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Beijing dining


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#31 chengb02

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 04:25 PM

apart from having a go at Beijing duck I would like a few recommendations for snake restaurants, 'fine' restaurants, dumplings, street food, etc etc.

for peking duck, as mentioned earlier, Quanjude (all over the city, but the oldest and original is at Qianmen) is a bit touristy, but there are also tons of Chinese that go there...Much of the "fine" dining as in "hip" places are western, but the Palace Hotel opened a highly, acclaimed Cantonese restaurant. There are also a number of places to go for Imperial style banquets. For street food, there is the overpriced joke on Wangfujing, but near the end of Wangfujing (by XinDongAn shopping center) there are stands that open at night. For dumplings, just look around for some local place as there should be many. Snake isn't a food often found in Beijing, some Cantonese restaurants serve it and there is the Dai Village Restaurant, a popular tourist place based on the Dai minority cuisine (never been, so not sure how authentic) that serves snake among other things.

#32 jo-mel

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 05:20 PM

It's been a while since I was there, but I guess you would still find You Tiao on the streets in the morning.

My favorite Beijing street food -- aside from the delights at the night markets, is Jian Bing --- a 'batter, and egg wrap with scallions and hot sauce'. They are sold by individuals with a special grill, out on the sidewalks.

#33 Gary Soup

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Posted 03 May 2004 - 05:46 PM

It's been a while since I was there, but I guess you would still find You Tiao on the streets in the morning.

Youtiao reputedly originated in the Shanghai area (actually Zhejiang). The story goes that some people were sitting with the cook in a dumpling shop in Hangzhou, when someone mentioned the betrayal of Yu Fei by Qin Hui. One of the kibitzers picked up a strip of dough, saying "This is Qin Hui". then picked up another one, saying "and this is his wife." He then twisted the two together and tossed them in a pot of boiling oil.

Remember that when you eat one!

#34 jo-mel

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Posted 04 May 2004 - 10:24 AM

It's been a while since I was there, but I guess you would still find You Tiao on the streets in the morning.

Youtiao reputedly originated in the Shanghai area (actually Zhejiang). The story goes that some people were sitting with the cook in a dumpling shop in Hangzhou, when someone mentioned the betrayal of Yu Fei by Qin Hui. One of the kibitzers picked up a strip of dough, saying "This is Qin Hui". then picked up another one, saying "and this is his wife." He then twisted the two together and tossed them in a pot of boiling oil.

Remember that when you eat one!

I remember that story everytime I eat YouTiao!

There is a (if I remember correctly, a 'relief', or ?statue? of those 'two devils' at the Yu Fei Memorial in HangZhou. Directly in front of the 'relief' is a sign saying 'Don't Spit'!!!!

#35 eatingwitheddie

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Posted 09 May 2004 - 07:39 PM

Some Beijing Restaurant Suggestions

Made in China – Grand Hyatt Hotel
Opened in the end of 2003 this innovative and excellent restaurant showcases a Northern style menu designed to appeal to locals as well as hotel guests. The décor is a stylish mix of traditional and contemporary, and the careful cooking focuses on gutsy flavors with a savvy and modern viewpoint. Elegantly served Peking Ducks are cooked in an oven fueled with fruitwood, and duck foie gras is delicious in homemade sesame bread. Book ahead.

Li Family Restaurant – This treasure of a restaurant is owned and operated by an 84-year-old retired mathematics professor whose grandfather was in charge of kitchen security for the Empress Dowager. He retired possessing certain secret recipes of the Imperial kitchen which were passed to Mr. Li and which he features in this unique quasi-private restaurant that is accessed by reservation only and located in the hutong where Mr. Li has resided for over 1/2 a century. One chooses between a series of similar fixed price menus, eats in bare-bones surroundings, and if lucky will get to enjoy the remarkable Mr. Li explaining life as well as dinner. Book ahead and bring cash: $25-$200/person. We selected one of the least expensive meals and were quite happy. Ask them to call you a cab when you’re done.

#36 chengb02

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Posted 10 May 2004 - 10:02 PM

Book ahead and bring cash: $25-$200/person. We selected one of the least expensive meals and were quite happy. Ask them to call you a cab when you’re done.

is this US dollars or RMB?

