I went to the Backyard (后院) for dinner this evening. It's an unconventioanl courtyard house deep in Beijing's hutong, catty corner from the Houhai Lotus Market, 30 meters west of Beihai Kindergarten. Address: No. 5, Lane 3, Gongjian Hutong. I ordered fish cooked in three different ways--stir-fried fish fillet with ginger, braised fish with chilis and anise star, and milky fish broth with bean curd. The 'Backyard salad,' consisting of diced cucumber, cubes of braised beef and red onion in sweet, tangy and slightly spicy dressing, is beautiful. Stir-fried bean curd with shrimp paste sounds awful but it tastes better than it sounds. The bill came to less than 200 yuan and the food was enough to feed five to six people.
Stop by at Tarot Cafe for a nice cup of Royal coffee or cherry tea with a slice of cheese cake. Tarot Cafe is located right next door from the Gongjian Hutong or right next to Rechang Cantonese Restaurant. The big street in front is Di'anmen Xi Dajie.