My Beijing Food Tour 2007

I love eating and have been planning a Beijing food tour for long. Last December, I have executed it and have asked my sister to be my eating partner.

Though my main objective was to eat, I have also included a little sightseeing and activities to add colour to my culinary Beijing tour.

We stayed at Shaoyuan Guest House within the Peking University campus, in order to recap our memory of those good old days at school.

We also targeted the Great Wall, Laoshe Tea House and the Prince Gong’s Palace. Of course, the Peking University is a great place for us to explore.

Here is a list of our target Beijing food and restaurant:
• Peking Duck 北京填鴨
• Sichuan Smoked Duck at Sichuan Restaurant 樟茶鴨
• Lamb Hot Pot at Dong Lai Sung 涮羊肉
• Imitated Imperial Meal of the Qing Dynasty 清宮仿膳
• Dan Dan Noodle 担担面
• Specialty Sauce Noodle 炸酱面
• Beijing Dumplings 北京水餃
• Mapo Tofu (spicy beancurd) 麻婆豆付

My Beijing Food Tour Diary

Peking Duck Dinner - December 29, 2007
Restaurant: King of Duck 鴨王烤鴨店,朝阳建国门外24号
Address: 24 Jianguomenwai, Chaoyang District, Beijing (Tel: 86 10 6515 6908)
Cost: Duck set ¥118 (for a half duck), tea ¥40 (terribly expensive, totally unacceptable!), no service charge

We've decided to kick off our Beijing food tour by a duck feast. We picked this restaurant because it is famous for its non oily ducks. In deed we are very happy because there is almost no fat at all. The service was really quick. Perhaps within three minutes after placing the order, the chef came show us our beautifully roasted Peking Duck and served in a professional manner.

We ordered a dinner set of Three Ways To Eat One Duck. ¥198 (whole duck) / ¥118 (half duck)

Way 1 – skin & meat. Very crispy skin and juicy meat
Way 2 – stir fried minced duck meat, wrapped with lettuce
Way 3 – duck soup

Lamb Hot Pot Lunch – December 30, 2007
Restaurant: Dong Lai Sung 东來順,王府井大街新东安市场五层
Address: 5/F New Dong’an Arcade, Wangfujing Main Street (Tel: 86 10 6528 0932)
Cost: Hot pot set ¥248, tea ¥6@, total ¥260, no service charge

After a visit to the Prince Gong’s Palace, we planned to go to my favourite Sichuan Restaurant for my favourite Sichuan smoked duck Zhang Cha Ya 樟茶鴨. Unfortunately, the restaurant closed at 2pm, and we were late.

As a contingency plan, we went for a lamb hot pot lunch and swap the duck to dinner. Dong Lai Sung is the most famous, however most expensive hot pot restaurant in Beijing. However this is a signature Beijing food, we just didn’t want to miss it.

In order to make life simple, we ordered a 2-person set which included lamb, pork and some vegetables. The hot pot has charcoal at the centre and it took only seconds to have the thin sheets of meat cooked.

Together with the restaurant’s heating system, it was extremely hot. I wore a T-shirt inside, so I could take off all my warm clothing and enjoy a relax lunch. It was very yummy though expensive.

Sichuan Duck Dinner – December 30, 2007
Restaurant: South Beauty 俏江南,东长安街1号,东方广场地下一层BB88
Address: BB88, G/F, Oriental Plaza, 1 East Chang’an Avenue, Dongcheng District, Beijing (Tel: 86 10 8518 6971)
Cost: ¥123 for three people, inclusive of 10% service charge

Here’s our menu:
• Half smoked duck ¥48 樟茶鴨
• Dan dan noodle ¥6 担担面
• Sichuan dumplings ¥6 龙抄手
• Countryside rice ¥5 小草饭
• Tea ¥6@
• Two desserts

Cynthia, my friend in Beijing, joined us for dinner tonight. She thought that we should do more Beijing food tour as there are plenty of yummy Chinese foods here.

In order for her not to travel a long way to the Sichuan Restaurant at the Prince Gong’s Palace, we went to a Sichuan restaurant in the city.

