Last month we ticked off five of Beijing’s must-eat foods — and, of course, Peking duck made the cut. This time, we’re looking at other Chinese cuisines found around the city. As China’s capital, Beijing draws people from across the entire Middle Kingdom, and they bring with them myriad culinary styles. That’s why, across the metropolis, you can find restaurants serving every type of fare, from spicy Sichuan to light Cantonese. Here are three places to eat Chinese food in Beijing that go well beyond Peking duck.
This restaurant is touted as one of Beijing’s most authentic Sichuan eateries, and with good reason: it’s inside the office of the Sichuan provincial government. It has little décor of which to speak, but that’s because the food does so much talking. Though it’s slightly hidden, Chuan Ban is walking distance from Tiananmen Square and the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Grand Hyatt Beijing. Chuan Ban’s picture menu makes it easy enough to order dishes like diced chicken tossed with charred chili peppers, mapo doufu (creamy chunks of tofu in chili oil, sometimes cooked with minced pork or beef), and several vegetable dishes — including sliced eggplant and green beans — that won’t have you lunging for a cooling mouthful of rice.
In a dining room whose interior design was inspired by the courtyard house of a Chinese nobleman, Grand Hyatt Beijing’s Cantonese restaurant serves dim sum, a variety of seafood dishes and all manner of other Cantonese favorites. Although Noble Court is formal during lunch and dinner, the Forbes Travel Guide Recommended eatery’s weekend dim sum is popular with families. Cantonese cooking favors mild flavors, so the menu features kid-friendly dishes such as pan-fried chicken dumplings with ginger and leek, and sticky-sweet honey-roasted barbecue pork. More adventurous eaters can dig into braised donkey meat with Shanxi wine. For lighter fare, try the Liaoning sea cucumber with seasonal vegetables and housemade tofu and the tender steamed eggplant with minced garlic.
Nearly 1,700 miles from Kunming (the capital of Yunnan province), tucked down a hutong and with an unmarked door (look out for 8号), Dianke Dianlai serves well-priced Yunnan dishes in a charming setting. The tree-shaded courtyard is lovely in Beijing’s crisp spring and fall and, on a summer’s evening, with the trees lit up and a cold Dali beer in hand, you can almost forget you’re in a jam-packed city of over 21 million people. The restaurant’s set menus change daily based on what ingredients are freshest. Regular offerings include bamboo-grilled fish, spicy mint salad, and prawns in a light sauce of tomato, rosemary, thyme and lemon.