We also visited the nearby Confucius Temple which we enjoyed but if you only have time for one then the Lama Temple would be my choice. After exploring the temples we'd planned to go to a restaurant called Fairy Su which was / is located just around the corner but when we arrived it appeared to have sustained some serious fire damage.
So sad but totally unsurprising - I feel like things like this happen to me and Nick all the time on our travels! Later on in our China trip we arrived at a well reviewed vegan restaurant to find that it had shut down so recently that they were just giving away their pots, pans, and plates to passers by! I think that they were rebuilding Fairy Su so if you're passing by check it out and update Happy Cow. The closest affordable spot for a bite to eat was the 100% vegan restaurant The Veggie Table which is located down a cute street a short walk from the temple.
I wasn't super hungry and I kinda wanted to save my appetite for some Chinese food later on so I just ordered a bowl of pumpkin soup and the vegetable pate which came with pitta bread for dipping. Nick had a pesto pasta dish that looked yummy and filling. Whilst we ate we perused the guidebook and decided where to check out next.
The food here was actually really good and I think later on in the trip when I was craving more western flavours I would've appreciated it even more. It had a cosy and friendly atmosphere too which is always welcome. After a whole bunch of walking around the local area and taking a look at both the drum tower and the bell tower we decided that it was time for dinner and headed to Vegetarian Dumpling where we ordered a few dishes to share including the chive dumplings, veggie dumplings, and a gluten dish.
Most ordering in China is done by pointing at pictures on a menu. I loved this because it meant that I could get a look at the food to see if it looked super spicy before ordering. When you can't really speak the language to explain your allergies this is super useful! It also means that I don't really know the names of the dishes I ordered. As you can see the gluten really was just a huge plate of delicious gluten with a few veggies thrown in which was exactly what we wanted. We also ordered steamed rice - this isn't always on the menu so you need to either learn the word for rice or have a screen shot ready on your phone if the pronunciation is too tricky. The chunky fried chive dumplings were probably the highlight of the meal for me, I'm a huge dumping fan but in China I found that the steamed dough was often a little thick which wasn't to my taste, I'm more of a gyoza / wonton / shumai girl, but it was great to get to try a vegan versions of local dishes all the same.
The next day we headed out to the 798 Art District. We took the bus which was pretty simple thanks to Apple Maps - I'm not kidding, Apple Maps is actually useful in China! I first heard about The 798 on Emil's blog and he was totally right, it's a great place to spend the day popping into galleries, checking out the street art, and exploring the little art stores. I wont bombard you with photos but here are some of my faves.
There's one veg restaurant in the art district which wasn't our favourite ever because it had a little bit of a fancy atmosphere that didn't really fit with the vibe of the area but it was definitely the best place to grab some lunch in the 798. We had a really fun day and the whole area is well worth a visit. I think that the art changes pretty regularly too which is super cool.
After a long day of exploring a big meal was in order so we headed over to vegan spot Cloud Kitchen for burgers, pizzas, and dessert.
We ordered a little nut cheese plate to share to start off with. These little almondey bites were delicious and we devoured them and their accompanying sauces and fruits in about 10 seconds.
We also got some nuggets to share and then I ordered the burger, I can't resist a charcoal bun, and Nick got the Hawaiian pizza.
Nick's ordering was spot on here, the Hawaiian pizza was super good and my burger was a little mediocre - the chips were a little undercooked and the whole burger was kinda cold, I think the bun and the salad had maybe been refrigerated just before adding the burger patty which cooled the whole thing down pretty fast. Dessert wise Cloud Kitchen do muffins, raw desserts, and cookies and we decided to go for a chocolate muffin which was an excellent choice. We also grabbed some cookies to go for our Great Wall adventure the next day but more about that next time! I'd definitely recommend visiting CK if you get the chance, the staff were super friendly and the food was good value.
If you missed it you'll find my first post about Beijing here and next time I'll be posting about my trip to The Great Wall and my very favourite vegan spot in the city.