How lucky we are to have
Dr. Jane Liedtke as part of the Journeywoman Network! Jane is
a professor from Illinois State University on assignment in China
as Director of The Training Center, a corporate management training
facility. She has traveled to China 14 times since 1987, she lived
in Beijing in 1992 and returned in 1998. We asked Jane to tell
us about some of her favorite Beijing restaurants. She writes...
has as big an array of restaurants as any major world capital
-- everything from Chinas minority cuisines to Beijing's
own rather bland fare to the world's finest in German, Middle
Eastern, Indian, and Italian food. Those desiring an "American"
break can always find the golden arches of MacDonalds, Kentucky
Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut or Kenny Rogers as they are everywhere
in the city.
However, if youd like
to be a little more adventurous here are some of my suggestions....
stir fried greens beans, etc...
the Yabalu Russian Market at the Southwest of Ritan Park
(Embassy area of the city) is the Ritan Park Restaurant.
It has indoor dining and outdoor cafe tables set along a
Chinese garden in traditional-style Chinese architecture.
Don't be confused by the small restaurant along the sidewalk
- go back further into the building and find a nice place
to relax and eat. The menu is in English and it lists many
wonderful dishes to try (as well as some pretty strange
items and very unusual English translations of animal parts).
Cost is very reasonable - a recent lunch for two adults
and one child (a Hermail.net
visitor to Beijing) was just $6.00. We had jiaozi (dumplings),
fried rice, pork and scallions, and stir fried green beans
(a signature dish). Enough food for all of us!
Duck is a must...
- - everyone coming to Beijing must have some Peking Duck.
Most restaurants have duck (yazi) available so it is really
not necessary to go to one of the tourist restaurants. As
with anything touristy, you are bound to pay far more than
you need to for a multiple course meal with every possible
part of the duck served. Near the end of the feast, around
course five, you will finally receive the worth-waiting-for
duck, pancakes, plum sauce, and scallions. This is actually
Beijings version of a burrito.
The reality is that
most visitors to Beijing prefer this course of the duck
meat and pancakes best. Therefore, I recommend skipping
the rest and selecting a restaurant where your duck meat
will cost between 58 and 80 RMB ($7-10.00). Then you can
order vegetables and other dishes to accompany it. Allow
40 - 45 minutes for your duck to be cooked as they will
not cook it until you order it.
Where to go? If you
can travel to the west city near the CCTV Tower (China's
tallest building) you will find JiuHuaShan to be
the best choice in the city. It is located in a hotel complex
on Baiwanzhuang Road heading west before it reaches the
Third Ring Road. However, if you are on the East side of
the city, the best option is: Beijing Duck Chuan Lu Feng
Wei on Xinyuanxili Road (east) across from the YuYang
Hotel. Ask your hotel concierge to show you on the map these
two top locations (non-tourist places where all the expats
like to go). The above mentioned Ritan Park Restaurant is
also a good place for a duck for lunch or dinner - 58 RMB.
next category of food that is a "must try" in
Beijing is Mongolian Hot Pot. Hot Pots are a copper or brass
pot with coals inside to keep broth boiling. Brought to
the table are shaved meats, sliced greens, and noodles (also
seafood is available but that is not the traditional hot
pot). Mutton is the meat of choice although pork, chicken,
and beef available. At your place you will have a bowl of
dipping sauce that is a sesame paste and tastes more like
peanut butter than anything else. To that a hot chili pepper
oil is added to taste - mild to ultimately spicy. The meat
is dipped into the pot like fondue and then fished out (with
your chopsticks) and into the bowl of sauce. It is a fun
way to enjoy a meal by yourself or with friends. Hot Pot
restaurants abound so it's often best to ask for one near
your hotel. The most famous one is in the Feng Shan Hutong
near Fuchenmenwai. Take Xidan north from ChangAn Blvd (the
main east-west street in central Beijing) to the XiSi intersection
at Fuchenmenwai. Turn left (west) and go to the next traffic
light. Turn left again (heading south) the restaurant will
be on the right (west side of the street).
dumplings and pizza...
The other typical
Beijing food is noodles (mein) and dumplings (jiaozi) which
can be had everywhere
in the city. If
in doubt just order the mein tang (noodle soup) or ju rou
jiaozi (pork dumplings). You can't go wrong with either!
Western Food - if you
love pizza try any of the Adria Beijing locations
(there are three). All have woodfired ovens with wonderful
pizza. For a nice dinner of pasta with a bountiful array
of sauce choices head for Metro Cafe.
Read all about it...
good news is that there are three tabloid-size newspapers
in English which come out on Fridays. Look for them at
your hotel desk. All of them list the best restaurants,
have restaurant reviews, names/addresses like a directory
(because there is no English section of the Beijing phone
book to look up places to dine). Ask for Metro,
City Edition, and Beijing Scene at your
hotel. All will be useful to you not only for eating out
but for other events going on in the city at the time.
a savvy Beijing diner...
you do not want more tea, leave some in your cup.
- It is considered
rude to tap your chopsticks on the table.
- Sauces are for dipping.
Do not pour them into your rice bowl
- Dropping your chopsticks
is considered bad luck.
- Do not place your
chopstick parallel on the top of your bowl. This, too,
is considered bad luck.
(Source: Raise Your Cultural IQ, Louisa Nedkov, ISBN0-9684413-0-0)
Ed. note: Heading off to
to read the Journeywoman mini "Know-Before-You-Go Noodle Guide."
You might want to print and pack this helpful bit of info.
To read "The Chinese
English Teacher," click here.
Want more China travel tips?
You can find them here.