8 Classic Foods You Must Try When Visiting Beijing
Visiting Beijing for the first time? When you travel to Beijing, you’ll come across the most flavorful and authentic Chinese dishes. Many of these haven’t yet made it to the West. While there are literally thousands of dishes to choose from, some can easily be the highlights of a culinary tour of Beijing. Here are eight can’t-miss specialties beloved by locals and tourists alike. How many have you tried?
1. Peking Roast Duck
You may have had roast duck before, but never like this. Beijing’s most famous dish was originally the fare of the Emperor during the Yuan Dynasty. Peking Roast Duck withstood the test of time thanks to bold flavors and extremely juicy, crispy meat. This sumptuous dish takes a long time to prepare, so book the meal well in advance.
Both Quanjude and Dadong are good places to eat Peking duck. Bianyifang is slightly cheaper than Quanjude and Dadong, and they claimed to be the oldest in Beijing.
2. Beijing Fried Sauce Noodles
This dish, also called Zhajiangmian, is a popular kind of street food. It’s a simple meal that uses just a few ingredients, expertly prepared, to highlight the flavors. There are many variations available but, for the most traditional take, look for noodles with ground pork in black bean sauce, topped with cucumber.
Hai Wan Ju (address: 6/F, North Part, Beijing Department Store, No. 255 Wangfujing Street) is one of the most famous Fried Sauce Noodles in Beijing. Alternatively, another reputable chain Lao Beijing Zhajiangmian has one branch just north of Hongqiao Market and the Temple of Heaven’s east gate. Eating at one of these restaurants is like stepping back in time to Beijing’s 1920s.
3. The Beijing Mutton Hotpot
This simple-sounding specialty packs a lot of flavor into every bite. The tender mutton is served in warm broth that is tangy and milder than many very spicy Chinese dishes. If you’re really hungry, look for a mutton hotpot served alongside traditional sesame seed buns.
Dong Lai Shun Restaurant has many different branches in Beijing. It is a typical Beijing hot pot restaurant in town.
4. Freshly Roasted Chestnuts
Chestnuts are a somewhat rare treat in the West, so travelers tend to love the Beijing take on them. This makes for a satisfying snack to eat on the go or as a delicious dessert at the end of a meal. Freshly roasted chestnuts come with both sweet and savory toppings, and can also be found in many other dishes.
Qiulixiang chestnut shop is a very popular little shop selling freshly roasted chestnuts in Beijing. (address: southern end of Nan Lou Gu Xiang Road), it’s easy to see long line of people queuing up for the chestnut.
Dumplings are tremendously popular throughout Asia, and China is no exception. Every family-run restaurant has their own spin on this versatile dish. You can find them filled with pork, beef, chicken, and vegetables served with a flavorful dipping sauce. Dumplings are traditionally eaten with family during the Chinese New Year.
Baoyuan Dumplings (address: North of 6 Maizidian Jie Chaoyang District) is one of the best-known dumpling restaurants in town.
6. Chinese Crepes
Chinese crepes, or Jian Bing, are a great food when you’re looking for something hot and served quickly. These crispy morsels come in both sweet and savory versions and are typically stuffed with eggs. Chinese crepes are extremely popular for breakfast street food, although some restaurants serve high-end versions.
Head to the stand in Nanluoguxianag and Dongsi Nan Dajie to sample some for just 5 yuan apiece.
7. Sugar Gourd
Sugar gourds, also known as Tanghulu, are an extremely popular snack in Beijing during the winter. You may see these sold in street stands, where candied fruits (including strawberries, kiwis, bananas, and more) are preserved with a hard sugar coating. These are called ‘sugar gourds’ because of the snack’s shape.
You can find sugar gourd on vendors’ bikes, supermarkets, and the Wangfujing Snack Street.
8. Sweet Potatoes with Corn
These are sold everywhere from street stands to vendors with carts and make an excellent midday snack or light meal. For the best culinary experience, choose piping hot sweet potatoes and corn that is roasted right in front of you.
Sweet Potatoes with Corn can be found on the vendors’ tricycles on the street, supermarkets and food street.