Beijing is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. There are lively street markets and giant shopping centers for the shopaholics, beautifully preserved historical monuments and landmarks for the history buff, a convenient public transportation system, a dynamic, active night life for the social butterflies, and most importantly of all, amazing cuisine and restaurants for the foodies.
Here is a guide of some of the top restaurants that I have been to in Beijing. If you enjoy good authentic Chinese cuisine, I highly recommend these.
Jin Ding Xuan
No.77 Hepinglixi Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing 100000, China
Afternoon tea with dim sum on a weekend with your entire extended family is a tradition that is valued and upkept by many families, even the most modern ones. Jin Ding Xuan is in the neighborhood near Tiananmen. Many people often go there to relax after taking touring the famous Lama Temple, Temple of Confucius, or walking on the Great Wall. Jin Ding Xuan serves the typical dim-sum dishes that you will find at any dim-sum restaurants – however, I highly recommend the shumai.
It is difficult to get the thin wrapping to cook through without being too mushy, while keeping the juices inside the meat filling just right, yet Jin Ding Xuan manages to perfect this skill. The atmosphere of this place is great for double or even triple dates – it is decorated like an ancient Chinese palace… think Forbidden City style. Be warned though: the toilets, although extremely clean, are squat toilets, not the typical seated ones Americans are used to seeing.
Places to visit nearby:
Palace Museum (4 Jingshan Front St, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing Shi, China, 100006)
Famously located inside the Forbidden City, the Palace Museum showcases artifacts, hosts tours, and displays art from the from the years 1420 to 1912, in which the rulers from Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty were housed.
BeiJing Aquarium (BeiXiaGuan, Haidian Qu, Beijing Shi, China, 100006)
If history is not your niche, visit the BeiJing Aquarium. It is the world’s largest inland aquarium. There are touch pools, dolphin shows in a large arena, educational rooms, and a large display of aquatic creatures from all over the world.
King’s Joy Beijing
No. 2 Wudaoying Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing, Beijing 100027, China
If you would like to have some dim sum and Chinese cuisine with a more upscale, elegant environment in a more intimate setting, King’s Joy Beijing is a great choice. There is a live harp player seated in the center of the restaurant, which is a courtyard-garden style. What makes this high-end dim sum restaurant unique is its vegetarian and vegan menu made with locally-acquired foods. Dining here is more than just about eating dim sum, it is about creating an experience -- from the elegant orchid decorations, to the soft harp music, to the personalized name cards and polaroid photos taken after the meal. I highly recommend this place if you are a vegetarian or a vegan or someone who is just health conscious.
Place to visit nearby:
National Center for Performing Arts (2 W Chang'an Ave, Xicheng Qu, China, 100031)
This performing arts center is in a uniquely egg-shaped titanium building. It hosts a variety of shows, from modern pop concerts to traditional Chinese operas to Russian Ballets. Since tickets range in prices from very inexpensive to more pricey depending on seating and who is performing, it is easy to catch a show before you leave just to experience the venue. It is colloquially called “The Giant Egg” because of its shape.
**Da Dong **
301Hao Jing Xin Lv DaSha LiaoCheng, Beijing, China
Da Dong is an extremely upscale, modern restaurant that specializes in roast duck. If you have only eaten the exterior meat of a duck, I recommend ordering the whole duck from this restaurant. The chefs are highly skill at preparing the duck, from cutting it to cooking it. The inner organs are cooked and seasoned correctly so it does not have a bloody smell.
The outer portion is roasted beautifully so that the skin is crispy, the fat is against the meat, making it extremely moist. In addition to the chef preparing and cutting the duck in front of you, the waiter will also give you a small lesson on how to efficiently eat the different parts of the duck. It is definitely a great experience if you enjoy duck or simply want to try something new.
Places to visit:
Liaocheng Dongchang Lake Amusement Park* (2 Fansen Rd, Dongchangfu Qu, Liaocheng Shi, Shandong Sheng, China, 252000)*
This is located right along the waterfront of Dongchang Lake so the views are beautiful. It has your typical amusement park rides, but also has a special dragonboat ride. Riders sit inside a hand-carved and hand-painted boat shaped like a dragon, which is moved along the river by strong rowers who weld large wooden oars. It is a great chance to relax and enjoy the surrounding scenary.
Guangyuelou (Louxi St, Dongchangfu Qu, Liaocheng Shi, Shandong Sheng, China, 252000)
This tower, also known as the Light Tower, is surrounded by Dongchang Lake. It houses some rich cultural history since it has housed many emperors and empresses from the Song to the Tang Dynasty. It is one of Liaocheng district’s famous towers and symbols.
BeiJing Haidilao Hot Pot (Wangfujing)
8/F, In 88 Shopping Mall, No.88 Wangfujing Main Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China
Hot Pot is another type of dining style common amongst the Chinese. This style of dining typically consists of people gathered around a table filled with all sorts of raw vegetables and bite sized pieces of meat. These foods around the table surround a giant pot of boiling water, which may have two compartments – one for the “spicy” water and one for the plain water. It is a family-style, cook-as-you-eat kind of experience, which usually lasts for over an hour.
If you have never had hot pot before, BeiJing Haidilao should be your first experience. The meats are all carefully selected to have the perfect marbling pattern and then cut into just right-sizes. The vegetables are washed very well, with no sand or dirt left behind. Their selection is very wide too, ranging from the typical beef cuts to pig brains and cow intestine, without over 20 sauces and condiments to choose from at a self-serve station. If you order the noodles, there will be a chef who makes it fresh in front of you. If you are an adventurous eater, definitely try out hot pot, and try it at BeiJing Haidilao.
Place to visit nearby:
National Art Museum of China (1 Wusi St, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing Shi, China, 100006)
This museum was founded in 1958 by Mao Zedong. It currently showcases artwork from ancient China and contemporary Chinese artists. There are also special exhibitions that change seasonally and an educational art section for Children. It is one of the largest museums in China and admission is free, so take a look around when you are done eating.
Temple of the Sun (Ritan Park, Jianguomen, Ritan Park, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China)
This is located in Ritan Park, a great area to picnic. The arrangement of trees and flowers in the spring and summer help connect you to nature in a crowded city like BeiJing. It is a popular place for locals to sit or take walks in, and is equally filled with tourists, too. Very scenic area, especially around sunset, if you are into photography.
Beijing is an amazing city, not just for its history and its modern amenities, but also for its delicious and different types of cuisines available. If you are visiting or planning to visit Beijing, definitely check out those restaurants after you are finished sight-seeing!
Photo by Tony Bertolino on Unsplash