Great Restaurants in Beijing
Throughout my three years living in Beijing I tried many different restaurants as with my many visitors I tried to accommodate all types of different tastes so after some internet searching, discussions with Beijing friends and of course trial I have come up with a few great places to eat; most with fabulous ambience.
The Courtyard Restaurant (95 Donhuamen Avene Beijing)
This restaurant is perched on the moat overlooking the Forbidden City and was listed as one of the fifty most exciting restaurants in the world by Conde Nest Traveller. I am not sure what really constitutes an ‘exciting’ restaurant in Beijing but the private room upstairs was lovely and has magnificent views of the East corner of the Forbidden City.
The entrance doors are spectacular and once inside the wine selection is truly amazing with over 600 selections from around the world. The food was good and they cater well for vegetarians..but I didn’t find the dessert menu as good or as extensive as ‘Capital M’ but a great night and well worth the visit.
Capital M Restaurant (2 Qianmen)
I am sure all the expat Australians who live in Beijing has heard of, and been to, Capital M. Capital M is owned by an Melbournian (Michelle) who also owns ‘M on the Bund’ in Shanghai. M in Beijing is located on Qianmen Street with spectacular views of Qianmen.
The service is outstanding and the restaurant serves a range of dishes from European to North African to Chinese. My friends tell me the suckling pig is delicious but being a vegetarian I have eaten a range of great dishes including Artichoke pie and a Mediterranean mezzo plate. Probably one thing the restaurant does not have is an extensive vegetarian menu but the atmosphere, service, wine, desserts and views make up for that.
The house savignon blanc is from Angoves in South Australia and very drinkable but so are the many other fabulous options. Dining outside in the warmer months is very special – with an uninterrupted view of Qianmen – it makes for a very lovely evening – or you can sit inside in winter around the centre fire looking at the beautiful wall mural – and it’s worth a visit just to sit in the bar area have a cocktail and check out the floor tiles.
Tavola Italian Dining
(2nd floor, Liangmaqiao Diplomatic Mansion, 19 Dongfang East Road, Chaoyang)
I really liked this restaurant! I was taken there for a birthday party during my first few months in Beijing and as a result returned several times. It has an open kitchen and an amazing wooden showcase table in the centre of the restaurant. Great for big parties or take a smaller table with the white linen tablecloths for an intimate dinner.
The pizzas are very good and the chef uses authentic buffalo cheese imported from Italy. Another restaurant with an excellent wine menu.
(Hegezhuang Village Cuigezhuang Township, Shunyi District North)
This restaurant is about a forty-minute drive out of Beijing in Shunyi – so one Sunday we hired a bus and driver and went first to Radiance (homewares) to do some shopping then to Mrs Shannen’s Bagel House for a hot chocolate and chocolate cake. (which is a cafe definitely worth the visit).
Our next stop was the restaurant which is on a working orchard with over 1000 trees which the owner is in the process of transitioning to fully organic. The owner also supports the Slow Food movement which is all about removing environmental degradation and growing foods without chemicals. There is also a botanical garden and lake within the property which is completely different in summer and winter. The restaurant is western style and the buffet was very good. Desserts were fabulous with the chocolate mousse and coconut sponge high on my list of delicious foods!
Tian Di Yi Jia (140 Nan Chi Zi Jie, Dongcheng)
I found this restaurant on the web under ‘best restaurants in Beijing’ and I was not disappointed when I arrived to check it out prior to making a booking for a birthday lunch. The red front door is very impressive comprising a golden board with a Chinese calligraphy inscription which is the name of the restaurant. The restaurant’s name means ‘heaven, earth and family’.
I have since found out that the inscription was written by Chen Kaige, the Chinese film director of Farewell My Concubine.
The restaurant is located on the eastern edge of the Forbidden City. Once you’ve stepped through the grand doors and into the serene, glass-ceilinged, stone-floored dining room, the chaotic sounds of street crowds are replaced by the pling-pling of classical Chinese music and the gentle swish of goldfish in the courtyard pond. The interior is spectacular with a seven metre high glass roof covered with paper umbrellas.
We sat on a table for eight in the square central dining area which has four stone pillars that feature the four divine animals of ancient China; the blue dragon, white tiger, linnet and black tortoise at each corner. The square is surrounded by a pond where you see red carp swimming by and the walls are covered with copies of famous calligraphy and artwork. The menu, in keeping with the surroundings, leans toward the traditional; among the classic. The food is delicious and well-executed dishes here are fish fillets and bamboo shoots in wine sauce, sautéed assorted mushrooms with black pepper, pan-fried vegetable dumplings, and deep-fried spareribs with chilli and garlic. I pre-ordered vegetarian and the dishes were delicious. The ‘xiang qiezi’ being my absolute favourite. (eggplant in oil and spices).
Surprisingly (for a Chinese restaurant), there’s an impressive wine list but the prices are not in line with a casual dinner at the local dumpling restaurant.
Transit Restaurant (4th floor, Village North, Sanlitun)
This is an elegant restaurant which is divided into two rooms; one large enough for private dining and the other a smaller dining room with a huge ceramic dinosaur. We were really not sure how this dinosaur fits in the theme of the restaurant but it looked pretty cool.
This restaurant serves Sichuan cuisine and caters a little for vegetarians; and was probably the most spicy food I have eaten in my entire time in Beijing. I ordered the Sichuan noodles which were delicious; but again very spicy.
My friends ordered the pork knuckle which I am told was also delicious. Before 7.30pm, cocktails are ‘two for one’ so it’s worth sitting at the marble bar before dinner to enjoy a cocktail or two. There is a good Aussie and international wine selections and that comes served in incredibly large and good quality wine glasses.