Beijing’s place as a top food city is often a topic of fierce debate among gourmets, street food aficionados and culinary connoisseurs. What is not, however, is the fact that the colossal capital of the People’s Republic of China has some remarkable restaurants. From mid-range to high-end, here are 15 of the best tables in Beijing.
Green T. House
This ultra-swish designer tea house/art gallery/restaurant in the Shunyi Villa District of Beijing is as much a museum of contemporary dÃ©cor as a temple of haute-gastronomy.
Da Dong Roast Duck
Beijing roast duck is a famous culinary export and many restaurants in the capital compete for the title of “most authentic”. With a heartfelt apology to the venerable Quan Ju De restaurant, the caliber of the duck at Da Dong is nonpareil.
While the full spectrum of native Chinese cuisine is on vivid display in Beijing, other styles get the royal treatment as well. A strong case in point is the elegant Japanese restaurant Hatsune, in Chaoyang District.
Hotels in Beijing, as is so often the case in China and, indeed, East Asia, host some of the most expensive and posh restaurants in the city. Zen5es, in the Westin Beijing Financial Street in Xicheng District, serves Cantonese classics with modern twists and is a prime example where price and quality converge.
MÃ©li MÃ©lo, a hip haven of French fusion on the second floor of Les MillÃ©simes, is a Chaoyang District hot spot. Happily, the level of the food on the plate complements the fashion-forward milieu.
Yet another Beijing address with a decidedly Manhattan-like non-Mandarin name, Aria delivers haute Euro cuisine from the luxe confines of the Shangri-La China World Hotel.
Ding Ding Xiang
Hot pot is all the rage in Bejing, with no better outlet that Ding Ding Xiang. The emphasis at the restaurant opposite Donghuan Guangchang is on mutton – the signature jinpai tiaoliao sesame sauce is dangerously addictive.
The South Beauty Group is a formidable player on the restaurant scenes in Beijing and Shanghai but, rather notably, this is one case where the word “chain” is free from negative overtones. As a result, the smart dÃ©cor and food at South Beauty, close to Dongsi Shitiao Station, is a good bet.
South Silk Road
As the name infers, South Silk Road whips up cuisine with a definite nod to Laos, Thailand and Vietnam-adjacent Yunnan Province. While the food is first-class, what separates this funky joint from the pack is the proprietor: irreverent-realist painter Fang Lijun.
Dong Lai Shun
Chaoyang teems with excellent kitchens, as the flagship outlet of the Dong Lai Shun chain so patently evinces. The sage doyen of Beijing hot pot is still on the ball, after close to a century in the game.
Dong Bei Ren (Manchurian Special Flavour Jiavozi Restaurant)
A favourite in the Dongzhimenwai Dajie embassy row area of the capital, Dong Bei Ren, or less elegantly, Manchurian Special Flavour Jiavozi Restaurant, offers solid interpretations of northeast Chinese cuisine. Another exemplary restaurant chain in Beijing with quality cooks at the helm.
The scene across from Dong Bei Ren – Photo credit
Liu’s Family Restaurant (Liu Zhai Shifu)
This courtyard oasis in the chaotic capital is a spectacular find for those who stumble upon it by chance. To actually secure a table, however, is another matter. Wildly popular with locals, Liu Zhai Shifu is a clandestine little spot opposite the Sanlian bookstore in central Beijing.
Jin Ding Xuan (Golden Tripod Attic)
For superlative dim sum post a Yonghe Temple visit, make a beeline for Jin Ding Xuan restaurant. A gem in Fang Zhuang, Fengtai District.
Kong Yi Ji
Insanely popular, even for Beijing, Kong Yi Ji is worth the wait if you can stand the inevitable hustle bustle inside. The Houhai lake backdrop is a plus but the main draw here is the skill and flair of the kitchen staff, most evident in staples like zuixia and youtiao niurou.
The incessant word on Fang Shan, a famous banquet-style Imperial restaurant in Beihai Park, is that it caters to tourists. Forget the cynical snobs who deride the place as a costly waste – bottom-line, the royal kitchen fare at Fang Shan is incomparable.