Chinese food is usually underrated in western countries. In Barcelona, for example, we can find numerous chinese cheap restaurants with low quality food. They are usually old and belong to the first chinese families that came to Catalonia many years ago. However, in the last 15 years, chinese people in Barcelona started opening new businesses, usually self-service and buffet restaurants, with still low quality food but better adapted to local tastes. The Chinese comunity in Barcelona also started buying old typical Spanish bars, so they learned how to cook the most beloved dishes for Spanish people.
But Barcelona has a big gastronomy reputation, so Chinese people also showed what they are capable off by opening expensive restaurants with high quality typical Chinese dishes, like Out of China restaurant and many others. We discovered a delicious new gastronomy and a big potential of developement. Therefore, when we travelled to China we didn’t look ony for the cheaper and ugly places, but also for quality. Here is a list of some gastronomy experiences we had in Beijing, from eating insects in Wangfujing Street to enjoying one of the best Peking Duck in the city, through a cocktail in the highest bar.
Have you ever seen those photos of insects in a stick? Well, they usually are taken in Wangfujing street, a must-see area in Beijing. I say area because it is not a single street but 4 or 5 streets crossing each other, full of street food stalls selling bugs, scorpions, but also octopus, fish, smoked and colourful drinks… It is usually so crowded that it is difficult to walk. The floor is dirty, the heat in August is overwhelming and the noice can trigger a strong headache. However, it is completely worth it in order to understand Asia, China and Beijing. Not everyone is ready to taste scorpions or bugs, but believe me, you just need to see my face after eating them in the following video. They are delicious!
In the modern Beijing you can find some of the tallest buildings in the world. For example: the World Tower. In this building you can find a Shangri-La hotel and also the World Trade Center. We were dressed with not fashionable clothes and as soon as we crossed the main entrance of the building we identified ourselves as strangers in a new world. The luxury of the building astonished us and made Laura think twice if we should try to reach the 80th floor.
The World Trade Center in beijing is in different skscreapers, all linked with a huge luxury shopping mall in the lowest floors. The Atmosphere bar is located at the 80th floor of the China World Summit Wing hotel, from Shangri-La. This building is part of the Block 3 of the World Trade Center. I explain this because it is too easy to get lost in this area among skyscreapers, shopping malls, streets…
I convinced Laura and I went directly to the reception. I asked if we were allowed to have a cocktail and the answer was yes. The bar was closing for drinks in 45 min because they were going to start serving the dinner to the hotel guests. It was enough time to have a mojito, some appetizers and watch Beijing from the summit in the golden hour till the sun was down the horizon and the lights switched on.
The Forbidden City
There are different places to eat something in the Forbidden City but we found one which was cheap and had delicious noodles. It is located close to the north entrance and it is inside the Palace Museum Store. We just had a Coke and a bowl of noodles each of us. Quick, cheap and delicious, the perfect rest after a visit to the Forbidden City and before climbing to the Jingshan Park.
In the south part of the Tian’anmen Square you can find the Qianmen street. Here is another must-see place for food lovers. We wanted to taste another typical chinese dish in a good restaurant. We found Bei Jing Dou Yi Chu Shao Mai Guan, a typical dumpling restaurant where we orderd more food than we could eat.
Dumplings are small bags made of rice pasta and filled with meat, vegetables, etc. We recommend to taste them in a good restaurant like we did and not in a cheap and dirty place. Dumplings deserve to be enjoyed because they have a lot of work behind. If you eat cheap dumplings they will probably come from a freezer. On the other hand, in a good restaurant you know they do everything, from the rice pasta to the filling just few minutes before you eat them.
And finally we could not leave Beijing without eating the National Dish: the Peking Duck. In this case we also recommend not to eat Peking Duck in the first place you see in the city. You will find many places, specially in the touristic areas. However, Peking Duck not only has to be cooked in a unique way, it also needs to be cutted and served in a special way.
For this reason we took the metro and went to a restaurant out of the touristic places. Jingzun Peking Duck Restaurant is located in Dongzhimen area in a narrow street plenty of trees. It is a residential area and the restaurant is usually full. We arrived there early and had to wait 15 minutes to get a table. People after us had to wait much longer. Jingzun Peking Duck Restaurant delivers the best Peking Duck of the city.
Usually, in good restaurants that serve Peking Duck you can watch the chef from a window while he is preparing it. Also, once it is time to bring it to the table, they cut it in front of you. It is a mix of a show and a ceremony. Definetely something to not be missed in any travel to Beijing.
A good Peking Duck needs to be crispy and shiny outside but juici inside. And how to eat it? You need to take some pieces of duck and put them in a rounded rice pasta wafer. Then put some special sauce and onion, wrap it and just enjoy. You won’t forget the experience if you go to a proper place. It is like eating paella in Las Ramblas in Barcelona… that is not the best option. The best paellas are usually found out of the touristic routes. The same happens with Peking Duck and Beijing. Take it as a tip.