My girlfriend and I will be traveling to Beijing later this month.
Neither of us knows a whit of Mandarin. We've never been to China.
We are, however, reasonably knowledgeable w/r/t food from China by USA standards. Have tasted/understand the different cuisines that come from different provinces, etc.
We're going to be continuing on to Hong Kong later in the trip, so we'd like to save our Cantonese food for that part of the trip.
What I'd love are recs for places with:
(a) enough English that I can order food- doesn't need to be an english menu, but a waiter who speaks English or pictures I can point to would be sufficient
(b) on the nicer side. Doesn't need to be super-pricey, not looking for expense account, but also not looking for hole-in-the-wall. I recognize this might sacrifice some authenticity.
(c) anything interesting. This can be stuff I can't get back in the states: eg, food from Yunnan or Guizhou. Or, something westernized, but creative: For example, "Bei" interests me. I know its in a hotel, I know it has a western chef...but the menu just looks interesting to me. I'm thinking that might be my pricey meal.
Basically, what I'm looking for are mid-priced to maybe slightly more expensive restaurants, that I'll be able to at least have some idea of what I'm ordering, and I'd love to try stuff I can't get outside of Beijing.
FWIW, we're staying at the Fairmont Beijing in Chaoyang- we're willing to travel for good food, but obviously if we're trekking across town it has to be worth it.