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Nervous Newcomer to Beijing

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I will be working in Beijing for the month of May. Although I am an adventurous eater in the U.S., I am not familiar with Chinese culture or food at all. Plus, I don't speak or read Chinese.

So, I would really welcome some suggestions for easing into this experience... Where can I try good Chinese food, but still order in English, read a menu in English? I should add that I will be working with a moderate budget. An occasional splurge is OK, but most of the time I am just looking for an every day kind of place.

Also, where can I go for more recognizaeable food when I get homesick? :)

Finally, are there any notable food festivals or other events in Beijing in May that I should get on my calendar?

TIA!

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  1. If you're looking for a comfortable, funky spot with good western food with a Chinese influence (I had mutton pizza), in Beijing, search out the Pass-By Bar in the hutong area slightly north of the main part of town.

    1. as far as original beijing food goes, there's very little there to entice a foreign palate. they are usually either crude or boring. the infamous "soy-juice" both tastes and smells like week-old vomit. most chinese man (including me) wouldn't dare comsuming it. stay away or u will regret it.
      however, beijing being the capital of the country, all sorts of goodies are available from all over china. do go with your buddies to a skewers restaurant. they are all over the city and they serve various cuts of meat and offal roasted on coal. they go great with beer.i recommend pork kidney and flat tendon. if done currectly they are a true pleasure.
      as far as english ordering goes, most of the common people spots have no english menu. so do rely on your local friends when it comes to this.

      1. There is a restaurant just behind (east side of) the Regent hotel (corner of Dongdan Beidajie and Jinyu Hutong, just east of the Novotel and Peninsula hotels, a major block east of the shopping street Wangfujing Dajie) called Xiao Nan Guo which is very accessible to English speakers, not expensive at all (given the current exchange rate) yet upscale in service, decor and food. Earlier threads have also recommended places like Made in CHina in the Hyatt hotel, a few blocks SSW of there. you can also find fast food like Ajisen Ramen (extensive menu, try their tonkatsu curry), McDonalds, KFC etc.

        1 Reply
        1. re: barleywino

          I'd second Made in China, Grand Hyatt. It offers a gentle introduction to Beijingese street food, if you're wondering what those stuff peddled on the streets are like. Made in China also prepares a mean Peking Duck, and also Beijing-style spring rolls and various noodles/pasta dishes.

          If you're looking for some Americana when you tire of Chinese food, try (no brickbats, puh-lease!) Hard Rock Cafe on the Third Ring Road (near Great Wall Sheraton).

          Where exactly in Beijing are you staying? It's easier for us to give you pointers then.

        2. I was pretty much on my own much of the time when I first went to Beijing for about ten days some 20 years ago. I recall it as effortless and filled with great food adventures. It involved entering where other people were eating and pointing at their plates. Now much has changed. I haven't been back for a few years; but I know that much is now easier, while much has been lost.

          1. Ijust found out I'm going there for a 10 days on the 19th, so I'm doing my own research. A couple of links so far -- http://www.savourasia.com/content/vie... -- very good breakdown of the different types of food and example restos for each with suggested dishes to order.

            http://appetiteforchina.com/beijing-r... has some more and great food pictures and recipes.

            Some else posted this in the Ethiopian in Beijing thread and it is very useful - http://www.mobilenative.com/index.php - put in the hotel your staying at and it will tell you what is nearby.

            I'm trying to build up a list of places to cram into my GPS so that I can find them when I get there. This isn't that easy since the transliteration of street names and rampant construction make this dodgy at best. I'll be staying at the Shangri-la for half the trip and Raffles for the other half.

            Try Wikimapia for a good overall view of the city and places, it's the most useful map I've found on the web for Beijing. It's still horrible compared to what you could find for practically any other non-asian city in English.

            Anybody out there got GPS coords for a resto I shouldn't miss? Food markets? I'll compile and share them.

            I also just read on another board that they are banning smoking in restos as of May 1, just my luck it's happening after I go.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Scrapironchef

              Can you tell us which model GPS has street maps and addresses for CHina? I thought Garmin did not have it. TIA

              1. re: barleywino

                I'm using MapAsia Mapking on my PDA with a bluetooth puck, they've got maps for a few major cities with more coming. Relatively easy to add your own POIs.

                http://www2.mapking.com/en/EnglishInt...

                1. re: Scrapironchef

                  ok so if i understand you correctly, your maps are not integrated with a GPS, right? there is no map display which automatically displays where you are with a symbol, or how to get places?

                  1. re: barleywino

                    No, it works just like my TomTom software, current positiion and routing to destination. Color maps with 2d and 3d views, even a customizable position icon.

                    Hardware is an older but dead reliable Toshiba e755 PDA, CF bluetooth card and an iblue 737 GPS puck. I've used Ostia, TomTom and Destinator software, this will be my first trip with Mapking. Asia is the last great wilderness as far as electronic mapping goes, at least in English

                    Obligatory chow content - most of the resto POI's are useless in all these packages, they lean heavily towards fast food places.

                    If you've got any more tech questions we can take them off board, my same handle at gmail.com