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roddy

Beijing Restaurant Recommendations

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roddy

I'll kick this off with one from me, and we'll see if anyone else bothers to add any :mrgreen:

One of my current favorite restaurants in Beijing is Mala Youhuo 麻辣诱惑 - Spicy Temptation - just by Dongzhimen Subway station. Basically, a temple to 麻辣, with classy red and black decor, a spicy mostly-Sichuan menu (but enough non-spicy stuff to keep everyone happy), consistently good service and food, and prices which aren't that far off the expensive dishes at the local 家常菜。Must have eaten here about half a dozen times in the last few months with never a dud meal - a couple of slow service incidents on drinks, but that was the worst of it, and that at the busiest of times.

It also seems to be constantly busy and has a nice buzz to it - 热闹, without being 吵。You might need to wait a while (on comfy red stools) for a table at busy periods. Menu has plenty of pictures if your food vocab isn't up to scratch.

Pictures from my last meal -

蚝油土豆泥Mashed potatoes in Oyster Sauce (16Y)

麻员外烤肉Not quite sure how to describe this - not as bacony as it looks at all. Eaten wrapped in the lettuce in the background. (28Y)

冰镇芥兰Frozen Kale. We weren't eating a great deal of spicy stuff this meal, but if you are this is the perfect counterpoint. (18Y)

红杏鸡 Kind of like 口水鸡, but with actual real chunks of chicken meat, rather than bones. (22Y).

Came to 116Y with drinks, and that stuffed two hungry people.

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Madot

And here I was ready to beg all and sundry to tell me where to get a REALLY good Peking Duck banquet. The first time I was in Beijing back in 1998, we were guests of a university president and we had a banquet that was, quite literally as you see, unforgettable. The skin was crispy, the meat tender and NOT fatty. Then, after the usual pancakes filled with skin etc. there followed about 5 courses of all different duck dishes. In 2004 I brought my husband, but we were on a tour and the banquet was absolutely terrible. Truly awful. And one mass of fat! YUK!

SO, you who have been in Beijing long enough to have tried a number of places, where is the best? What sort of prices? I'll be arriving in SEptember but in November I'll be celebrating one of those mile-stone birthdays (I won't tell you which one...) and would love to organise a duck banquet for friends so I'm not looking for the most expensive restaurant in the city. Any suggestions?

Thanks, all.

Mado

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roddy

For duck, if you want to spend a bit more, try Dadong at Changhong Qiao (east third ring road) - everything about this place is spot on, and the non-duck dishes are also fantastic. I still drool thinking about it.

For a cheaper option if you're paying, either the Quanjude or Tianwaitian chains will do you a decent, reliable duck at reasonable prices. I'd stay away from Quanjude in tourist areas though (esp Qianmen) as they're more geared up to turning over as many customers as possible than anything else.

Best duck is apparently Li Qun's, but I've never been there.

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Madot

Beijing Duck, here I come!

Any other recommendations out there, especially for authentic Northern Chinese cuisine? Or, while we're at it, what about other authentic regional cuisine NOT aimed at well-heeled tourists?

Mado

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trevelyan

Best Xinjiang food I've had in Beijing hands down. The restaurant is consistently full, has excellent Nang, and knows where to buy produce. Even the simple dishes like chao pianr are consistently excellent. I make a point to drop by whenever I'm in the neighbourhood.

Anyway, you can find it east of the Lido hotel on Huajiadi. The restaurant is on the north side of the road just past the next major traffic intersection. Easy to find because it actually straddles two stores, separated in the middle by a Thai restaurant (I believe). Well worth visiting if anyone is in the area.

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Madot

Hey Trevelian,

What kind of food does Xinjiang have? I'm familiar with a number of regions but not that one. You make it sound really good, but could you say something about the dishes you mentioned?

Thanks.

Mado

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doumeizhen

小王府, I think it is, down by 三里屯and one by the embassies.

This restaurant has a long list of simple, Chinese dishes, including some very good duck (who are we kidding, duck is good no matter what!), and a crisp tofu that is to die for.

