Real Chinese food: 10 Best Restaurants in Beijing for Modern Emperors

With some 55,000 restaurants spreading across the city, Beijing's dining scene is buzzing, exciting and overwhelming. If you grow up with the stereotypical image of Chinese food in the West (which is mostly influenced by Cantonese food), the real Chinese food in the Chinese capital will come as bit of a shock, in a good way.

Compared to southern park of China, Beijing cuisine uses more heavy meats, and instead of rice the main is largely made with flour, such as dumplings (try Xianlaoman), pancakes and noodles.

Peking Duck is the absolute star for dinner. Special Beijing white ducks are first boiled in brine then roasted above hard date wood until golden brown. The skin is crispy and caramelized and the mean tender and moist. Traditionally, time-honoured brand Quanjude sits on top of the chart for enjoying this dish, but several restaurants,such as Da Dong, Duck du Chine and Made in China, have in recent years improved the classic fare to satisfy modern palettes.

Sophisticated ingredients, demanding cooking skills, elaborate presentation and people's reminiscence of the past have helped Chinese imperial cuisine claw back to the capital's dinning table. Family Li is the best place to try the long-lost cuisine. The restaurant is run by the descendent of the once head of kitchen in the imperial Qing dynasty. Najia Xiaoguan also offer dishes that were favoured by the imperial aristocrats.

Dong Cheng District

This two-story canteen is the dumpling emporium of Beijing. Its name translates as "fully loaded", and just as what it suggests, each juicy pocket is stuffed with hearty and delicious content. Choose from some 60 different fillings ranging from...  Read More

Qianmen District

Ask a random local on the street about what to do in Bejiing, most of them are likely to direct you to taste roast duck in Quanjude. In the sea of Peking Duck restaurants in the city, this is the most famous brand among Chinese diners. Quanjude...  Read More

Qianmen District

Little is known to the outside world of China's delicious and innovative vegetarian cuisine. Gongdelin is a great place to go to enjoy it. The time-honoured restaurant specializes in using vegetable to make dishes that look and taste like meat,...  Read More

Chao Yang District

This fancy restaurant is one of the few establishments that ranks five out of five on Chinese food review website Dianping, the equivalent of Yelp in China, and is packed every night. Najia Xiaoguan serve traditional cuisine of Manchu, the...  Read More

Wang Fu Jing

The modern and always-buzzing chain restaurant is probably the most popular hot pot brand among young people. Better yet, it opens around the clock. Haidilao is an aggregation of different hot pot styles in China – spiciness of Sichuan,...  Read More

Tucked away in a buzzing alleyway steps away from the Forbidden City, this modern European restaurant blends Beijing's past and present in a smart and crowd-pleasing way. The sleek almost New York-style dining space is part of a revamped...  Read More

Qianmen District

This elegant European restaurant forks over a selection of irresistible modern European dishes, such as crispy suckling pig and smoked salmon, together with probably the most iconic and impressive view among Beijing restaurants. This is the...  Read More

Xicheng West District
Family Li Imperial Cuisine
Photo courtesy of Family Li

This austere restaurant doesn't have a flashy sign (the door number 11 is the only way to track it), but it provides the most sophisticated and elaborate Chinese dishes you can imagine. It was founded by the Li Family, whose ancestors once...  Read More

Duck du Chine
Photo courtesy of Duck du Chine

Located in a converted Communist-era factory complex, this upmarket restaurant puts a new spin on Peking Duck. The traditional dish is served with champagne as well as revolutionary fusion dishes, such as the appetizer duck liver. As one of the...  Read More

The 126-seat Chinese restaurant in Grand Hyatt Beijing is an excellent place to hit for the city's specialty, roasted Peking Duck. In a glass-walled transparent kitchen, local white ducks are roasted in a traditional oven above hard date wood...  Read More


Meet Tracy You Xiaoying

Tracy You Xiaoying is a bilingual journalist based in the United Kingdom. She writes culture, travel and lifestyle articles about China and Britain in English and Chinese.

A born-and-bred...  More About Tracy You

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