For the past 10 years, I’ve called Beijing my home. I’ve eaten in a lot of restaurants, been to a lot of places and experienced life living like a local. If you plan to visit Beijing, the top 4 places to visit would be Forbidden City, Great Wall (Mutianyu section please!), Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace. However, if you talk about food, I give you fast 5 of Chinese cuisine you must try in Beijing:
1. Beijing roast duck (aka Peking Duck): a must-eat food when you visit Beijing. The duck is roasted with wood in a stone oven rubbed with spices and no oil. Best to order this dish when you reserve a seat as it take quite some time to cook. The duck will be carved right in front of you for Instagram shots! Notable restaurants are: Quanjude (Hepingmen Branch only, don’t bother with the other branches), Da Dong, Duck De Chine, Made In China (Grand Hyatt hotel).
2. Jianbing and soy milk: the Beijing’s version of the breakfast of the champions. You can find them at street corners near office buildings. You have the option to go vegetarian or loaded with meat. You may think it’s not too hygienic but nobody died yet! Pair your jianbing with a hot soy milk.
3. Hotpot: there are a lot of hotpot places that you can try in Beijing. For the budget-conscious traveler, Xiabu Xiabu (呷哺呷哺) offers the best deal. For mid-range, go for Haidilao (海底捞) or Dong Lai Shun (东来顺). Haidilao offers entertainment if you ordered their handmade noodles. Dong Lai Shun serve their hotpot in a traditional pot. There are different soup base to choose from (clear, spicy, tom yum, tomato), meats (lamb, pork, beef, seafood), vegetables, noodles/dumplings, sauces.
4. Dumplings (饺子): if noodles are considered the staple of the south, dumplings are considered the staple of the north. A must-eat dish especially during Chinese New Year. Families prepare their own dumplings and boil them to cook. I miss the Chinese dumpling restaurant in front of our office building which serves good dumplings. You can opt for vegetarian, meat lovers, seafood lovers or mixed fillings. Some dumplings are wrapped in different colors from the usual white.
5. Lamb Skewers (羊肉串): the days where you can find in every corner a lamb skewer vendor who grills them as you wait are slowly dying. My friends and I sometimes just sit outside on a warm balmy day with a bottle of cold beer and just these lamb skewers for dinner. However, as the local government wanted to ensure the cleanliness and authenticity of the skewers, they are now mostly available in restaurants.
There you have it! Enjoy your stay in Beijing!
Photo credits: Vivian Tang, thebeijinger