Beijing is a food connoisseur's paradise, offering an array of Chinese and Western cuisines guaranteed to please the palate. The city's major restaurants are in the hands of famous chefs with creative techniques, and the dining environment is elegant and cozy. Ordinary restaurants in the streets are cheap, practical; and offer a unique Chinese ambiance. Generally speaking, meals in the major hotels and fine dining restaurants are more expensive than meals in local restaurants. Credit cards and checks are accepted in most hotels and restaurants, but there will be an additional 10-15% service charge. Below is an introduction to some of the different cuisines available in Beijing.
Beijing is famous for its Peking Duck, and so a Peking Duck dinner should be a fixed itinerary on any Beijing tour. With hundreds of restaurants offering this specialty, Quanjude Peking Duck Restaurant is the recognized leader for serving the best Peking Duck around town. With over 130 years of history, there are now branch restaurants in Qianmen, Hepingmen and Wangfujing. But one of the best places we've found for Peking Duck is Da Dong Kao Ya.
Peking ducks are marinated with a secret sauce recipe and then roasted directly over fruittree wood stoked flames. When roasted to perfection, the ducks are date-red in color, lightly glazed with oil and have crispy skin and are tender with meat. The chef then shaves the meat into thin slices with skin attached. The meat is served with Chinese onions, special sweet sauce and wrapped by a very thin pancake.
Quan Ju De Roast Duck Restaurant (Qianmen Branch)
Beijing has been the Capital of the Liao (907-1125), Jin (1115-1234), Yuan (1206-1368), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties. Because of its rich cultural history, Imperial Food, or a special a style of Chinese food originating from the Imperial Palace was formed. In bygone days these dishes were exquisitely made with choice ingredients and were prepared in the imperial palace kitchen for the exclusive delight of the emperor. Today, Fangshan Restaurant in Beihai Park, Tingliguan Restaurant in the Summer Palace, and Dashanyuan Restaurant near Palace Museum, have made these once secret dishes available to the public.
Hotpot is very popular among Beijingers, especially during winter season. The concept is for you to cook your food at your table in a big pot full of soup that sits over a burner. Customers choose from a wide selection of thinly sliced fresh raw meats and vegetables (including tofu, Chinese cabbage and bean sprouts). Noodles and seasonings are served, and the Hotpot experience begins. Items are picked up and immersed in boiling soup until it is cooked. When removed, meats and vegetables are ready to eat and can be dipped in peanut, soy, sesame, and chili sauces.
There are basically two kinds of Hotpot restaurants in Beijing: Mongolian and Sichuan style. Sichuan hotpot has a soup base, which can be described as either super spicy or mildly radioactive. But for those sensitive to spicy food, there is no need to worry because often the pot is divided in half: one side spicy soup, the other half for non-spicy soup. The soup base for Mongolian style is not spicy, and usually consists of some vegetables and seafood. Recently there has been an explosion of buffet-style hotpot restaurants. Generally you pay a set price (often around RMB 38) for an "all you can eat" meal, including beer.
Neng Ren Ju Restaurant
There are a good variety of traditional local snacks and refreshments in Beijing. These include almond junket, milk curd, tiny corn buns, porridge with lotus seeds, cakes stuffed with minced meat are baked in a clay oven,, fermented soy bean milk, sausages, odd-odor bean curd, sesame seed-speckled cakes, sweet sour plum juice and more.
The best snacks are found at night fairs, where traditional lanterns add a folkloric aura to scene. Beijing's open-air night snack markets are open all year round. For a taste of snack foods, go to Snack Street, near Wangfujing Street or Donghuamen near the Palace Hotel. From about 5:00 pm, vendors lined up in their stalls start selling foods from all parts of the country. You can have an entire meal's worth of food walking from one end of the street to the other, sampling various delicacies along the way. These markets provide real life accounts of how the Chinese enjoy their evenings.
Tan Gen Yuan Restaurant (a cultural restaurant)
Apart from the thousands of restaurants serving Chinese dishes, Beijing's gourmet scene is also filled with restaurants serving Italian, French, American, Russian, Japanese, Thai, Indonesian, Korean and other foreign cuisine. Fast food outlets such as McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut and the likes are spotted throughout the city.
Chaoyang Street and Sanlitun Bar Street offer the most bars and cafes. These places are decorated with a western atmosphere, enabling foreigners to feel more at home. These are good places for those wishing to relax by sipping a cup of coffee or sampling some vintage brews.
Drinking alcohol is a big part of Beijing entertainment, especially when dining with Chinese hosts. The Chinese likes to drink beer and BaiJiu (Chinese white wine) made from assorted grains. There are varying degrees of Bai Jiu. The Beijing favorite is called Er Guo Tou, which contains 56% alcohol, and costs about RMB 5 per bottle. Wuliangye and Maotai, going for about RMB 300-400 RMB per bottle is less alcohol intensive. Non-drinkers or those who don't feel up to the challenge can politely decline by saying they don't drink. It is generally acceptable to use soda or tea as an alcohol substitute.
Traditionally speaking, there are some taboos surrounding Chinese Table Manners. Some things to keep in mind include:
Not all the tap water in China is potable, but bottled mineral water is on sale everywhere.
NOTE: Although this information is correct at the time of our web publication, it is still advised that you call the phone number and confirm the address before going to the venue because some venues may have changed their telephone numbers or address locations.