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Beijing dining


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#1 cwyc

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 12:24 PM

I might be going to Beijing this weekend. Does anyone have recommendations on restaurants and speciality items? Not familiar with the city, so any help would be great.

#2 eatingwitheddie

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 08:50 AM

I'll be traveling to Beijing in a few weeks and am interested in hearing about restaurants, street food and wet markets.

Any suggestions?

#3 Gary Soup

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 09:08 AM

Ditty Deamer has two excellent websites that are a bit dated, but very useful starting points (especially for the wet markets):

Free Markets in China

Breakfast in China

Anybody know what Ditty's up to these days?

Edited by Gary Soup, 27 January 2004 - 09:08 AM.


#4 Jon Tseng

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 09:32 AM

Think there's a wet market in south of the city by the northern edge of Tiantan park thats quite good (WARNING: THIS INFO DATES BACK TO 1997!!!) nr. the Hongqiao Pearl Market

The Night Market which runs from the east gate of the forbidden city to wangfujing well worth it

Had good food including duck at Xiaowang restaurant last time I was there - a couple branches about town

Gary - have you been before? If not I can blather on about the roast duck and imperial restaurants etc etc. If so I guess you know all about them... ?

Yeah... lots of good street food, breakfast pancakes, baozi, kebabs (grilled best but deep fried ones probably less germ-ridden). I think toffee haw fruit on a stick should be in season at the mo. And roast sweet potatoes.

cheerio

J
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#5 Gary Soup

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 09:37 AM

Gary - have you been before? If not I can blather on about the roast duck and imperial restaurants etc etc. If so I guess you know all about them... ?

I've never been to BJ, Jon, except for a stop at the airport. I save my blather for Shanghai topics.

Go for it!

#6 Boris_A

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 10:28 AM

When I was in Beijing some years ago, I liked a restaurant at the NE corner of the Ritan park very much: the Xihe Yaju restaurant.
Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

#7 Jon Tseng

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 10:49 AM

Here's some of the lao beijing classics. As you probably know from Shanghai the Chinese very into their famous-for-one-dish joints (eg "Hole in the Wall Famous for Three Hundred Years for Its Stewed Turtle Testicles") This info is a bit old but I don't think much ever changes for these...

For duck Peking Duck Quanjude is a good bet. The Qianmen branch is the original, the Wangfujing branch is also good.

For imperial court cooking there is one in the Summer Palace and Fangshan restaurant in Beihai park. Fangshan is one of the most famous restaurants in China; the food isn't great but probably still worth it for the experience and the history (think Tour D'Argent)

Donglaishan is famous for its mutton hotpot (steamboat). Very good this time of year. I think there are branches on Wangfujing and in the SE corner of Tiananmen Sq (don't know how the rebuilding of Wangfujing has affected this)

A good place to try is the Sichuan Restarant (Sichuan Fandian), which is has a great location in the gardens of Prince Gong's Mansion (Gongwangfu) to the north of the forbidden city. You can also wander in the gardens afterwards (unfortunately the mansion itself located just to the south is a music college; if you can sneak in the buildings are still very pictuaresque)

Kaorouji is a restaurant famous for its roast lamb located right at the north tip of shimachai, the chain of lakes which stretch out NW from the northern edge of the Forbidden City. Its in the guide books.

Gongdelin is a very famous vegetarian restaurant on Qianmen, about half a kilometre south of the Qianmen gate on the east side of the street.

There is a branch of Goubouli Baozi (famous tianjin baozi) just off Wangfujing. Its on the same street as the Wangfujing Quanjude branch.

As you can see, lots of famous old shit...

cheerio

J
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#8 cwyc

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 12:07 PM

Hey, I'll be in Beijing in a couple of weeks as well.

For duck Peking Duck Quanjude is a good bet. The Qianmen branch is the original, the Wangfujing branch is also good.


Speaking of Quanjude for peking duck, I was reading the location by Hepingmen Gate is the newest and largest. Have you tried it? Is it good or would you say they are all about the same? In terms of proximity and a central location, which one is the most convenient to get to, say from Tiananmen Square?

Edited by cwyc, 27 January 2004 - 12:08 PM.