#37 eatingwitheddie

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 05:39 AM

$US

#38 eatingwitheddie

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 06:02 AM

more Beijing restaurants:

For Peking Duck:
'Da Dong' Beijing Kao Ya is not one of the big factories, but a smaller chef owned very popular-with-the-locals eatery that features exciting traditional and contemporary Bejijng food. There is a whole 'spiel' on their menu about their less fat, 'Superneat' Beijing Duck. They carve and serve it with great finesse. You might also want to try the abalone mushroom with saffron sauce (saffron is the new 'in' ingredient in Beijing) or homemade pasta with lobster flavor.

Gui Gung Foo (phonetically correct)
This 2-year-old Hangzhou restaurant is difficult to locate and find. It is housed in a 100 year old hutong that was home to a princely member of the Empress Dowager's family. The surrounding's have an untouched-in-100-years patina, and currently one needs to walk through a construction site to get to the dining room. Nevermind, it's worth the difficulty. There is no English menu but the food was special. A cold appetizer of house smoked pressed dofu was intense, and a dish of minced eggplant in a sweetish brown sauce was delicious with its unusal garnish of chopped mixed nuts, peppers and seeds. However the most memorable dish was a simple toss of soft noodles and vegetable shreds infused with the taste of fresh jasmine - a major WOW!

#39 Pan

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Posted 03 July 2004 - 01:17 AM

Hi, everybody. In August, my mother will be presenting a paper at a conference in Changchun, and she's decided to make it a family vacation. I would love some advice on good places to eat in these cities. My mother doesn't eat pork or fish but does eat some types of seafood, fowl, and red meat. Also, my parents are not likely to want to spend really large sums of money for single meals, like $100 per person or something, and my father has to eat lightly, anyway, so I don't think imperial banquets are for us. In addition, while we seem to be set on a hotel in Beijing, recommendations of comfortable hotels with air conditioning in the other cities would be welcome (I guess Changchun will be taken care of by the conference). Any other recommendations for how to make our stay as pleasant and fun as possible are also welcome (for example, should we give Guilin a miss and stay in Yangshuo?). And if any of you live in one of those cities and will be there in August, we'd love to meet you!

I see some threads on Beijing. Are the recommendations in this one still current? How about this one?

#40 Gary Soup

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Posted 03 July 2004 - 08:28 AM

Beijing, Xi'an and Changchun will have plenty of beef and lamb dishes.

I've never been to Guilin, but from all I've heard I woldn't pass up on it. Probably most famous evocative scenery can be found there. On the other hand, perhaps you are like me: half a day of nature is enough!

#41 Gary Soup

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Posted 03 July 2004 - 09:11 AM

I've never been to Guilin, but from all I've heard I woldn't pass up on it.  Probably most famous evocative scenery can be found there.  On the other hand, perhaps you are like me: half a day of nature is enough!

Guess I should do my homework before I post! Apparently the famous scenery is equally accessible from both places, but Yangshuo is smaller and more of a back-packer's delight. (But probably fewer luxury hotels).

#42 Susan G

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Posted 03 July 2004 - 09:58 AM

Street food from vendors with carts is a good way to go.............fun, *very* inexpensive, and you'll get to have the local flavors. I especially like the Muslim lamb kebobs..........they're covered with cumin, ground red peppers and coarse salt. Beijing and Xi'an will have these.
I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

#43 jo-mel

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Posted 03 July 2004 - 07:10 PM

YangShuo is plunk -- right in the middle of those Karst Mountains! It is not a big place, but just look up and there is a close-up of them.

I can't give food recommendations, as it has been a while since I've been there, and places change.

On tour -- you usually go from Guilin, down the Li River to Yangshuo, and then bus back. I've stayed in both places, -- Guilin several times, and Yangshuo twice. I'd pick Yangshuo. It is smaller and altho the riverfront is now teeming with vendors, it is still more rural than lovely Guilin.

Guilin does have its special beauty and rock formations and famous caves.

