How to Eat Like a Local in Beijing
Show off your knowledge of the local cuisine in Beijing next time you plan on bringing a friend. Even if you have limited knowledge from your own experiences you can show a friend how the locals eat with a little cheat sheet on where to go. Here's just a taste of what Beijing has to offer and where the locals come back to again and again.
Quanjude, Peking Duck
There is perhaps no place in the world that serves up a Peking Duck like Quanjude. Established in 1864, it is definitely a favorite of tourists, but the locals are proud of this legendary restaurant. Its flagship restaurant is located on Qianmen Street in the Chongwen District with many other branches throughout Beijing. Quanjude has served many dignitaries from more than 200 countries.
Mr. Shi's, Dumplings
The best in dumplings and a favorite among locals is Mr. Shi's. You can order your dumplings either boiled or pan-fried and choose from vegetarian, pork, or shrimp fillings. Mr. Shi's is always packed with locals for the good food and good prices. You can fill up fast on the cheap and will find yourself coming back again and again. This is a great place to show a friend how to eat like a local without breaking the bank.
Street Food, Baozi on Xinzhongjie
Locals flock to street vendors for some of the best, and cheapest, food in Beijing. From lamb kabobs to squiggly scorpions and starfish on a stick, there is much to choose from for the adventurous palate. You might want to start out with something less challenging for breakfast, such as baozi, a bun filled with pork, vegetables, and other tasty delights. One of the most popular stands for baozi can be found on Xinzhongjie.
Street Food, Donghuamen Night Market, Northwest of Wangfujing Street
For lunch and dinner, take your unsuspecting friend to the Donghuamen night market for the more exotic fare. Though the market is a local favorite, it does get busy with a lot of curious tourists. Here you can find foods tailored to the Western palate and a wide variety of foods representing the many cultures of China. The lamb kabobs and pita bread stuffed with meat are sure to please. If you're more adventurous, you can try squid, grasshoppers, and those squiggly scorpions and starfish.
There is plenty for the sweet tooth at the Donghuamen Night Market such as fried pancakes, bananas, and a big favorite among the locals, tang hu lu. This super sweet treat is comprised of several Hawthorne fruits on a stick which is coated in thick and sticky caramel. You'll spend a good amount of time working through the caramel and ultimately trying to get it out of your teeth, but it's worth the trouble. It's a great way to get that lasting taste of scorpion out of your mouth.
Now you can confidently show your friend around Beijing and pride yourself in showing him how the locals eat as though you've lived there for years. Along the way, you'll surely come to know the best of Beijing.