The food and service have been consistently good, and its modern feel makes it a nice, quiet place to take your visitors in case they feel overwhelmed by the rest of China. Menus are in Chinese, English, and Picture.

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trevelyan

Madot: noodles in tomato sauces, and various types of lamb dishes. Nang is a type of unleavened bread you often get barbequed. There are tons of Xinjiang places throughout Beijing (just look for the Arabic signs).

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bokane

A vote in favor of Li Qun (利群) for duck - it's somewhat touristy, having been picked up by the Lonely Planet a few issues back, but prices are low - a set duck meal (duck, pancakes, scallions, duck soup afterwards) will cost you less than RMB100 - and the duck's the best I've had in Beijing. Non-duck dishes are respectable, but you're probably better off sticking with duck and duck-related things; the 葱爆鸭心 scallion-fried duck hearts, in particular, are excellent.

It's a bit tricky to find if you haven't been there before. Go to the intersection of 前门东大街 and 正义路, which is just east of the southern edge of Tian'anmen Square. You want to be on the south side of 前门东大街. Walk into the broken-down alley; turn right, pass a public toilet, turn left, and walk straight until you see a sign pointing the way to Li Qun.

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bokane

Oh, while we're on the subject of duck:

Years ago, a friend's father took my friend and me out to a very nice restaurant in Shanghai. One of the dishes we had was a duck that had been (I believe) steamed and stuffed with glutinous rice. The meat was so tender that you could pick bits off the duck with chopsticks; the skin melted in your mouth, and the rice was delicious. It was one of the nicest things I've ever eaten. Unfortunately, I never got the name of the dish. Anybody know what it's called?

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yonitabonita

I'll have to be a party pooper and vote against Li Qun

I went there a fortnight ago looking forward to comparing their 120 kuai duck to the 38 kuai duck that I get down the road.

I got the feeling that it was really trading off it's Lonely Planet mention. It was packed out by western tourists, and from what I could see, there seemed to be no local people there.

The duck was good, but no less fatty than my local kaoya joint. The pancakes were impressively thinner than other places I'd tried but it to me, it didn't warrant the 80 kuai price difference.

The ambience is about the same as any regular Chinese restaurant in the lower price bracket. A bit grotty, unpretentious. The one little quirk is the entrance way which is plastered with photographs of government officials from every continent who had visited Li Qun.

The restaurant is located in a hutong that's dying a slow but obvious death so it's a sad walk to get there.

But my pick for favourite restaurants is: 四海乐. A grotty restaurant with about 25 different sorts of jiaozi. They don't skimp on the quality of stuffing which is simple but good. Veggies never overdone. Meat never smells questionable. The service is sometimes slow but always really friendly. A plate of about 20 dumplings is an incredible 6 kuai, no matter what you choose.

It's easy to find - just 10 metres from the west gate of the BLCU. It's always packed out, probably because it's about the only decent dining experience in Wudaokou.

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bianfuxia

Unfortunately the restaurant mentioned by yonitabonita has been demolished. Neighbours whose premises remain standing don't know whether the owners have plans to re-open.

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heifeng

There's a delicious little dumpling place called 大馅饺子near 小营(#656 from wudaokou.#939 from BNU, technically it requires a 5-10 minute walk from the bus stop). I've been eating their 猪肉茴香菜dumplings almost every time I go, but they have a good selection of other fillings. about 10-12 yuan per 20 dumplings, and they have other dishes too, a 40oz of beer probably under 3 yuan. Usually we eat pretty full with 3-4 people for under 40 yuan or so. It's probably the only restaurant where I actually crave the food, and I'm a pretty picky eater. I will probably have to pay attention what the actual address is next time I walk by if anyone wants to know...

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skylee
Years ago, a friend's father took my friend and me out to a very nice restaurant in Shanghai. One of the dishes we had was a duck that had been (I believe) steamed and stuffed with glutinous rice. The meat was so tender that you could pick bits off the duck with chopsticks; the skin melted in your mouth, and the rice was delicious. It was one of the nicest things I've ever eaten. Unfortunately, I never got the name of the dish. Anybody know what it's called?

