My Hot Spots of Beijing
March 29, 2019
By Michelle C., University of San Francisco, TBC Spring 2019 Student
Here’s a handful of places that I suggest you must try if you are here in Beijing! I hope you enjoy them just as much as I do.
Beijing Da Dong, 1416 Roast Duck, Made in China – Peking duck
This is a must try in Beijing! If you are a vegetarian, I think it’s okay to cheat one day in order to try this dish. The Beijing Peking duck is a roasted pig to perfection. The skin is so crispy, juicy, and fatty that it will melt in your mouth. The meat is also very tender and juicy, they may also give you the butt and cheeks too! It’s a little different in eating this duck than what I’m used to in San Francisco. Instead of a thick bun that you wrap your duck and sauce around, the places in Beijing give you a thin wrap, kind-of-like a soft tortilla. It’s different, but it tastes better here in China and I am not kidding! If you go to the famous chain Da Dong, you can watch the server slice and prepare the duck in front of you. The second place I’ve eaten the duck was at 1416 Roast Duck in the China World Mall which was still just as good! Another place that I had tried was inside the Grand Hyatt at the Oriental Plaza called Made in China. Like always, still just as good! This restaurant also sliced the freshly cooked duck right in front of you. The chain restaurant was a bit pricier than the other two, but you pay more for the service as well. When you do try it, grab a piece of the meat with the skin or just the skin and dip it in the sugar. Trust me it will change your life!!!
Haidilao – Hot pot
My favorite type of food is hot pot, so I had to eat this while in Beijing. I tried many places in Beijing, but this one stands out to me the most. It’s also a really huge chain that has these restaurants all over the world, but this was my first time actually hearing about it and eating it because I guess most of the Chains are based in Asia. If you never had hot pot before, it’s a big pot of soup boiling in front of you that you use to cook your raw meat and vegetables. It’s a hands-on meal, which I enjoy because it creates a fun experience with family and friends. Everything about this chain is excellent! You can tell the food is super fresh and the staff are up to par. One of our servers even peeled our shrimp for us! The environment overall is pleasing and welcoming because the staff are super helpful and friendly. It’s also pretty cool that you can order your food through an iPad. Knowing this hot pot restaurant is a chain, it’s quite cheap for having such high-quality food. The meal itself plus the great service is the reason why I keep returning here. If you also wouldn’t mind the long wait and the over-hyped experience of an AI restaurant, Beijing has the first AI experience restaurant which is a Haidilao chain! I waited about three hours to finally get seated… But it was something I could say I experienced even though it was just a machine grabbing prepared food from the kitchen and a little machine on wheels rolling to tables waiting for a human to personally grab them off their trays. Still though, it was cool to see robots doing some free labor!
Wangfujing – Street food
One of the few things in China that doesn’t exist in America is the street food! I visited Wangfujing snack street which is near the Wangfujing Pedestrian Street (the busiest shopping street in Beijing). Everything on this street was super cheap. Ranging from about 10-20 RMB per snack. They had a variety of foods to choose from like: tanghulu, tofu, kebabs, dumplings, noodles, insects! I think it’s something to experience while in China since most places around the world don’t have these street markets. Even if you’re afraid to try food on the street, it’s a cool place to walk through to smell the aroma and hear the sizzling. It’s not that bad however eating the food. I don’t think it is as dangerous as what outsiders who haven’t experienced this would say. Although, I heard a rumor that these snack streets only really cook insects and bizarre animals because of tourists… Not sure if it’s true or not but if you’re daring enough to do try it, go for it!
(not the actual name of the restaurant, it’s in Chinese but don’t know how to translate)
For all you vegans out there! I appreciate this vegan restaurant so much because it’s across the street from my school, outside the South gate. They have the best ramen I’ve had in Beijing, and everything they serve is vegan. I wouldn’t expect it vegan food to be so delicious, but this restaurant doesn’t make it seem like their food is even vegan, that’s how good it is. I honestly don’t know what the name of the ramen is called in Chinese, but it’s the most popular one on the menu, very easy to identify. If you want to try something without the soup, there’s an amazingly spicy noodle if you can handle spice well or a bean sauce noodle that’s flavorful. The fake meat kebabs that are made out of tofu are also to die for! It’s a little difficult to communicate with the servers since most don’t speak English, but if you have your WeChat set up you can scan the menu, see pictures of the items, and order and pay from there to make your life easier.
Atmosphere – Bar and restaurant
If you’re looking to have a relaxing time with a view, I highly recommend Atmosphere which is on the 80th floor of the China World Tower. This is the highest bar in Beijing with a spectacular view of the city! I’ve been here twice because that’s how awesome this place is. The first time I went with a few friends since we were visiting the CCTV “Pants” building. I ordered a cocktail that was more of a fruit juice with alcohol, but the presentation was beautiful as it had dry ice smoke coming out from the Chinese designed bowl. I liked it so much I got it again the second time! The second time however, I ordered food. I ordered a Thai coconut curry chicken soup (I think that’s what it’s called), and a tiramisu! Both very delicious for it to be served at a bar, but I suppose because it’s such high in class that they need to have excellent food to match their sophisticated vibe. Atmosphere has a large selection of beverages, from shots to a mixologist, and food from pasta to Hainan chicken. It is on the pricy side, but it’s something to enjoy at least once while you’re in Beijing, plus splurging once with a beautiful view of Beijing and occasionally live music, it’ll be worth the money!
Just thinking about this restaurant makes my mouth water! I normally don’t even like Mexican food because where I’m from, the Mexican food isn’t as great as I’m sure it should be. However, surprisingly in China, this Taco bar is off the charts! Already the fact that this foreign cuisine is in Asia, it tastes like you’re not even in China anymore when you take your first bite. When I tried this place, I was already in Beijing for about 2 months. Having to eat Chinese food all day every day can get tiring after a while. To change up your taste buds and get a quick refresh of flavor profile, I’d highly recommend going to this place, especially if you love tacos. The fish tacos, elote corn, nachos, and funnel cake are a MUST! I’m super glad that I discovered this place since it’s not a Chinese cuisine and it tastes so authentic for a reasonable price. It’s also in the Sanlitun area too so it’s a great quick snack before or after you start hitting the bars or clubs in this area.