#9 jo-mel

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 12:19 PM

Ditty Deamer!! What a wonderful web site! Late 1999,I asked her about Jian Bing (the breakfast pancakes that Jon Tseng mentioned) She said that she was going back to China in Jan.2000, and that she would try to get me the recipe, but I never heard back, and I didn't follow up on it.

Those Jian Bing (batter, egg, scallion, hot sauce, rollup pancake) were the best! I had them from a cart in the NE section, but I guess they are all over.

I didn't realize there was a Goubuli Baozi place. Wish I had. They are the one dumpling I REALLY want to try --- if only for the charming story of its beginning.

Wish I could add to the list, but I think Jon T covered some pretty good places. Some of the places I used to haunt, probably aren't even there, so I won't list them.

eatingwitheddie ---I hope you keep a food log, as many would be interested in what you had, where you went, and what you liked.

#10 cwyc

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 12:39 PM

What is the historical significance of the Goubli Baozi???

#11 Jon Tseng

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 02:11 PM

Goubuli - from Tianjin an hours ride by BJ. Basically they are baozi (little steamed stuffed meat buns). Named after a chap so ugly that allegedly even "goubuli" (dogs wouldn't look at him). Buns supposed to be very good or something - they're ok. the best ones are marked with a little red dot

Now franchised as a chain in many places. I think there is also a branch on the shopping street just off from Qianmen.

Reminds me of my goubuli story when we went to the original place in Tianjin. We weren't sure about amounts so we ordered two or three jin (chinese weight). Cost $20-30 which we thought was a bit pricy but reasonable for the original place. Ten minutes later a trolley rolls up, both layers STACKED with plates of baozi. Must have been about thirty plates of buns. Between three of us. Maybe a couple of hundred of the babies, all told.

Slightly over-ordered. Thankfully they did takeout.

Best baozi I ever had were lamb ones from a muslim restaurant in BJ. Hot lamby and REALLY juicy.

jo-mel yeah, jian bing. Those are the ones! haven't had them for years... they put a bit of deep fried dough in the wrap which makes it wonderfully crunchy

Yup. Sure lots of places have been been pulled down in the drive for modernisatoin. Was VERY pissed off last time to find my favourite jiaozi restaurant had only just been gutted (you could still see the outline of the sign) :angry:

cwyc - don't know about hepingmen but I haven't been back for a couple of years. quanjude started franchising out in the nineties, often with varying quality. I'd probably just go to the big qianmen one. its the original one, a bit touristy but thats part of the fun! Qianmen definitely the most convenient from Tiananmen (ten minute walk). There's other duck places to - eg the one near the Peking Union Hospital (Bianyifang, I think) also has a good rep.

Which hotels will you all be staying at?

Justines at the Jianguo hotel is a frenchy place which used to do some truffled dishes (using chinese truffles, I think). I hear the Courtyard is supposed to be a good western fushiony place (think M on the Bund, I guess) right near the forbidden city, but last time I was there it was closed for refurb, alas.

cheerio

J
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#12 jo-mel

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 02:28 PM

What is the historical significance of the Goubli Baozi???

I found the story of Goubuli in a book of practice translations. Without typing the whole thing, essentially:

-----there was a young boy, during the reign of Tongzhi (1862-1874) - Qing Dynasty - who was so headstrong that his family called him Goubuli, meaning that even dogs (gou)refused (bu-not) to go near (li) him.When he was 14, he went to work in Tianjin, as a cook. He mainly made steamed stuffed buns in a steamed food snack bar. At 16 or 17, he rented a small room with money he had put aside, hired an assistant and started his own snack bar, selling only steamed stuffed buns. Because people called him Goubuli, they aso called the bar Goubuli, also.

Evidently, even the Empress Dowager sent people to buy his buns --- which increased his reputation. After he died, his son inherited the enterprise and maintained the buns.

When the Japanese invaded and occupied Tianjin, the snack bar had great difficulties and almost shut down.

Shortly before Liberation, the business was suspended for some time, due to a family dispute among the grandson's generation.

In 1956, when private enterprises were transformed into joint state-private ownership, the local gov't found the grandson (Gao Huanzhang) and helped him to reopen the snack bar. As of that time, the Goubuli Snack Bar was situated on Shandong St. near the Quanye Market in Tianjin.