Our main course was of course Zhang Cha Ya 樟茶鴨 (Sichuan Duck smoked with Camphor Wood and Tea Leaves). This is a signature Sichuan dish, you can easily find it in any Beijing restaurant that sells Sichuan food. This is another famous Chinese way of eating a duck apart from Peking roast duck.

South Beauty serves authentic Sichuan food and is not expensive at all. The half duck costs ¥48. There are many mini dishes which costs only a few ¥, a very economic and yummy dinner.

Countryside rice is exceptionally good. Served in a mini bamboo basket and was very fragrant with lemon grass and some other herbs.

Authentic Beijing Chinese Cuisine Lunch – December 31, 2007
Restaurant: Daojiachang Beijing Cuisine Restaurant
Address: No. 20, Guangximen North Lane, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Cost: ¥48 (extremely good deal), tea is free, no service charge

We went to the Great Wall in the early morning. On our way back, our driver took us to an authentic Beijing cuisine restaurant, where local Beijinger do their daily meals.

This was actually a replacement of the Imitated Imperial Meal of the Qing Dynasty. We did this because we find out the Imitated Meals were very expensive and that the two of us was not able to eat that much.

Daojiachang served a similar menu and we can pick the snack dishes that used to serve the Qing Dynasty imperial family.

Here’s our menu:
• Qing Dynasty Imperial snacks – kidney bean rolls云豆卷
• Glutinous rice rolled with sesame 驢打滚
• Clay oven baked rolls with minced pork 宮庭肉末烧饼 (Empress Dowager Cixi’s favourite)
• Specialty sauce noodle (zha jiang mian) 炸酱面
• Fried beancurd with gravy and fungus 虎皮豆付

Casual Dinner at Peking University – December 31, 2007

As we spent this afternoon exploring Peking University, we had our dinner at the coffee shop at Shaoyuan. Until now, my most favourite Beijing food on my list was almost done, except Beijing dumpling and mapo tofu. Fortunately, this coffee shop served both, though the mapo tofu was of vegetarian style. So my food list was completed.

We paid only ¥15 for 14 dumplings and another ¥15 for the mapo tofu, served with plain rice. We found that we missed some green vegetables in these days, so we ordered a dish of stir fried vegetable. The 3-course dinner cost only ¥45, also a very good deal, economic, yummy and with comfortable eating environment.

Summary of My Beijing Food Tour

Beijing food is not expensive at all. If you don’t go to famous brands like Dong Lai Sung or Quanjude, you’ll save a lot of money and enjoy lots of yummy Chinese foods.

I like the mini dishes very much which cost only a few ¥ each, and you can order plenty of those and try a lot of varieties.

The BBQ chicken / lamb / beef sticks at the Snack Street along Wangfujing cost only ¥1 to ¥5 per stick. If you want to try new and funny things, pay ¥5 per stick of cocoon, pupa, cicada and ¥15 for a seahorse. You can find almost any kind of Chinese snacks from all over the country here.

Plan Your Own Beijing Food Tour

Daojiachang Beijing Cuisine Restaurant 到家嚐北京菜
I highly recommend this restaurant - good food and low price

Do some research and set up a food list like what I did. Show your list to the hotel concierge. It doesn’t need to be the hotel where you stay, any hotel concierge can help. Ask them to suggest good restaurants that are economic and nearby. Make sure to get the Chinese name and address of the restaurant on a paper and show to taxi drivers.

At a restaurant, check out the price of beverages before ordering. Waiters usually try to sell expensive drinks like a jar of juice or beer at the cost of ¥20-50 each. We didn’t watch out and had to pay ¥40 for a pot of tea at King of Duck. When we asked, we were able to order tea for ¥6 per person at the other restaurants. At Dajiachang, we even paid nothing for the tea.

Check opening hours of the restaurants is also important. We didn’t realize that Sichuan Restaurant at the Prince Gong’s Palace serves lunch only between 11am and 2pm, hence I missed my most favourite restaurant. At the Peking University, restaurants serve dinner between 4pm and 8pm. Even you go by 7.30pm, they don’t really want to serve you.

I do wish you could visit Beijing and enjoy a yummy Chinese food tour like what I have just had.

January 5, 2008

More about Beijing food

A Continuation of My Beijing Food Tour - in Hong Kong

Chinese food photos