Food plays an important role in China and visitors don’t have to look far for a restaurant where they can eat the famous Peking duck or more exotic foods such as roasted pork foot or duck tongue.
Beijing’s international restaurant scene has developed enormously in recent years and there are numerous new restaurants. The quality of the food varies, however, and you should always visit several restaurants before making your choice.
The following restaurants are divided into three categories:
Expensive (over ¥ 300),
moderate (100 to 300 ¥),
inexpensive (up to 100 ¥).
It is the average price for a three-course meal for one person and a bottle of house wine or a comparable drink, with taxes, but without tip. The latter is only common in the most distinguished restaurants.
In simple restaurants, there is often no wine, only beer and Chinese spirits.
Li Jia Cai
A jewel of imperial cuisine. This small but exclusive restaurant on Lake Houhai offers multi-course menus, the quality of which is in no way inferior to the price.
All dishes have historical backgrounds. The owner’s grandfather worked in the emperor’s kitchens and smuggled the recipes that are still used today in the Li Jia Cai from the palace. Reservation essential.
Address: Xicheng District, Beijing
Phone: (10) 66 18 01 07.
An extremely elegant and chic Japanese restaurant, the clientele of which is a mixture of successful business people and well-heeled, fashion-conscious under-thirty-year-olds.
The specialties of the house, sushi and juicy, home-baked rolls, are fresh and are artistically presented. The service is very attentive.
Address: Chaoyang, Beijing
Telephone: (10) 65 81 39 39.
The Michelin-starred New York chef Daniel Boulud opened his first Asian restaurant in Beijing in 2008.
It is located in the classicist building of the former US embassy, a wonderful place with high ceilings and artistic frescoes, huge windows with silk curtains and splendid dining rooms.
The best French cuisine from Beijing is served. The wine list and service are exemplary.
Telephone: (010) 65 59 92 00.
Red Capital Club
If you invite visitors to the Red Capital Club, you will definitely impress them. This is a magnificent old residence, decorated with a wondrous collection of communist-era items, from Mao’s armchair to Zhou En Lais radio. The dishes are similar to those served in Zhongnanhai, the building of the communist leadership. The imperial dishes fit perfectly into the unique setting.
Address: Dongcheng District, Dongsi N St & Dongsi 9th Alley, Beijing
Phone: (10) 84 01 61 52.
In this restaurant, whose name means “Courtyard of the Phoenix”, a courtyard of the Ming Dynasty has been recreated. Gray brick walls, antique furniture and an ornate wooden entrance door like in a Chinese temple create an atmospheric backdrop.
The house specialties are Cantonese dishes and dim sum as well as the famous Peking duck.
Several private dining rooms are suitable for business lunches.
Address: Jinyu Hutong, Beijing
Telephone: (010) 65 10 67 07.
This charming restaurant is located in the trendy Drum Tower district, on a side street of Gulou Dongdajie. Authentic dishes from the southeast of Yunnan Province are on the menu.
Fresh vegetables and herbs from the high mountain region give the dishes a sweet, aromatic note.
In summer, the leafy garden terrace surrounded by trees is one of the most romantic places for a nice meal in all of Beijing.
Address: Xiaojingchang Hutong, Beijing
Telephone: (010) 84 04 14 30.
Donghuamen Night Market
A hot treat for everyone who likes to eat on the street. This clean, inexpensive and popular nightly market – including the red lanterns – attracts large numbers of visitors every day along its 200 meters in length.
You can eat through over 100 regional dishes and desserts, but the most popular is meat, vegetables, fish and even silkworms roasted on small skewers. These delicacies are served with pancakes, dumplings, stews and sauces for dipping.
Even if you’re not hungry, you shouldn’t miss the atmosphere.
Address: Dongcheng District, Beijing
This restaurant is the best in Beijing for da pan ji (literally: big plate of chicken), a delicious specialty of the Muslim-influenced western province of Xinjiang.
Da pan ji, which is enough for four people, consists of a cut chicken that is cooked with potatoes, peppers, chillies and all kinds of herbs and spices and served on pasta. It is best to eat naan bread ( kao nang ). The lamb skewers ( yang rou chuan ) are a delicious side dish.
The menu is not available in English.
Address: 11 Gulou Dong Dajie, Beijing
Xiong Di Chuan Cai
Xiong Di Chuan Cai specializes in Sichuan cuisine, a province in southwestern China that is famous for its spicy dishes.
And even though the spiciness of most of the dishes really gets into the nose, there are enough mild versions that even more sensitive palates can dare to touch.
Ordering is relatively easy with the photo menu and passable English translations. Dishes not to be missed are kung pao chicken (spicy, with peanuts), bian beans (dry roasted, spicy runner beans) and hot Indian mustard in soy sauce.
Address: 121 Gulou Dong Dajie, Beijing
Telephone: (010) 64 05 66 81.
The elegant design and architectural ambience of this Taiwanese noodle restaurant do not suggest low prices. But the delicious home cooking is just that, very inexpensive.
The guests move together at a long table and take a hearty bowl of noodle soup. If you don’t want to stay long, you’ve come to the right place.
Address: 291 Fuming Lu (Puxi), Shanghai
Telephone: (021) 61 70 12 99.