Beijing is the capital of China and therefore dining out there means lots of choices and food brought from all over the country. Still, it's equally as rewarding to sample local cuisine which encapsulates northern Chinese food.
Wheat and millet were originally much more abundant than rice in this region so Beijing cuisine features more rolls and pancakes than other parts of the country. Once classed as royal cuisine, Peking duck is still a grand favourite.
Beijing is China's best city for gastronomes. No other Chinese city provides a greater variety of restaurants. Most restaurants of note, especially those that cater to foreign clientele, are located in Chaoyang, but excellent establishments exist all over the city.
|1:||Grand Continental Service Apartments|
|2:||Howard Johnson Plaza Shanghai|
|3:||Ssaw Hotel Shanghai|
|4:||Crowne Plaza Beijing Chaoyang U-Town|
|5:||Radisson Blu Hotel Beijing|
|6:||Eversunshine Hotel Shanghai|
|7:||The Peninsula Beijing|
|8:||Hyatt on the Bund|
|9:||Regalia Resort & Spa Suzhou|
|10:||Longchamp Garden Changsha|
A chic dining experience with lavish interiors and crew of attentive wait staff, the menu offers good Cantonese flavours. If you're looking for a quiet evening over refined Chinese cuisine, this is your best bet. With a water tank containing live seafood.
Location: Inside the No.8 Apartment, Chaoyang Park West Gate, Chaoyang Park
Tel: 10 6591 8999
This hot pot restaurant calls itself the No 1 Beef Hot Pot in the world and it's sort of easy to believe as the beef is sliced so thin that you can eat it raw with the sauce. Good seafood selection, too.
Location: No. 12 Zhanlan Road, Xicheng District
Tel: 10 6833 1888
Sichuan food is extremely popular in Beijing, and this ubiquitous cuisine, loved by Beijingers and Sichuanese alike, is served up in good portions in this chaotic, crowded restaurant. It is also one of the cheapest restaurants in Beijing and does not disappoint. However, you can expect to wait at least half an hour for your food, so it's not a good move to arrive ravenously hungry.
Location: 5 Gongyuan Tou Tiao
Tel: 10 6512 2277
Situated in a rundown Taoist prayer hall, there's no sign in the hutong area outside, only an aged stone archway with the Ming-era temple's name (Guangfu Guan) carved in faded characters at its apex. Great food with probably the most unusual dining atmosphere in Beijing and the direct opposite of the run-of-the-mill and typical Beijing carpeted fine dining establishment.
Location: Yandai Xiejie 37 (Next to the Lotus Bar, Back Lakes & Dong Cheng)
Tel: 10 6404 2778
Enjoy excellent western food with good presentation of a little fan of cucumber slices on a leaf of red cabbage, a tiny mound of coleslaw, a wedge of tomato and a small side of crispy French fries. Durty Nellie’s is not Beijing’s most famous burger, but it’s a fantastic value: a quarter pound of seasoned beef topped with crispy bacon and bubbling Swiss cheese. They don’t ask you how you want it; all burgers are well done. The bun is crispy and fluffy and the taste is everything you want in a burger.
Location: 1/B Liangmaqiao Flower Market
Tel: 10 6593 5050
Beijing's first vegetarian restaurant (established in 1922) Gong De Lin serves Buddhist 'imitation flesh' dishes that look like the real thing but are, in fact, tofu, vegetables and mushrooms. Plush surroundings lush food.
Location: 158 Qian Men South Road
Tel: (10) 6702 0867
Imperial court Food has its origins in the Imperial Palace. Based on dishes that were served to the Emperor and his court, nowadays, it has become extremely popular and there are several places where you can sample this unique cuisine in Beijing. Ting Li Guan in the Summer Palace and Fand Shan in Beihan Park come highly recommended. Even though it is expensive it's worth keeping in mind that 150 years ago before the court chefs had to open their own restaurants due to the demise of the palace you would never have been able to eat this type of food.
For up to eight people at a time the well-established restaurant Kao Rou Ji offers a dinner cruise in a narrow, flat-bottomed boat propelled by a single oarsman. You can have the option of hiring live music for a little more as you cruise around the man-made serenity of Qian Hai and Hou Hai. Diners can also float candles on the lake after dark. A two-hour trip, dining doesn't get much more romantic than this.
Location: next to Nuage at Qian Hai Dong Yan 14
Tel: 10 6612 5717 or 10 6404 2554
An unusual arrangement for Beijing, where there are not many family-run restaurants is Li's Family Restaurant. Li's has a non-negotiable set menu and it doesn't come cheap. On top of that the place is beastly hard to find and there's only one table– so why bother? Because the food is fantastic, that's why. The likes of Bill Gates, Mohamed Ali, Bob Hawke, Edward Heath and various rich and famous personalities have all enthusiastically signed the Li Family guestbook.
Location: 11 Yangfang Hutong, De Nei Dajie, in western Beijing
The only negative thing about this restaurant is that you have to book in advance for a table (and a duck if eating Peking duck). Otherwise it's a great atmospheric place that really delivers the goods in style. Go early if you have kids as the open kitchen is a sight to see. Great décor, comfortable and classy. From Peking Duck to the spicy Sichuan-style string beans to the passion fruit and pear champagne sorbet, everything's great here.
Location: In the Grand Hyatt Beijing 1 East Chang An Avenue
Upscale dining in a beautiful setting. Was previously in Conde Nast's Top Restaurant's of the World listings. Looks out onto the Forbidden City's moat, the Courtyard also has the best wine list in a wine-starved city and the list equals a Hong Kong upscale eatery.
Location: 95 Donghuamen Ave
Tel: 10 6526 8883
Yuebin is a favourite hangout for those who specifically hanker after Beijing food. Beijing's first privately-owned restaurant post-1949 is also one of its finest. Don't miss the guota doufu he (wok tofu boxes) and ganshao huangyu (fried yellow croaker).
Location: 43, 31 Cuihua Hutong (across from the National Museum of Art)
Tel: 10 6524 5322