5 Bites of Beijing, China
Since China’s opening to the West, Beijing has become a culinary frontier for chefs and culinary enthusiasts. While a wave of new restaurants arrived in the city with the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Beijing restaurants here are classics that are worth seeking out.
Breakfast: Start the day with a jianbing (煎饼), a ubiquitous Beijing breakfast served from street carts all over the city. The Chinese-style crepe is made of eggs fried on a flat griddle and stuffed with a crispy wafer of fried dough, lettuce, and sauce. Try one of the savory treats made by the reliable folks at Shandong Shadajie Culiang Jianbing at Wusi Dajie, 2-1 Shatan Houjie, Dongcheng district (东城区五四大街沙滩后街2-1号, 86 136 5136 8901).
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Snack: While it’s a café with Western fare, The Bookworm is the perfect place to get oriented to the capital. The cozy café and bar flanked by bookshelves stocked with Chinese and English titles for sale and for loan is where many expats begin their forays into China. Get the latest news on what’s popular from the locals or the free English-language magazines while sipping a cup of tea or coffee and indulging in traditional European treats.
Lunch: No trip to Beijing is complete with trying Peking duck, a slow-roasted duck served with pancakes, scallions, cucumbers and hoisin sauce. Located in a siheyuan in a former factory, Duck de Chine’s dining room is built around a central courtyard that has three duck ovens from which Duck de Chine’s signature Peking duck is made. You’ll need a friend or two to finish the feast.
Tea: Drinking tea is a daily ritual in China. Try some at Green T. House, a teashop that's décor is as stunning as its green, black, oolong, and flower teas. Artists, models, and the like dine and sip at this ultramodern retreat in Beijing’s Sanlitun bar area. The fusion meals incorporate tea, and the encyclopedic range of tea offerings are traditionally served with flair.
Dinner: Though it’s a bit kitsch, the experience one gets from dining at Bai Family Mansion at 15 Suzhou Jie, Haidian district (海淀区苏州街15号, 86 10 6265 8851) is unlike any other. A dozen young women wearing Manchu-style cheongsams and clutching red lanterns greet visitors at the gateway to the courtyard-home-cum-restaurant. Diners are treated to Peking opera while they dine on a hybrid of Tan Family-style and imperial-style cuisine.