Dianmen Wai Dajie, Dongcheng