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Jun 21, 2007 12:18 PM

One day in Beijing, going solo, what to eat???

I'll be there next week staying down near the forbidden city. This will be my fourth trip to china but my first day in Beijing. I'll be jet lagged as hell but I've only got 24 hours before I head to Yancheng, a small city in middle of Jiangsu province (great great great food there!!!).

Any suggestions on where to eat? I'm staying at the Tianlun Dynasty Hotel which is about a mile from Tieneman square. Since I've only got a day I'm only going to get a dinner and a lunch out of this trip. Lunch in or around forbidden city would be great as I'll probably be spending the day exploring around there.

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  1. My first rec would be roasted duck, but not sure if you can get the entire duck solo.

    You should head to the food stalls by Wangfujin for dinner and wonder thru the stands for the experience. It would be a good dinner place.

    For lunch, maybe a local dumpling place.

    3 Replies
    1. re: WHills

      Actually, from my experience the roasted duck in Beijing is not that good in quality... much better in Guangzhou, and even better in certain parts of the USA. The ducks available for the famous Peking Duck dish are scrawny & tough & chewy at best. Besides, I think duck is not as common as goose over there. I'd suggest chowing on some local regional grub... perhaps some CHers more familiar w/ the area can chime in?

      1. re: S U

        Have you been to Quanjude? I'd have to disagree. It's very rare anywhere for peking/roast duck cooked to order in anywhere in the world aside from Beijing.

        By the way, the Guangzhou or Cantonese version of roast duck is a completely different version than the Peking one. It's like comparing fried chicken to roasted chicken (two completely different preparations). Maybe you just prefer the Cantonese version.

        1. re: WHills

          Agree that comparing Cantonese roast duck and Peking duck is just wrong but as a NYer in Beijing, I have to say the two duck places in NYC are both better than the tourst trap of Quanjude (though I have been told that if you are important or famous the ducks are better at the main branch but not for common folks). I've also try several famous duck places here and they are similar to what the NYC places are (granted the Long Island ducks are very famous as well), which is very good. I have had similar in Taipei and HK. But no city has a duck place every other block like Beijing and most of them are not very good.

    2. For lunch, you might consider the Hunan-style restaurant Liujia Guo, at 19 Nanheyan Dajie, just east of the Forbidden City. Relatively serene on my one lunchtime visit despite the huge dispensers of "fresh beer," in two styles, in the dining room.

      In the evening, both Wangfujing Snack Street and the Donghuamen Night Market will be close to your hotel, and not far from where I stayed myself. Since last year was my first visit to China, I found both of them fascinating to browse, but of all the food I tried, don't know that I really enjoyed anything other than the deep-fried potatoes-and-eggs, and perhaps a skewer of fruit dipped in molten sugar. (If you try the version with the small, round, bright orange-red globes, you'll remember your high-school science teacher telling you that botanically, the tomato is a fruit, too.) Many of the still-alive skewered invertabrates are displayed only for the tourists, but in my visit to the main wet market, I did find silkworm pupae, as well as sparrows, for sale to the locals. One other issue, especially at Donghuamen: finding yourself downwind of stinky tofu.

      If you feel more adventurous, after your visit to the Forbidden City you might head north, to the area around Houhai Lake -- a pretty walk itslelf, once your elude the hawkers near Silver Ingot Bridge. After proceeding up the northern edge of the lake (I walked, but you can easily snag a ride), stop in the Jiumen Xiaochi snack center, at 1 Xiaoyou Hutong. (You might have your hotel write this one out for you in advance.) Although the snack center is self-conciously historic in appearance, it was established by old-line food vendors who have been displaced by the pre-Olympic construction in Qianmen, south of Tiananmen Square. The crowd impressed me as young professional, as far as I could tell; I was the only Westerner.

      Recommended: the laboriously prepared pasta called chaogeda at En Yuan Ju; too many things I didn't have room to try. Afterward, you can get a ride to Donghuamen/Wangfujing, watch tourists squeal at the scorpions wriggling on their skewers, and take comfort that you've already eaten well.

      3 Replies
      1. re: DaveCook

        Too late, I am sure for 2Slices -- but can anyone recommend street food better than Wangfujing snack street and Donghuamen Night Market? I've seen both places mentioned a number of times now -- but honestly, some of it really was not that great. It's great for novelty but foodwise, I thought some of it pretty mediocre.

        Last time I was on Donghuamen, there was a beggar that just sat there receiving rejects from tourists and locals. Some of it was also awfully gimicky (ok -- my sister and I TOTALLY fell for the XiaoLongBao with a straw....but no soup inside!).

        1. re: dai11

          There are street snacks all over the city that are great. Just that they arent situated nice, compact and touristy for most people. I would suggest getting roujiamo, ludagun, lurouhuoxiao, ma tuan, jianbing, etc. etc....

          If you are sick of wangujing and want some real chinese street eats, you can explore the alleys just east of oriental plaza and just west of wangfujing. Also, wudaokou at night and the street just south of Beishida south gate at night have a ton of vendors selling street foods.

          1. re: qtxniki

            Perhaps it's too modern for some tastes, but I'd go many, many times to "Made in China" at the Grand Hyatt. Fun, lively with separate open kitchens for roasting, steaming, etc. Very modern. Attracts young affluent Chinese professional crowd and visiting westerners. If you're alone, sit at the lively bar and order from the large menu. The spicy glass noodles were thick and very spicy. Best spice I had in Beijing. The potstickers came in their own round pan with the lacy round crust sitting atop the entire pan. Delicious. Ducks were coming out regularly from the wood burning oven next to us. Vegetables were extremely fresh and cooked perfectly to order. Drinks were inventive and colorful -- very rare in the several Beijing places I visited where the bartenders were not skilled.

            Give it a try.