The buns themselves are supposed to be made with 70% lean pork, 30% fat pork, soy sauce, sesame oil, scallions, ginger and gravy. The stuffing is supposed to be like a thick sauce. The wrapper is made of half-fermented dough, which makes the buns resiliant.


I never looked to see if this story was on-line, somewhere. I think I'll do a google for it.

There is supposed to be a Goubuli place in NY's Queens Chinatown, but I've never been there.

There was one Chinese movie, in which they were mentioned.

Someday, I'll have one!!!

#13 jo-mel

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 03:11 PM

I did find a Goubuli 'google' link:

http://www.wayabroad...text/text34.htm

#14 Gary Soup

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 10:37 PM

There is supposed to be a Goubuli place in NY's Queens Chinatown, but I've never been there.

There was one Chinese movie, in which they were mentioned.

Someday, I'll have one!!!

You're probably talking about Flushing. You ought to make a pilgramage there just to check out the eats. On my last trip to NY to visit my daughter I made a special trip to Flushing just for some good chou doufu and other goodies at a Taiwanese place. I wish I had known about the goubuli place.

A now-defunct restaurant in San Francisco, Ryumon, used to serve goubuli as part of its dim sum offerings. I don't know if it was good goubuli or not, as it is the only place I've ever had it, but it was plenty tasty. The restaurant seemed to have a loyal clientele of northern Chinese, and was said to be a favorite hangout for Japanese consular staff. Across the Bay, there's a restaurant called "Goubuli", but they only make and serve their namesake dish one day a week, and I have yet to try it.

#15 cwyc

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Posted 28 January 2004 - 07:23 AM

What a great story about Goubuli.

I do not read Chinese. I hope these signs will be in English as well so I can identify the restaurants and eateries??

Which hotels will you all be staying at?



I am staying at a place called The Bamboo Garden Hotel. It's a little bit out of the way, near the Bell Tower.

By the way, how is it this time of year (weather-wise) to rent bikes to go around the Hulongs?

#16 eatingwitheddie

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Posted 28 January 2004 - 07:41 AM

There is supposed to be a Goubuli place in NY's Queens Chinatown, but I've never been there.

There is. They make dumplings and noodles cut by hand and dropped directly into boiling water. I've not been there since they opened some years ago. Unfortunately it was not terrific then, don't know about now.

#17 Jon Tseng

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Posted 28 January 2004 - 07:45 AM

I do not read Chinese. I hope these signs will be in English as well so I can identify the restaurants and eateries??

Which hotels will you all be staying at?


I am staying at a place called The Bamboo Garden Hotel. It's a little bit out of the way, near the Bell Tower.

By the way, how is it this time of year (weather-wise) to rent bikes to go around the Hulongs?

Could be in trouble. Most places in Chinese; do some research ahead of time, figure out the exact addresses. Its also useful having the name of famous places written down in chinese - they are often displayed on large placards above the door (albeit written backwards)

Don't know the Bamboo Garden but the location looks ok. You are dead close to a bunch of hutong around the rear lakes area (if they haven't knocked them down by now). The region north of the forbidden city also has a lot of private compounds used by china's leaders

You are reasonably close to the Sichuan Fandian, the roast lamb place and Fangshan, in Beihai Park. There is also a famous Japanese restaurant called Bai Yun located in Chaing Kai Sheks former residence located somewhere round there (again, if they haven't knocked it down!)

An time is good for biking in beijing; although it may be VERY cold!

J
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#18 chengb02

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Posted 30 January 2004 - 02:01 PM

