Trying to replace favorite hole in the wall sichuan in Chaoyang area, Beijing
I've been to Beijing a few times over the past couple of years and some of my favourite restaurants were in the Lido Hotel area of Chaoyang, near the night market. I have always loved the Red Door and Sichuan (about 4 doors apart from each other), but a friend who went last month said that because the airline crews aren't staying in that vicinity anymore, the restaurants have really gone downhill and aren't nearly as good. I'm looking for good basic spicy food (chicken with chili and peanuts, spicy eggplant etc.) and I prefer the little hole in the wall places to eating in hotels or high end restaurants. Any suggestions?
I don't spend that much time out in Lido except for one of the bars, and while I know some of the flight crews are staying in the city, it seems that many are still in the Lido area. The dishes you are describing sound pretty basic, most hole in the walls will be able to cook up a decent kungpao chicken (ie chicken with chili and peanuts) for you. I don't have any specifc recommendations in that area, but I'd figure most spots you'd stumble into would be pretty good. If you're looking for spicy food anywhere in the city, Chuan Ban, Ba Guo Bu Yi, and even Mala Youhuo would all be worth checking out and in some cases easy to find around the city.
We were there recently and hit up Chuan Ban and Ba Guo Bu Yi, neither of which are in Chaoyang nor hole in the walls, but along those lines (and not too far from Chaoyang) our favorite meal (not just Sichuan, but of the whole trip) was Fei Teng Yu Xiang. Much better than the previous two mentioned. I think that have another branch, but we were at the one just blocks from Dong si Shitiao subway station.
actually, Ba Guo Bu Yi and Chuan Ban (the new one) are both in Chaoyang district, and the old Chuan Ban is barely outside it (just inside 2nd Ring Rd). Fei Teng Yu Xiang's a large chain and quality varies widely depending on which branch, but when they are on their game, its pretty good (though I still think it falls short of Chuan Ban, though kind of hard to defeat the Sichuanese government's restaurant in terms of quality and fresh ingredients).
I still think my original advice holds true, any small jia chang cai spots you'll find will typically have the dishes OP is looking for and often they'll do a decent job of it.