One of the specialties, in Guilin, is Bamboo Rat -- a fox that eats bamboo. And I've had whole deep/fried crispy pigeon. Whole - but no feathers. It was good.

#44 Pan

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Posted 03 July 2004 - 09:14 PM

I don't think anyone in my family would be adventurous enough to search out fox to eat - even me, though I'd eat it if it were offered at a banquet where I was a guest. We like pigeon, though.

Thanks for your input, everyone, and please keep the suggestions coming.

#45 ecr

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 03:32 AM

It's been 6 yrs since I was in Guilin and Yangshuo and China changes so fast. But on the off chance that either of these places are still there ... a fantastic Hunan place in Guilin. It was well-known, we asked about it around our hotel and were easily directed there. If it's still there someone will be able to direct you. Near the Holiday Inn, not huge and not banquet-fancy, with pictures of Mao on all the walls. I remember fupi lajiao (fried whole fresh chili peppers), a stir-fry of bacon or other smoked pork with lots of cumin, and, on a night when my husband was very sick with a cold, a deliciously restorative medicinal soup of black chicken and herbs.
In Yangshuo, we ate all our dinners at a night market that set up in an empty lot next to the most "upmarket" hotel in town (at that time), a Chinese-run "resort" hotel. Things like pork or chicken stir-fried with sugar snap peas, mushroom dishes, greens. Obviously not fancy, but tasty home-cooked fare with the best seasonal veggies.
I would definately not skip Guilin. I think almost any Chinese city is worth a stop for a look around ... and then you can take the boat to Yangshuo and take in all the beautiful scenery.

#46 Pan

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 01:12 PM

Thanks, ecr. I eat at stalls and night markets, but I don't think my parents will, after having gotten pretty ill with parasites from - they believe - food at a night market in Malaysia. I ate the same thing on different days at the same night market and felt nothing but delectation! :smile:

#47 chengb02

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 08:25 PM

Okay, haven't written much, but here goes...

Guilin: lots of big time hotels, I would say stay in Guilin and branch out to Yangshuo (because you'll be with your parents and Yangshuo won't be as comfortable). Have stayed in the Sheraton there, as I remember the price was relatively low and the location was good. Was only there for a little while, but remember hitting a bit of a "restaurant row" near to the river where we had some good seafood. There was an area not far from the hotel where there was a lot of shops and restaurants, all priced pretty well and with good food.

Xian: Actually, western hotels outside of Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou are all pretty low priced. You can probably get prices under US$75 for a 4 or 5 star hotel in Guilin, Xian, and Changchun. The main dish of Xian is the Yang rou Pao mo, which I really enjoy, but opinions differ. It is a lamb based soup with a bread (something like naan) that you break up into the bowl, then they take it back to the kitchen and add the meat, noodles, and soup stock.

Changchun: I ate mostly at friends and relatives places, so not much I can help with. Though I do remember a pretty good seafood restaurant that is a big chain across Dongbei called Da Ke Yi.

Now to Beijing (perhaps I should have put this at the top)...
The recommendation for Made in China in the Grand Hyatt is a good one if you are willing to pay around US$50 or more for the meal. It is a beautiful dining room with excellent food, but it is very expensive.
There are two restaurants I would highly recommend that have become very popular here. One is called S'Silk Road (which Conde Nast put among its top 50 new restaurants around the world) with outlets at Lotus Lane (Shichahai) and Jianwai Soho. It serves up some very good Yunnan food with reasonable prices. The other place, a Sichuan restaurant called South Beauty, has many locations around the city now, the best is in Dongfang Guangchang at Wangfujing.
Of course there is QuanJuDe for Peking Duck, that recommendation will never change, and any other recommendations I made in those posts are still current. I will continue to think of some other places in BJ...

#48 Pan

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 08:40 PM

Thank you very much, Mr. Cheng. You live in Beijing?

