Beijing Restaurant Tips by mafi_moya
Beijing Restaurants: 675 reviews and 804 photos
Crispy duck meal
Duck is probably Beijing's most famous delicacy. The best known dish is Peking Duck, but it's served in several guises. The Chinese enjoy different parts of meat to Westerners - for example, the head of the fish and the innards of chickens are very popular. This makes it great to eat with Chinese people because everyone gets to eat the bits they want, leaving the 'leftovers' to the other person!
In the case of traditional Peking Duck, many foreigners find it very fatty and unpalatable. The tastiest option in my opinion is Crispy Aromatic Duck, best served at specialist restaurants. It's not usually a meal in itself - more of a fancy starter. The waiter slices up a cooked duck at the table and you roll it into individual pancakes, accompanied with spring onion, sliced cucumber, and a dollop of plum or, my favourite, hoi sin sauce. Without doubt, one of the best taste sensations in Beijing!
If you ever get fed up of eating locally, or simply fancy a taste of home, then there are several decent pubs/restaurants in Beijing that serve good, genuine Western food. They're relatively expensive, but friendly and a popular hangout with expats. There are a growing number but here are a few recommendations:
The John Bull near Jianguomen is a traditional English style pub, serving excellent steak and kidney pie and Tiger beer. Has a 2 for price of 1happy hour in the evenings and a free pool table. Frank's Place in Sanlitun is a more American offering (think Cheers) with great burgers and sport on the big screen. Also in Sanlitun are numerous fashionable bars serving pizzas and sandwiches and Durty Nellie's Irish bar.
Favorite Dish: The steak pies at John Bull and the huge burgers at Frank's Place are both well worth the money.
Price: less than US$10
With food like this why eat McDonalds? Why????
Call me a food snob if you want but if there's one thing I hate it's McDonalds, KFC and the rest. Not only is the food totally bland and unhealthy, but the restaurants are soulless, homogenous, plastic atrocities that are the same whether you're in America, Africa or Asia. So I was deeply shocked to see just how many of them (real and imitation) there are in Beijing. After all, when you've got one of the greatest cuisines in the world why would you want to eat a Big Mac!! Well, everybody's got their own tastes I suppose and if you're desperate for tasteless, plastic food in artificial, characterless surroundings then don't worry, you can have your fix quite easily in Beijing. There's even a Starbucks inside the Forbidden City! Sacrilege!! Now have a nice day :)
Theme: Fast Food
You'll need a nice warm hotpot after this!
Hotpots are a Winter speciality and like all good Chinese food are best eaten communally in large groups on a round revolving table. They are literally what the name implies - a cauldron of boiling hot water into which you dip platefuls of raw food. In effect it's DIY cooking - the restaurant provides the pot and ingredients and from then on it's down to you. Slivers of meat, tofu, vegetables are all dipped in the pot and cooked quickly and lightly (often for just a few seconds) and then flavoured with sesame sauce.
At distance the food stalls look perfectly normal!
You know those old stories you hear about how Chinese people eat anything and everything, from insects to bird's nests? Well, they're nearly all true! Particularly around Spring Festival time, all kinds of weird and wonderful foods emerge on pavement food stalls. The relatively tame dishes include crunchy fried caterpillar and snake. A bit weirder are baked cockroaches, cow stomach and bird embryos. Prize for the most bizarre food I encountered has to go to the huge goat's testicle, cooked and skewered whole on top of a stick. My motto used to be 'try anything once' but I changed it in Beijing!
Favorite Dish: Crunchy fried caterpillars are surprisingly tasty!
Normally I intensely dislike food courts. Sure they offer a good selection and are ideal for groups with different tastes, but the food is generally bland and the atmosphere sterile. But this place is a welcome exception. Located on the lower floor of one of Beijing's most exclusive shopping malls, the prices are hardly that of street food but are surprisingly reasonable. There is almost every type of Chinese food you could want - Sichuan, Cantonese, hotplate, dim sum, noodles and all sorts of regional specialities. The quality of the food is surprisingly good too and there is beer and fruit juice to wash it down. It's always busy (with Chinese more than foreigners) and there's a noisy, bustling atmosphere. Despite the location, staff don't speak much English, but there are examples of dishes laid out so all you have to do is point and smile. The stalls don't take cash - you have to buy a credit card from a booth outside and the value of your meal is deducted from it. You can either spend all your credit in one visit or the card can be saved for several months.
Directions: The Oriental Plaza is on the corner of Wangfujing, one of the city's main shopping streets, near Tiananmen and the Forbidden City. The food court is on the bottom floor.
Price: less than US$10
Theme: Chinese/Dim Sum
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