As far as I know, it is called 八寳鴨 (babaoya/Eight Treasure Duck). A very delicious dish indeed.

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roddy

Bumping this one as I want to qualify my earlier recommendation of Spicy Temptation / 麻辣诱惑. Was there over the weekend, and while it was decent a lot of the stuff on the menu just wasn't available, the food seemed to be lacking a certain something, and the service wasn't as good as it used to be, with dishes needing to be chased up. It's still by no means a bad place, but it isn't want it used to be I feel.

And while I'm here:

Also ate twice in four days at 饭前饭后, a Taiwanese place at 新南仓 where the new Dadong Duck is. Was impressed by this place (obviously as I went back), food and service both very good. Not too cheap at 30Y upwards per dish and the majority at 50-60Y, but very good food well presented. I have doubts about consistency - the salmon and kiwi fruit came in an inch of what I presume was salmon and kiwi juice the second time, rather than nice and dry the first.

I'd also like to plug the street of restaurants on 民族大学北路 - maybe a bit out of the way for a lot of people, but the non-central location, range of ethnic restaurants competing with each other, and customer base of discerning and money-conscious students from the Nationalities University make for both excellent taste and value. I'm not sure of any names, but I've had Dai, Yunnan (must be some overlap there, not sure how it works) and Xinjiang food here and never been disappointed.

Oh, and a special mention for 沸腾鱼乡(赛特店) - not everywhere do you get to enjoy a friendly but active discussion between a waiter who has just pulled a fish out of a tank and a customer who's changed his mind about what he wants to order - just put it back . . . can't, it'll die . . . no it won't . . . it will, they always do . . . well if it dies I'll pay for it . . . - as you munch on your 水煮鱼。 Wasn't overly impressed by the food to be honest, but great entertainment.

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cdn_in_bj
I'd also like to plug the street of restaurants on 民族大学北路 - maybe a bit out of the way for a lot of people, but the non-central location, range of ethnic restaurants competing with each other, and customer base of discerning and money-conscious students from the Nationalities University make for both excellent taste and value. I'm not sure of any names, but I've had Dai, Yunnan (must be some overlap there, not sure how it works) and Xinjiang food here and never been disappointed.

I second this recommendation! I've eaten at a Dai/Yunnan place (if I remember correctly, there are two competing restaurants side-by-side!) and it was a very satisfying meal! I remember we had chicken that was steamed using a special pot that collects the steam so the chicken is served in a "soup" that is actually the condensed steam, a plate of lightly fried and seasoned potato balls (I have a soft spot for fried stuff!), tasty spare ribs, and various cold dishes. I've been meaning to go back so thanks for the reminder Roddy!

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roddy

I've probably eaten there too. Been to this one a number of times - gets very busy, have had to wait for a table; this one just a few days ago, and I think this one - right street, right type of food, just not sure of the actual name.

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cdn_in_bj

Hey, Roddy - this is the one I went to - it's funny I never noticed the English name of the place, but I recognize the wall hangings inside. After seeing the photos I now remember that we also had the pineapple rice. How would this one compare with the other ones that you listed? It wouldn't surprise me if they were all pretty similar...

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roddy

Yeah, the two Yunnan / Dai ones I would probably be hard pressed to tell the dishes apart. Only been to the Golden Peacock one more than once though, the other was a one off. So far.

Those 香辣土豆丝 looks fine, we had a . . . not sure what it's called. strips fried in a flat cake type thing.

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gato
I'd also like to plug the street of restaurants on 民族大学北路

If you keep on walking towards the Third Ring Road on 法华寺路, you will see a Lanzhou Noodle shop (兰州拉面) that has the best lamb shish-kabob (羊肉串) in town. See map here.

There is always a crowd there, sitting at tables lined on the sidewalk, on summer nights.

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