7 Foodie Experiences to Have in Beijing

Beijing’s got the Great Wall, Forbidden City and the Summer Palace. It is certainly on the map for tourists looking to explore China and all of its history. The city is a hot spot for culture, sightseeing and the Asian way of life too. While these reasons for visiting tend to steal the spotlight, many don’t realize until they arrive that Beijing is actually a foodie destination as well. If you want to sample traditional Chinese food, local cuisine, strange snacks and dishes from prominent cultures within China, make some room on the itinerary for eating your way around Beijing. 

#1 Snacks at Donghuamen Night Market

This one has got to be put at the top of the list as it’s perhaps the strangest and most novel place to sample snacks in the city. Without the distraction of souvenir stalls and t-shirt shops, Donghuamen is an unusual sight, lit up and lined with vendors selling some of the most disgusting, scary and interesting looking snacks you may have ever seen. From scorpions on sticks, dried and edible starfish and deep fried spiders to smelly tofu, snake, squid on sticks and chicken hearts, you are bound to discover something you’ve never tasted before.

Flickr.com

Source: Flickr.com

#2 Eat at The Poo Restaurant

An example of the city’s more quirky side, the House of Poo restaurant offers a dining experience that is truly unique. Guests pull up to their tables on Western toilet shaped seats and meals like beef curry are served in mini toilet bowls right on the table.

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Some items like the mashed potatoes are actually shaped like poo themselves and you will have to get over the visual appearance to be able to enjoy them.

http://english.cri.cn/8706/2012/07/02/1942s709713.htm

Source: CRI

#3 Eat Vegetarian Food by The Llama Temple

Even full blown meat eaters can appreciate the taste and creative preparation of the vegetarian food in restaurants surrounding the Llama Temple. As this temple is a place representing Buddhism, the neighborhood around it has become a gathering place for visiting Buddhists and monks who adhere to a vegetarian diet. Take a walk around the neighborhood and pop into one of the clearly labeled restaurants for lotus root dishes, green vegetables and mushroom meals that taste pretty close to actual meat.

Flickr.com

Source: Flickr.com

#4 Try Peking Duck at Hua’s Courtyard Restaurant

Peking Duck is the number one Beijing specialty that you should try.  Prepared and eaten since the Imperial era, it has become one of China’s most famous and sought after dish. It’s characterized by its crispy and thin skin and is eaten with cucumber, scallion, a sweet bean sauce and is accompanied by savory pancakes. Known as one of the best places to try the dish, Hua’s Courtyard Restaurant is a good place to start if you want to find the best version of Peking Duck in Beijing.

Flickr.com

Source: Flickr.com

#5 Have Dinner at The Mao Restaurant

Yet another interesting take on dining experiences, this Mao-era establishment offers a distinctly Chinese and once in a lifetime chance to taste food back in time. The waitresses dress in army uniforms and arm bands and make sure to state that they promise to Mao that they will serve their customers to the best of their abilities.  The décor is full of books, artworks and statues that depict the Mao era and the staff often do a loyalty dance for diners. It’s certainly an intriguing way to taste some traditional Chinese cuisine.

Flickr.com

Source: Flickr.com

#6 Try Mongolian Food at the Mandehai Mongolian Restaurant

A close neighbor to China, Mongolia and its food culture have seemed to cross borders into Beijing. In fact, Mongolian cuisine can be found in places all around the country and is a way to sample what many Mongolian Chinese citizens eat on a daily basis. Try the generous portions of lamb and beef as well as the flat noodles and meat pies.

Flickr.com

Source: Flickr.com

#7 Visit The Niujie Muslim Snack Street

Located on Niujie street, this market is well known for its ethnic community and mosque which is actually the oldest in all of Beijing. Here is where visitors can get a taste of some of the Muslim food that is actually a prominent sect of Chinese cuisine. Try the hand pulled noodle soups, pastries and mutton dishes with rice. 

Flickr.com

Source: Flickr.com

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Shannon Ullman

Hey! I'm a published American travel blogger and teacher. My travel writing has been featured on Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Matador Network and Thought Catalog. I spent over a year living and traveling around China while I taught English there. I have also visited dozens of other countries around the world.