Great places to grab a bite in Beijing’s CBD
Beijing’s city centre spans almost four square kilometres and includes some of China’s most iconic structures such as the CCTV Headquarters and top business hotels and accommodation such as Millennium Residences Beijing. It’s a buzzy district with a range of dining options. But when you’re in a crunch for lunch, these are the best places to eat – serving local must-tries, healthy options or international favourites.
The local cuisine of China’s capital, which is called Jing, Mandarin or Peiping cuisine, is the result of many centuries of culinary influences from myriad regional Chinese cuisines. The Emperor’s Kitchen, or food crafted inside the Forbidden City, proved to be a major influence on Beijing food as we know it, as were Shandong, Huaiyang and Chinese Islamic cuisines. The variety of food in this city is wide – from premium recipes fit for blue bloods to wallet-friendly street eats.
For a taste of the vibrant street food scene, visit the world-famous Guijie Street, which is known to locals as Ghost Street. This avenue, which is decorated with red lanterns overhead and spans over one kilometre, is populated with more than 100 restaurants and food stalls that serve some of Beijing’s best-known eats. This spirited street is almost always bustling, even into the early hours of the morning. For a taste of Sichuan-style street food, make a beeline for Malatang, which specialises in various skewers such as sausages, vegetable, and fish balls served in a piping hot and piquant broth. Or lunch like a local and opt for the popular midday meal of zha jiang mian from one of the street’s food stalls. This humble dish includes hand-made noodles topped with fresh vegetables like cucumber and carrots as well as minced pork in soybean paste.
Credit: 99 Dishes
A trip to Beijing isn’t complete without indulging in roast duck. If duck is on your list, a visit to the award-winning Dadong Roast Duck is a must. It’s here lean ducks are served. This translates into tastier flesh and crispier skin. If you order a whole duck, it will be carved table-side and served with crepes and the traditional condiments of sugar, cucumbers, green onions and hoisin sauce. If you have a little more midday time, venture to Liqun Roast Duck Restaurant, a traditional, rustic hidden courtyard restaurant which, some say, serves the best roast duck in Beijing. This Anthony Bourdain-approved eatery roasts their ducks whole with a deep-brown molasses glaze. If a simple roast duck doesn’t cut it, you can order up a slew of duck parts like hearts, gizzards and de-boned feet.
Liqun Roast Duck Restaurant. Credit: Ferdinand Tan
Beijing’s mega metropolis is highly cosmopolitan, with several expatriates adding international flavours to the local food scene. Ganges Indian Restaurant, which has several branches over the city, has one that caters to the business crowds at shopping mall The Place, a stone’s throw away from the World Trade Commercial Building. Take advantage of the restaurant’s value-for-money weekday lunch buffet which offers a plethora of authentic regional Indian cuisine such as flavoursome curries, meats hot off the tandoor and house-made naan and roti.
Credit: Ganges Indian Restaurant
Located in Ritan Park, which is a much-welcomed green space in the centre of the CBD, is German restaurant Schindlers Tankstelle. Nosh on traditional German dishes at budget-friendly prices such as an assortment of German sausages, house-made pickles and wiener schnitzel, and wash it all down with a pint of Franziskaner Weissbier or Erdinger. Its outdoor patio, which is truly unique in this concrete jungle, is especially beautiful come spring or summer. Serving up Italian eats, on the other hand, is Millennium Residences Beijing‘s MRL Restaurant. This ground-floor eatery offers fine food prepared by chef Figo Yuan alongside a selection of some of the finest European wines. Make sure to avail yourself of their special three-course lunch set, which features a soup of the day, a fresh garden salad and a seasonal main course.
Schindlers Tankstelle. Credit: Jemal Drame
Located in the heart of the CBD in Central Park is Obentos, an eatery dedicated to serving nutritionally balanced Japanese-inspired food. Offered here are plated meals, food on the go, as well as a delivery service. The salads, sushi rolls and soups are vitamin- and nutrient-packed.
Also located at The Place is the CBD outlet of popular casual health-forward chain MOKA Bros. Perfect for a quick, health-giving meal, this eatery serves fresh fare low in sugar and salt, and free of preservatives and additives. Their internationally inspired, colourful menu is populated with vibrant salads, wraps, sandwiches, crepes and ‘power bowls’. Don’t miss the veggie-filled Red Rice Crunch, a wholesome combination of red rice, red beans, red onion, corn, avocado and tomato or the Smoked Salmon Avocado Crepes served with jalapenos and chive cream sauce.
Whether you’re in town for a quick business trip or on a vacation, this city’s CBD offers a range of options for every palate. This both historic and cosmopolitan capital offers a tasting trail through Beijing’s iconic eats, a diverse array of authentic international cuisines and healthy options to keep it balanced.