While you will certainly find cuisine from right across the planet on offer in Beijing, you really should spend some of your dining time sampling the local specialties. Two of the local favourites which you shouldn’t miss are Beijing Duck (also known as Peking Duck) and Hot Pot. The former is widely regarded as the best the city has to offer when it comes to local cuisine although some people find it a little too greasy. Nevertheless, you will find it on the menu in all traditional restaurants as well as many of the not so authentic and if you do like duck, then don’t leave without trying it.
Hotpot also makes an appearance on most menus and comes in two varieties – Mongolian and Sichaun. The Mongolian version is quite mild and is usually made from seafood and a mixture of vegetables. Sichauan, on the other hand, is quite spicy and made from mutton which is cooked in a copper pot with a type of soup. The meat only takes seconds to cook and is then dipped into a special sesame butter sauce. For the vegetarians among you, however, the good news is that this hotpot can also be made from a variety of ingredients including tofu, cabbage, bean sprouts and noodles.
Another big favourite among the Chinese are their snacks and the capital alone has over 250 different types of traditional snack foods. Combing different flavours and cooking methods which have made their way into the country over the centuries, they really are a bit of a culinary adventure and restaurants serving them can be found all over the city making it even more exciting.
Finally, when you are eating out you will notice distinctive differences between the eating habits of the locals and those of westerners. The most obvious is probably the fact that instead of each person having their own plate, all the food is placed in the centre of the table so everyone can sample a little of everything. If you are been treated to dinner, be prepared to leave some behind because you’ll never possibly be able to eat everything that is put in front of you. Basically, when it comes to table manners what the locals do goes regardless of how strange it may seem to you.
32 Qianmen Dajie, Beijing, China
Gnashing your gnashers into some crispy Peking Duck is as much a part of a visit to Beijing as going to Tiananmen Square. Open since 1864, this eatery is quite touristy, but venture in for the famous dish and you'll leave satisfied.
Open daily from 11am-2pm, 4.30pm-9pm.
14 Quianmen Xidajie, Beijing, China
Well you can’t visit the city without trying its most renowned dish and there’s nowhere better to try it than this place. Serving up roast duck for about 160 years, these guys really know what they’re doing.
6 Shoudu Tiyuan Nan Lu, Beijing, China
For those of you who haven’t guessed, this particular eatery dishes up traditional fast food at incredibly cheap prices. Yet despite the fact that it is fast food, the restaurant itself is comfortable, the food is good and the atmosphere complements them both.
Tanjiehu Park, East Gate, Beijing, China
This is a great place to get traditional local fare at a fraction of traditional Beijing prices. It might not be the most impressive restaurant in the city, but it’s got the best snacks in town and more varieties than you could ever hope to try in a visit.
Between Wangfujing Dajie, and the east gate of the Forbidden City, Beijing, China
You can’t stay in Beijing without visiting at least one of the night markets while you’re there and the recently revamped Donghuamen is probably one of the most hygienic there is. OK so they might not be the safest place in the world but even if you don’t eat anything, go to soak up the atmosphere of this other world.
233 Wangujing Dajie, Beijing, China
One of the latest crazes in Beijing is Pearl Milk Tea and the establishments which serve this beverage are known as bubble tea houses – the reason being that the tea contains tapioca pearls which create bubbles after shaking the whole concoction in a special canister. And this place is one of the best in which to sample this Taiwanese import but you should note that it closes at 9.00pm
135 Xizhimenwaidajie Xiginggu, Beijing Exhibition, Beijing, China
With over forty years of tradition, this was one of the first western restaurants in Beijing and is famous not only for its food but for the rather haphazard décor. As well as traditional Russian cuisine, it also serves up a rather tasty variety of European dishes.
Dongdaquia Lu, Chaoyang East, Beijing, China
Mexican food has really taken off in Beijing in the last couple of years but the most interesting thing about this restaurant is the way it serves a unique mix of both Mexican and Chinese cuisine. It makes for a pretty interesting dining experience and don’t forget to wash it all down with a nice cool margarita or two.
Sanlitun Bar Street North, Chaoyang Northeast, Beijing, China
The newest Thai restaurant in the city, this rather oddly named eatery is ultra modern and ultra good value. Traditional Thai favourites as well as some interesting new creations which incorporate some Chinese methods and ingredients, Serve the People is well worth a try.
LG Oriental Plaza, 1, Dongchan'an Jie, Beijing, China
If you have a craving for something other than Chinese food you may find it here. This is where you'll find a Thai and a Japanese restaurant, while if you want something a bit more western you'll be able to grab a baguette for lunch on the go.
Open daily from 9.30am-10pm.