Beijing Food Guide: Best Food In Beijing

pot of sichuan stir fry

Beijing has been the capital city of China since the Yuan dynasty. A centre for China’s cultural heritage, famous for well-known sites such as The Forbidden City, The Great Wall of China and the Temple of Heaven, Beijing is a city known for its profound history.

However, there is more to Beijing than just its temples and palaces. One of the best parts of visiting Beijing is trying out the amazing variety of food that it has to offer. From its best street food to restaurant delicacies, here’s some of the best food in Beijing that you need to try! 

chef cutting duck meat

Peking Duck

Peking Duck is a delicacy that has been served in China for thousands of years, and has become synonymous with Beijing itself. The deliciously roasted duck is served in slices or finely shredded with pancakes, slices of cucumber and spring onion. It is also served with the crispy duck skin as a side delicacy, which is almost as tasty as the duck meat itself. The duck is beautifully and artfully prepared and cooked, taking over a month of preparation to achieve its unique taste. This dish is truly a taste experience unlike anything you would find outside China. An essential part of sampling Peking duck is dipping the slices of duck meat or skin into sugar and holding it in your mouth until the sugar melts – it will blow your mind!

pot of sichuan stir fry

Sichuan Cuisine

Bringing the world kungpao chicken, Sichuan cuisine is known for its spicy flavours and variety of tastes, being made up of thousands of different spice and flavour combinations. Beijing is home to some amazing Sichuan restaurants where you can sample some of these gorgeously seasoned dishes. When in a Sichuan restaurant, order your dishes like tapas so you can try them all as a group, and take your fill of the vegetable side dishes, which are honestly to die for. I will never forget the taste of the spicy, dry fried green beans or cauliflower. I am drooling thinking about it. Don’t forget the garlic broccoli and a side dish of cucumber!

hot pot cooking

Hot Pot Cooking

Although hot pot dishes are a part of Sichuan cuisine, specific Hot Pot restaurants are a must-try experience while in Beijing. You’ll find in the middle of your table an in-built hot pot dish ready for you to cook your meal right in front of you. The restaurant staff will bring you your ingredients as you al start crafting your hot pot dish together, talking away over a hot bubbling cauldron. This type of restaurant-dining really builds upon the communal-aspect of Chinese food culture, and is a really fun experience to have of Beijing.

shop counter with rows of bean cakes

Bean Cakes

Bean Cakes and Mooncakes or yuè bǐng are a particular kind of baked cake and are sold all year round, but are traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Great as a quick snack or meal-on-the-go, these small cakes can be found all over Beijing from street vendors and are normally made using flaky pastry encasing a thick sweet filling made using red bean, lotus-seed or coconut paste. My favourites were ones made using red bean paste which tastes a little bit like jam, and coconut. Be careful though, not all of the cakes are filled with sweet pastes. Some have meat with cream fillings and sometimes fish, including tuna which is a little bit of a shock when you’re expecting something sweet not fishy! I learnt that the hard way!

Chinese horthorn toffee apples

Hawthorn Toffee Apples

Ranging from ¥5 to ¥25, these sugar-glazed hawthorn apples are a great little pick me up for a small price. Tanghulu are a little bit like the Chinese equivalent of English Toffee Apples and are sold everywhere, from food stalls down the hutongs to street vendors selling them from the back of bikes and are a must-try sweet treat while in Beijing. It’s not just apples either, you can also buy toffee-covered strawberries, grapes, olives, you name it, they’ll have it.

fried dumplings

Dumplings

China is well known for its dumplings, it’s one of the foods that pops into your mind when you think of it. But what you don’t realise until you try authentic Chinese dumplings is how much better they are! Dumplings in China are a delicacy that is essential to sample in order to make every trip complete. With so many different dumplings to try, you’ll have plenty of options. Gyoza (Japanese) or Jiaozi are dumplings that are crescent-shaped and filled with juicy meat or vegetables. They are fried until golden-brown and then served with dipping sauce. Bāozi are steamed buns that are soft and light, often filled with meat; you can find these being sold early in the morning in the hutongs by small street food sellers and are a great option for breakfast. Guo Tie are pan-fried dumplings that are also called pot-stickers, which can be found in all varieties all over Beijing.

fired scorpions on sticks

Fried Scorpions

Brave Wanfujing Street for some unusual eats including fried scorpions and starfish to really make your trip to Beijing memorable. These delicacies are made mostly for tourists who want to say that they’ve tried fried scorpion, but it’s worth tasting, and if you’re not brave enough to taste theses deep-fried creepy crawlies, then you can still watch them be fried right in front of you! Warning: they taste like dry bits of chicken deeply fried, and may still be moving before they are fried.

store selling yogurt soya drinks

Soybean Yogurt Drink

In China, soybean or soyabean products are a stable part of a normal weekly diet as milk is not a huge part of Chinese food following the milk scandal in 2008. While you are more likely to find soya milk than cow milk being served with your coffees or teas, soybean yoghurt drinks can be found all over Beijing. They are sold in small pots that you can drink out of and often are cheaper if you return the pots once you’ve finished drinking. These little yoghurt drinks taste a bit like natural yoghurt and are a refreshing snack or breakfast option as opposed to dumplings and should definitely be on your food bucket list alongside all the amazing food that Beijing has to offer!

Visiting Beijing? You’ll find plenty of ideas for seeing the best of Beijing over in the Travel section on China!

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3 Comments

  1. Ian Gair
    August 15, 2018 / 8:10 pm

    Can I make a reservation for dinner next Saturday evening, a quiet table for two please.

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