About Guilin, I've been hearing negative things about it since my first trip to China, in 1987, when I never got to that part of China at all. Already, in those days, the Lonely Planet guidebook was saying that Guilin was overpriced and overly touristy, and Yangshuo was cheaper and more pleasant. And my brother sent me and my parents a link to this page. The guy sounds like a little bit of an amateur, "surrendering to apathy," but first of all, it does make Guilin sound unpleasant and not wholly unlike what I'd expect and secondly, while I wouldn't hesitate to say no as many times as necessary to get annoying touts to give up, I'm not sure what my parents will do if they're tired and don't feel like expending the energy, in spite of the fact that they know from previous experience not to trust lying touts. You could say that's their lookout, but that's true only if what we're getting overcharged for is actually enjoyable.

Also, my parents will want air conditioning but don't require super-luxury accomodations. A reasonably cool room, some drinkable water (preferably refrigerated) and fairly comfortable beds would be enough for them. I think good 3-star or even very good 2-star accomodations (based on a rough understanding of European classifications; I don't know if those apply in China) would be sufficient for them.

Edited by Pan, 05 July 2004 - 08:44 PM.


#49 Gary Soup

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 09:27 PM

Also, my parents will want air conditioning but don't require super-luxury accomodations. A reasonably cool room, some drinkable water (preferably refrigerated) and fairly comfortable beds would be enough for them. I think good 3-star or even very good 2-star accomodations (based on a rough understanding of European classifications; I don't know if those apply in China) would be sufficient for them.

Note that hotel star ratings tend to be inflated in China. 3 Stars in China would probably be comparable to 2 stars in Europe.

Your parents may ultimately feel comfortable only with bottled water. If so, stick with a reliable brand, or you may be buying bottled tap water that's been filtered but not sanitized. Aquarius would be a good bet, it's 50% owned by Danone, the same French conglom that owns Dannon yoghurt. (Of course, there may be counterfeit Aquarius out there!)

When I'm out and about in Shanghai in hot weather, I always buy Suntory bottled oolong tea. It's the only readily-available brand that you can get unsweetened, and its usually chilled.

#50 hzrt8w

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 10:15 PM

The main dish of Xian is the Yang rou Pao mo, which I really enjoy, but opinions differ. It is a lamb based soup with a bread (something like naan) that you break up into the bowl, then they take it back to the kitchen and add the meat, noodles, and soup stock.

This is very interesting. Is this a ceremonial thing that they let you break up the bread. When you said "break up" did you mean the bread is torn by hand into pieces and tossed into a bowl? Any meaning to this procedure? Would you provide more details please (I have never seen anything like it)?

I know in Hong Kong there is a Bagger's Chicken dish: the chicken is wrapped in lotus leaves, then covered with wet clay and baked. When the chicken is cooked, the clay casting (now dry and hard) will be wheeled on a cart to the table. The guest of honor will be asked to use a mallet to crack up the clay. Then the waiter will pry away the rest of the clay, remove the lotus leaves and take the chicken out for serving.

What are the Chinese characters for Yan rou Pao mo?

Edited by hzrt8w, 05 July 2004 - 10:56 PM.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#51 Pan

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 10:43 PM

Thanks for that useful information, Gary!

#52 kayswv

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 07:56 AM

We just returned three weeks ago from a China tour. While in Guilin, we experienced the most artfully presented meal of the entire three weeks at a "Tea and Drink House" across the river from the downtown area (site of Sheraton Hotel, etc.). Their telephone is 5812852, but as a non Chinese speaker/reader, we cannot decipher the rest of our souvenir chopstick wrapper. We particularly recall the soup, brought to the table in a large bowl which had been carefully poured to reveal a "yin" and "yang" symbol comprised of the white egg in chicken broth component along with an accompanying green pureed vegetable stock. Other items were presented with exquisitely carved vegetables and various fruit and flower garnishes.

#53 Pan

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 09:10 AM

Thanks, kayswv, that's news I can use!

What were the prices like, or were they included in a tour package?

#54 Jeannie

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 03:08 PM

We particularly recall the soup, brought to the table in a large bowl which had been carefully poured to reveal a "yin" and "yang" symbol comprised of the white egg in chicken broth component along with an accompanying green pureed vegetable stock.

I have this in my recipe book! It's called "Thick Jadeite Soup" and the green stuff is made of spinach. Although the book says it's a Beijing dish? .

