Huguosi snack shops are very traditional, very old-school bakeries and restaurants run by Hui Muslims. The shops’ namesake, Huguosi or “Protect the Nation Temple,” was once located on the west side of Xicheng district. Sadly, the temple was mostly knocked down in the 50s, but the little traditional snack shops on the same street (Huguosi Xiaochi Dian, or 护国寺小吃店) are still going strong and now have plenty of locations throughout the district.

These foods may be traditional, but they are popular. I hardly ever walk by the shop near Beijing Normal University without seeing a lineup of people stocking up on various red-bean-stuffed goods.

I really like the savory mahua 麻花, dough strands which bake up very hard and crunchy. It offers a salty, crispy, sesame-y bite.

Date bread is terrific, heavy and soft, with the date flavour permeating the dough. It’s more like a cake than a bread.

I also love the coconut-covered, red-bean filled pastries (just look for the coconut, they’re not hard to spot). But really the best thing to do here is point that everything that looks good and taste for yourself!

Huguosi Xiaochi Dian/护国寺小吃店

Google Map of locations throughout the city (concentrated in Xicheng district).

Also see this longer and more detailed post by Beijing Haochi on the actual meals you can eat at the largest “snack shop” on Huguosi street itself.