I think I’ve walked past Shu Shijian around five hundred times; it’s very unassuming, sandwiched between a store that sells cute hairbows and a bakery that sells very unpleasant sugar-glazed hot dogs.

I didn’t pick up on the the happy little lineup before mealtimes, or the pots of various oils and spices in the windows. I think I was a little scared off by the photographs of stewed rabbit heads beside the overhead menus. It just goes to show I have a lot to learn! My lunch there today was so good I may even try the rabbit heads next time.

Shu Shijian is a 专卖部, zhuanmaibu, or a shop that sells pre-prepared foods. There’s no seating. You just pick up various meat or vegetable dishes and take them home; it’s a terrifically convenient and economical concept. I loved how sauces for each dish were freshly mixed after ordering. It was exactly what you would do at home, without the fuss of preparing the meat or noodles yourself.

My cool-jelly noodles (川北凉粉) were great, with the slippery, mild noodles playing beautifully off the dressing, which included Sichuan pepper, ground pork, sesame seeds and preserved vegetable. Meanwhile the red-oil rabbit (红油兔丁) tasted lovely, with a sweet but wickedly hot red-oil sauce. Ask for a little extra sugar.

It turns out that there’s only one Shu Shijian in all of Beijing – here’s hoping they expand. But zhuanmaibu style shops are everywhere, so keep a lookout for them, especially those that specialize in Sichuanese foods! And if you’re looking for a delicious takeaway lunch around BNU, go no further.

Shu Shijian/蜀时间

West side of Xinjiekou Waidajie (新街口外大街), just a few minutes north of Beijing Normal University’s East Gate.

(Note: BNU/北师大 has two east gates, this is the larger, main one, located right beside the LiYun dorm).

(Link to map showing the location of the East Gate; just get there and walk north on Xinjiekou).

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