Okay, this is paining me...Thinking of restaurants in BJ, I am thinking more about non-Chinese than Chinese...Well, if you decide on something other than Chinese, there is an excellent Brazilian place on Xi Chang An pretty close to Xidan (on same side of the street as the Time Square mall) where they have 16 rounds of different meats for dinner as well as a salad bar (after the 16 you can keep it coming if you want) for a very reasonable price (by US standars). Foodies must hit the Courtyard restuarant (www.courtyard-gallery.com) for a very interesting meal overlooking the moat and Forbidden City. Other places.....
-Afunti!!! One of my favorites for tourist friends, parties, or the ackward dinner made fun...Excellent Xinjiang food followed by Xinjiang music and dance, and then dancing on the tables. A bit difficult to find for first timers, in a hutong off of Chaoyangmen Nei, but if interested I can help...
-Shu Di Zhuan Shuo: a very trendy place a bit away from the city center (Nv Ren Jie) but amidst a burgeoning restaurant strip, the lazi yu is so good, so much better than shui zhu yu but only for fans of spicy food
-Sanlitun/Gongti Bei Lu: okay, not for the food (except nothing is better than yang rou chuanr (lamb kebab)) but for the scene...this isn't a restaurant but a strip of everchanging bars, all with their own themes (I can offer some favorites), but also there is a lovely cafe with the best coffee (Turkish or Arabic) in BJ called Dareen Coffee
-QuanJuDe: okay, its touristy, but for first timers, its a must for the peking duck
-Donglaishun: mentioned previously as one of the best hot pots around and a hot pot is the perfect food for winter months, I usually go the one on the 5th floor of XinDongAn Mall in the middle of Wangfujing
-Kong Yiji: great food and good environment, I prefer the Houhai branch more than the one on Dongsi Bei Jie
-Red Capital Club: depending on the price range, this is a grat place for a good meal and very touristy but because of the price it isn't packed with tourists (its small enough that its never really packed at all)

okay, that is a pretty good list, but I will think of some more...The trendy restuarants in BJ are iffy...I have heard many good things about Jing, especially after it overthrew Courtyard as tops in the city...I was underwhelmed with Aria, and am very interested in going to Green T. House next time in town. Tandoor is overpriced, especially after just getting back from London and having really good Indian food. Morel's (belgium food) is excellent and well-priced...Interested in hearing what other people have to say!

#19 chengb02

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Posted 30 January 2004 - 02:48 PM

Think there's a wet market in south of the city by the northern edge of Tiantan park thats quite good (WARNING: THIS INFO DATES BACK TO 1997!!!) nr. the Hongqiao Pearl Market

another place came to mind, while you are out that way, you should hit Lao Beijing Zhajiangmian, across the street from Tiantan's North (?) Gate and kitty corner from Hongqiao market (sorry, I always forget which gate faces Hongqiao)...A great place for traditional Beijing food and always packed but fast service...Definitely a good spot...

#20 chengb02

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Posted 30 January 2004 - 04:37 PM

Speaking of Quanjude for peking duck, I was reading the location by Hepingmen Gate is the newest and largest. Have you tried it? Is it good or would you say they are all about the same? In terms of proximity and a central location, which one is the most convenient to get to, say from Tiananmen Square?

Most convenient QuanJuDe from Tiananmen would be the original at Qianmen. To get there from Tiananmen, walk away from Forbidden City, toward Qianmen, past the subway stop and down Qianmen Dajie a little bit. Well, there is also one on Qianmen Xidajie, by the big KFC (I think the first one in BJ), but why not walk a bit further and hit the original?
As for Goubuli, there are a couple in BJ, I am aware of one somewhere around Xidan...

#21 Jon Tseng

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Posted 01 February 2004 - 12:09 PM

Hullo Cheng

What is the food at the Courtyard like? As I said I've heard about it but never been there

And Jing?

Also is Uygherville still around (if so where is it nowadays?) - it always seemed to be in the process of getting knocked down and relocated by the constant building works; would be interesting to know it its still around

cheerio

J
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#22 chengb02

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Posted 01 February 2004 - 12:28 PM

John, if you're referring to the area around the Niu Jie temple, that is long gone, as far as I know not to have been replaced...Not sure what happened with all the Uighyers now...
Courtyard has a very contemporary Asian fusion type menu, with a lot of Chinese influences. The food is excellent, I've been there both for dinner and the excellent 3 course and Champagne prixe fixe Sunday lunch on a number of occassions which was an excellent deal (not sure if its still going on). I have my own pictures, but go to the source for the best, there is a link to the restaurant on the gallery's webpage www.courtyard-gallery.com. The restaurant has a very plain white interior with just a few of the top art works from the most recent show on the wall. It also is directly across the pond from the Forbidden City, so its a very nice setting.
As for Jing, I guess its an inaccurate statement to say it knocked out Courtyard as BJ's top restaurant as it was listed in Conde Naste's 75 Best New Restuarants around the World, an honor Courtyard received when it opened. It is surprising it took the Palace this long to get some solid restaurants, as they also have opened Huang Ting late last year, which has been the new talk of the town. I haven't dined at either restaurant yet though. Jing serves mostly Asian fusion as well, in the same price range as Courtyard.

