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...
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
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
dumplings and pizza...
The other typical Beijing
food is noodles (mein) and dumplings (jiaozi) which can be
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 Asia?
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.