Christmas in China
My family will be heading to Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beiijing this Christmas. We have our basic sight list but are looking for restaurant ideas. We want tradition chinese food as well as some luxury holiday experiences. Any favorites or seasonal specials would be welcome. Also as we are in Beijing for Christmas itself would like a place for a special dinner there beyond overpriced hotel ballrooms. Ideas? Thanks for the info and help!
Just a quick note, for many in China, Christmas means a Christmas eve dinner out with friends, possibly followed up with drinks in a bar\club. For this reason many restaurants have a "special" Christmas menu (i.e. pretty much the same items as usual arranged in a set meal for an inflated price). Even places you wouldn't associate with this will do it. A few years back I was surprised by a hole in the wall Korean BBQ place only offering their special Christmas menu on Christmas eve (though the waitstaff did have on festive Santa hats).
If you're looking for a traditional, luxury holiday experience unfortunately one of the best choices tends to be the five star hotels. I particularly like Raffles or one of the two Westins. The meals aren't in ballrooms but in the regular hotel restaurants.
Beyond that, Maison Boulud would be an excellent choice. For slightly cheaper options, I'd consider Blue Frog or Nola, but neither of those will be very lux or have a real "seasonal" feel.
I'm sorry I can't give you specific Beijing recs as I live in Shanghai, but just a few general pointers about Christmas lunch/dinner in China.
Christmas before last we hosted my husband's extended family for Christmas in Shanghai so I spent a lot of time thinking about the best way to do Christmas dinner.
The good news - Christmas Day is just a regular working day in Chinese restaurants so you will have no trouble finding a place to eat Chinese food and Beijing has so many top-notch eateries to choose from.
The bad news - Christmas Day is just a regular working day, so it doesn't feel particularly special.
We decided we'd have to make it special for ourselves. We requested a private room at the restaurant we chose. We asked, and got their permission to bring our own champagne and wine - no problem at all, and shouldn't be in most Chinese restaurants as long as you are ordering food, but ask first. Even the best Chinese restaurants have very limited wine lists that would leave most of us feeling less than festive, and broke.
We brought our own Christmas crackers (bonbons) and wore paper hats, told bad jokes etc, ordered all the best dishes on the menu and enjoyed a true feast.
If you opt for non-Chinese food, all the big hotels and some Western restaurants offer a special Christmas menu.
Have a wonderful time in China!
Thanks for all the specific insights on how to make Christmas memorable in China. I really like knowing we can ask to bring in good wine! We will be traveling with family and will enjoy Christmas chinese style I think. If anyone else has special restaurants they can recommend where we might make this happen I would sure appreciate them. Will let you know how it goes when we return!
On a side note , we will also be in Shanghai for several days before. Any great ideas for your hometown? Thanks.