There is even a story associated with it in the book, which goes:

"A beautiful young girl was about to be married to a handsome prince when their tribe was invaded by foreigners. Before he departed to lead his army into battle, the prince gave the girl a piece of jade as a token of his love.

The girl gazed at the piece of jade night and day, thinking of her prince and could not eat or sleep. Her worried mother made this soup in which the bright green of spinach contrasted with the white of the chicken to represent the piece of jade she so coveted. She ate, regained her health and married the triumphant prince."

In the recipe book it's a chicken breast and spinach soup, so maybe it's not the same one. Would you like the recipe anyway?

#55 jo-mel

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 06:41 PM

Pan -- That Sheraton Hotel that others have mentioned, has a section called "Guilin Food Street". It is a little place, (and it is inside)--- in the back area of the hotel. (I walked outside to get to it.) It has a buffet that features Cantonese and Guilin food, and when I was there, they offered:

Yang Chow Fried Rice
Sauted Peppers and Eggplant (spicy hot)
Stir/Fried Celery
Beef Slices Stir/Fried with Whole Fresh Chili Peppers
Deep/Fried Crispy Pigeon
Sausage Patties
Deep/Fried Battered Water Chestnuts
French Pastries.

As I recall, it wasn't expensive, but that was in '96. The place is still there. (I googled that Sheraton)

#56 Pan

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Posted 07 July 2004 - 01:41 AM

My parents and brother seem to have decided not to spend more than a morning in Guilin, because of the horror story they read on the previously-linked page and such-like. Keeping in mind that none of us speaks much Mandarin and none of us can read much Chinese, is it very likely for us to be able to avoid having a very unpleasant time in Guilin? My brother, especially, is very down on Guilin, based on all he's read about sharp business practices there.

#57 kayswv

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 07:59 AM

Re earlier post on Guilin restaurant, price was included in tour, but I would think cost of lunch was in $15-20 range.
We certainly thought Guilin and expecially Li River were among the most scenic areas of China.
Although it was a side excursion, we visited a tea farm and had an educational experience learning the Chinese tea varieties and niceties of formal tea drinking.
For my part, I was less impressed with the Flute Cave, but a night time excursion to see the cormorants catch fish was interesting. And you can see cormorants along the Li River as well.

#58 Pan

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 10:36 PM

Thanks, kayswv.

It now seems like the trip's time will be reduced to about 2 weeks and center around Beijing and Changchun, because we aren't sure my parents will be strong enough to deal with a longer and more strenuous trip.

I may have to go back on my own or with a significant other some time to see the southern part of China.

#59 Pan

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Posted 11 July 2004 - 11:29 PM

Update: It looks like we'll spend 9 days in Beijing, starting on August 12, and 6 days based in Changchun. I'm looking at possible day trips from Changchun to Jilin city, Shenyang, or/and Harbin. Any recommendations of eateries in those cities would be most welcome!

#60 bleudauvergne

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Posted 12 July 2004 - 09:14 AM

Hi Pan - I lived in Beijing for three years but it was in the late 90s. Things change fast...

I haven't checked rates but Chinaworld is a top notch hotel where we used to put visitors. From what I remember Chinaworld had a fabulous French restaurant - but that's not what you're there for...

edit to add that the Traders Hotel attached to the Chinaworld complex is a good hotel at lower prices than Chinaworld.

Another centrally placed hotel in the Chaoyang district is the SciTech hotel, which was certainly passable, a lot less expensive but certainly alright for a family visit, central to the subway and one stop from Tiananmen, easy even by foot.

9 Days is a good length of time to stay. Early in the trip, try to get to Ritan park which is near the Embassies, where in the park there's a fine little restaurant that serves traditional dishes. In that same area is an Indian place with aircon that we used to frequent often at lunch.

As my memory is refreshed I'll offer more, but so glad to see you're going to be spending a good 9 days in Beijing.

Edited to ask if youw ant to eat exclusively Chinese or are you interested in also trying the Korean, Japanese, Russian, German, restaurants ?

Edited by bleudauvergne, 12 July 2004 - 09:17 AM.