Here I am yet again in Beijing, and I realize it has been ages since I have posted any restaurant recs for the Chinese capital. Here goes some ideas:
Sichuan cuisine is very 'hot' in Beijing at the moment (has been for a while) so there are loads of places all over the place offering Sichuan cuisine, many claiming to be Beijing branches of Sichuan-based restaurants. One of these to open recently is called:
Baguo Buyi (means common people of the land of 'Ba', an ancient name for Sichuan), located on the 3rd Ring Road, just south of Jianguo Lu, on the second floor of an office bldg. The place is usually packed, often with large, loud parties. The food is pretty good, though their signature dish, 'shui zhu yu' (fish cooked in spicy oil) was a bit under-spiced, despite the thick layer of chili peppers on top. The menu has English and some photos for you non-Chinese speakers.
Far better is Feiteng Yuxiang, a small chain with a couple of locations dotted around the city. The one I like best is at 1 Gongren Tiyuchang Beilu (the north Workers' Stadium Road), in a very swanky building that seems to go on forever. Despite its size, you will probably have to wait for a table, but it's well worth it. The shui zhu yu here is reputed to be the best in Beijing, and I believe it. You pick what kind of fish they'll make it with, and can watch them whack the wriggling critter with a cleaver just as it's about to be cooked. Their 'kou shui ji' (spicy cold chicken dish) is about the best I have ever had.
What, you never heard of Guizhou cuisine? Ever since three Guizhou artists opened up "Three Guizhou Men" in an alley near the Friendship Store a couple of years ago this cuisine has become relatively popular in the city, and now they have moved into nicer digs and opened at least one additional branch. But the best one for visitors is still the one off of Dongdaqiao Lu just north of Jianguomenwai Dajie, in an alley on the left hand side of the street (as you go north) with a big sign (in Chinese) across the alley's gate. There are so many dishes here to recommend, but among the standouts are 'beef on fire' (pieces of beef in hot sauce served over chives on a grid that sits on a burning bed of coals so the burning chives give it a smoky taste), lamb with mint hotpot, and their ribs. All excellent, very spicy, and great with beer.
Ding Tai Feng (often spelled Din Tai Fung for some reason) is a Taiwan-based Shanghai dumpling phenomenon that opened in Beijing a few years ago in a remote street near the Yuxiang Hotel in Dongcheng. This place makes outstanding xiao long bao of several varieties, as well as other kinds of steamed dumplings (no boiled or pan-fried dumplings here) and small dishes, such as the excellent sweet and sour small ribs. Prices are very reasonable for such a fancy looking establishment, too.
On Dongzhimen Nei Dajie there is a seemingly endless stream of restaurants, mostly marked by red paper lanterns, serving hotpot and crawfish. It's hard to say if one is better than another, or to recommend one over another, since they come and go, so if you see a place that is busy, go there. Ordering is a bit complicated if you don't read Chinese, since the 'menu' often consists of little more than a piece of paper with the names of various meats, vegetables and other hot-potable ingredients on it for you to tick off. Some can be kind of scary, like fish maw and pig intestine, but if you're adventurous (or not afraid to send something back that you latterly realized you cannot stomach, like sheep stomach) then go for it.
Also on this street is a lovely courtyard-style restaurant called Huajia's Restaurant at number 235 Dongzhimen Nei Dajie. Situated in an old courtyard house, with a retractable roof to keep out inclement weather, they serve very good Sichuan, Cantonese and Beijing dishes. Excellent for a special occasion.
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