Those who are
fortunate enough to spend time travelling around China will discover that styles of
cuisine in the north and south of China are different. In the south, rice is much more
popular as the main staple of the Chinese diet, while in the north, wheat products such as
noodles, flat breads, dumplings and steamed buns are as popular or more popular than rice
as the staple. As China's economy develops and more people move around, this trend may
change, but it is a good rule of thumb to understand Chinese cuisine.
For example one can find Jiaozi
(small boiled dumplings stuffed with meat or vegetables) in many places throughout China,
but if you travel to Beijing or Harbin in Heilingjiang province or anywhere in Northern
China, you may find many more people eating Jiaozi and eating many more varieties of
Jiaozi than elsewhere in south China.
Peking Duck has
the reputation of being the most delicious food Beijing has to offer. Eating Peking Duck
is seen to be one of the two things you are absolutely supposed to do while in Beijing.
The other one is climbing the Great
The place that offers the best
Peking Duck is the Quan Ju De Restaurant, which has outlets at Qianmen, Hepingmen and
Wangfujing. It was established 130 years ago.
At Quan Ju
De, ducks are immersed in condinments unique to the restaurant and are roasted directly
over flames stoked by fruittree wood. The best roasted duck is date-red, shining with oil,
but with a crisp skin and tender meat.
The chef cuts the meat into
thin slices at table. Then the meat is served with Chinese onions and special sauce.
Another famous restaurant
offering Peking duck is the Bian Yi Fan (Cheap Restaurant), which opened in 1855, nine
years earlier than Quan Ju De. At Bian Yi Fang, roasting is done in an enclosed container
fueled with crop stalks.
Imperial Court Food is a style of Chinese food that has its
origins in the Imperial Palace.
It is based on the foods that were served to Emperors and
the court. Fang Shan in Beihai Park and Ting Li Guan in the Summer Palace are the best
ones. 150 years ago
you would never have been able to eat this stuff, so give it a shot. It is a little expensive, however.
The most famous type of official food is Tan Family Food, which can be had in the Beijing Hotel. This is the preferred food of the Qing Dynasty official Tan Zonging, and was later introduced into restaurants.
Another type of food is that
which is describe in the classic novel "Dream of Red Mansions". The author, Cao
Xueqin, describe a number of dishes in the book and now there are several restaurants
which serve this style of dish. The most famous place is the Beijing Grand View Garden
This hotel is right next of the Beijing's Grand View Garden which is modeled after
the garden described in the "Dream of Red Mansions".
are hundreds of dishes that are medicated with such choice tonic materials as ginseng,
deer musk, bear's paw, Chinese wolf berry and soft-shelled turtle, the cream of the crop
of Chinese medicine.
The "Yang Sheng Zhai" Restaurant of Xiyuan Hotel has the
best reputation among such food. Although it has been changed to Sichuan Restaurant, it
still offers medicinal foods.
Beijing winters can get very cold so "hot pot" is a natural favorite with local people. In recent years, Cantonese and Sichuan flavor hot pots have have grown in popularity, overtaking the more typical Beijing tradition of boiling thin slices of mutton in a seasoned broth (otherwise known as Mongolian hot pot). The basic ingredients of a hot pot meal include thinly sliced beef and mutton with fresh vegetables.
In some styles,
various types of sea food are added. Cantonese style hot pot has a relatively mild flavor
in the broth used to boil the ingredients and in the condiments in which the meat and
vegetables are dipped after having been cooked thoroughly. On the other hand, the Sichuan
style hot pot is known for its wickedly hot, spicy flavor that may leave you with a
slightly numb feeling on your tongue.
Another hot pot
trend is that many places now offer "self-service" hot pot where you can select
your own hot pot ingredients, broth seasonings and condiments in an "all you can
eat" setting. Try Donglaishun Restaurant for traditional Beijing "Mongolian hot