#23 Susan G

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Posted 20 February 2004 - 04:28 PM

When I was there in '94 there was a Uigherville the length of a hutong near the Beijing Shoudou ShiFan Daxue (BJ Capital Normal (or teachers) University). Excellent roast mutton with cumin, and the best flatbread I've ever had! The muslims there had green or hazel eyes - they sold the juiciest currents!
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#24 cwyc

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Posted 23 February 2004 - 01:23 PM

Just got back from my trek around Asia. Was in Beijing for a few days and managed to stop by a couple of restaurants as suggested by fellow e-gulleteers. Just wanted to thank you all for your input and suggestions.
Managed to make it to the Quanjude duck restaurant located on Qianmen. Although Jon Tseng had mentioned it was very touristy, I was impressed all the same. Most of the people that dined there that evening were locals anyway. But more importantly, touristy or not, I have to categorically say it is the best roast Peking/Beijing duck I have ever had in my entire existence. No exaggeration. Instead of going à la carte, we opted for the set menu for two. Duck is one of those things that need to be made with care and experience because it tends to be on the fatty side. When the carver came out with the whole duck and cut it up in front of us, he sliced off a few pieces of the skin and placed it on a separate plate from the rest of the duck he was carving. It was both crispy and melt-in-your mouth all at once. There was also freshly prepared asparagus and chinese mushrooms among other duck dishes. But probably the most memorable was the duck broth. It was so intensely rich and deeply flavoured with duck, duck and more duck. Just amazing.
Also made it to the Gobouli restaurant located downtown. Not too impressed with the steamed buns. Reminded me of a fast food joint spinning out mass produced buns.
Also made it to some of the street markets. I loved all of the seafood and pieces of meat on a stick. Very greasy, but it was fun. They tried to get me to eat sea horse on a stick and bugs on a stick. Even I have my limits.

#25 chengb02

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Posted 23 February 2004 - 01:56 PM

glad you enjoyed your experience in Beijing! Interested in knowing more of your dining stops and how they turned out. Quanjude, especially the Qianmen branch, is always very good, though as Jon said, it can be touristy (the "locals" were probably Chinese tourists). Its also a bit overpriced, you're paying for the reputation, but its worth it...

#26 oenomania

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 12:05 PM

Sad to see there are no replies to this question. I am going to Beijing at the end of the week and would love a few recommendations of authentic places to eat and dishes to look out for, special markets, etc.

Thanks!

#27 chengb02

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 12:12 PM

I might be going to Beijing this weekend. Does anyone have recommendations on restaurants and speciality items? Not familiar with the city, so any help would be great.

Well...Can you help narrow it down a bit? Are you in China often or live there? Are you looking just for Chinese restaurants? If you're in Beijing, eat peking duck and do so at one of the many Quanjude locations (or somewhere else). You might want to use the search function and see many of the comments in the past about Beijing dining.

#28 Gary Soup

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 12:56 PM

Sad to see there are no replies to this question. I am going to Beijing at the end of the week and would love a few recommendations of authentic places to eat and dishes to look out for, special markets, etc.

Thanks!

You might want to take a look at a couple of Ditty Deamer's web pages. Breakfast in China will fill you in on some of the street foods you may encounter, and China's Free Markets is a pretty comprehensive look at Farmers' Markets. Both are a little dated, but I doubt that things have changed much.

#29 oenomania

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 01:16 PM

Thanks for the replies; I am not in China often and, indeed, this is my first trip to Beijing. So I aim to restrict my attention to Chinese restaurants and apart from having a go at Beijing duck I would like a few recommendations for snake restaurants, 'fine' restaurants, dumplings, street food, etc etc.

#30 herbacidal

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 04:08 PM

Sad to see there are no replies to this question. I am going to Beijing at the end of the week and would love a few recommendations of authentic places to eat and dishes to look out for, special markets, etc.

Thanks!

Gary's right. Check those links out, they're pretty good.

And if you're willing to be adventurous, you can just stumble randomly around town, and you're very likely to find tons of authentic food.
Herb aka "herbacidal"

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