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Beijing Eating for novice China traveler...?

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I've read through most of the posts here in preparation of a 6-day visit early next month. I will be traveling alone and speak no Chinese. I have traveled widely in Asia but never in China outside Hong Kong.

So....I've made lots of notes from various posts, including some from the recent Peking duck thread. (Will try either Quanjude; Made in China; Li Quan; or Dadong Kaoya Dian..which for duck? )

DTF is also on the list for dumplings.

What about Ding Ding Xiang for hotpot?

Family Li Restaurant?

I would love to hear recommendations based on personal experience and taking into mind my situation (solo; tongue tied) I would say I am an adventurous diner but am feeling timid about the language issue.

Budget is not too restrictive but do not want to be surrounded by package tourists...

AND...what places, if any, do I need to reserve in advance of my arrival in China? Or can I wait and have the hotel make all reservations after arrival? I plan to stay about 6 days, then train to Shanghai for another 5-6 days. do not think there are any major holidays during my stay in both cities in first half of April.

Please forgive what must seem like obvious questions.....thanks so much!

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    1. There is a night market at Wangfujing that you should try. It's next to the Dong fang tian di (Oriential ____ mall). It's pretty neat, and you can see all the food and point out what you want. You will get a variety of Beijing street food.

      You should get a book for tourists and at the very least, have Chinese characters for different meats. Most menus will be in Chinese, so it would help if you at least know what kind of meat you are ordering.

      1. I would highly recommend Xiao Wang Fu (Little Wang's Home). The food is Chinese homestyle with an emphasis on dishes from Sichuan. I went there in March 2005, and everything we ordered was excellent. I especially liked their Beijing duck, as it was less oily than what is served at other places in the city. I have friends who went last summer and said the food was excellent then as well.

        The menu is translated into English and the waiters speak fluent English as well. The atmosphere is relatively upscale, but the prices are quite reasonable. The clientele is a pretty even mix of tourists, expats, and locals. I doubt you'd find many groups of package tourists there. It's not really that kind of place.

        There are several locations around the city: one near Ritan Park, one behind Beihai park, one near Sanlitun, and one on Guang Hua Lu. I know for a fact that the Sanlitun location has a non-smoking section, which (depending on your preferences) may be a very good thing.

        They have a website: http://www.xiaowanghome.com/english/m... but it is not completely in English and seems to have some bugs. The phone number of the Sanlitun branch is 86-10-6592-5555, if you want to give them a call before you arrive in Beijing, but I don't think you'd have a problem getting a reservation once you're at your hotel.