The Real Food of Beijing

Food in Beijing is incredible. But definitely not in the way you have read about before, and it’s probably not what you’re expecting!

The real food of Beijing, China

I’m not going to show you pictures of Peking duck or intestines. Or tell you where to go to get the most ‘authentic time honoured’ meal. China is a lot more than just duck and chicken feet.

When you get here you might find yourself saying ‘where’s the sweet and sour?’, ‘where’s the succulent beef in black bean sauce’? I’ll tell you where, in the little unseen understated restaurants with plastic picnic chairs and tables outside, where the rice is 2 yuan and a huge beer is 6 yuan.

There are two reasons most people don’t go to these places; they look unprofessional and sometimes a little grotty and if you’re on a tour you will be going to the most expensive time honoured restaurant in a 10 mile radius.

A large beer on a picnic table outside a restaurant next to some bins

Let’s start with some of my favourites, Sweet and Sour Chicken or Pork. I seriously thought this was a British invention, very much like British Indian food is not Indian at all. Turns out it’s not just authentic Chinese, its better too (if you can believe it).

A large plate of Sweet and Sour pork with large peices of white onion

Lamb BBQ skewers. These are small squares of lamb seasoned with cumin, salt and various other spices depending on where you go. Extremely popular and famous in Beijing, these little cubes of delight have received the acclaimed “Jade’s personal favourite” award. If you step one street to the right or left from the tourist places there are hundreds of little trough BBQ’s serving these up.

9 Lamb BBQ Skewers on a Plate next to a beer bottle

Beef with Green pepper and Black Bean Sauce. My personal favourite but one of the most varying meals from restaurant to restaurant. What is quite refreshing in Beijing is that you can ask for exactly the same meal in restaurants 10 metres apart and the food tastes massively different. It gives the Beijing food experience a little more excitement by avoiding the repetitiveness and predictability of some western cuisines.

Jade sat over a large plate of beef in a dark black sauce with large peices of green pepper

Fried Mantou, small deep fried dough balls served with sweet condensed milk. If anyone has ever told you there are no desserts in China then order some of these up and prove them otherwise. Don’t get me wrong, there might be only one dessert worth trying but who needs two with how good these are?!

12 fried Mantou Balls next to a bowl of sweet condensed milk

Pork and spring onions with spicy oil. From the picture you can see that’s it’s a little shiny so don’t think about your cholesterol whilst piling this back. Nevertheless it’s gorgeous and moreish and luckily you’re always going to get a plate the size of this one.

A large plate of cumin lamb with spring onion

Pork strips with a soy based sauce with tofu squares. A little tip, if you don’t like tofu just eat the strips, just between you and me I have never wrapped it up in those beige looking rubber squares either.

Me sat over a plate of brown pork strips with tofu square wraps

Assorted fried dumplings. Find a good fried dumpling restaurant and order your favourite filling. Personally I am not a huge fan of the boiled variant of dumplings but these are just delicious.

A plate of Fried Dumplings piled on one another

SO if/when you come to china, don’t forget the little places, at the end of the busy street or slightly out of the centre. You’ll come away with a content appetite and maybe a slightly more authentic experience than you originally planned.

These are only a few of the amazing cuisines you can get in Beijing that nobody ever hears about, if you have any suggestions or experiences of your own please share with us at the bottom!

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The real food of Beijing, China



About Kev Shepherd

Hi, I'm Kev. I am currently in China making the money to start travelling the world with my partner Jade. I have a degree in Sports ands Exercise Science which aids me in no way when faced with the challenges of exploring new cultures and places.

6 comments on “The Real Food of Beijing

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  3. Those skewers looks beyond awesome Kev. We see BBQ skewers all over the place here in Thailand. Pork is preferred up north here in Chiang Mai but they mix it up sometimes. Of course I go veg here because of all the Buddhist veggie restaurants; not many vegetarians in Beijing methinks 😉 Lovely photos.


    • Hey Ryan, I’m glad they’re not just in Beijing. You’re right to suggest no vegetarians, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who knew what a vegetarian was up here! Next time I’m in Thailand I’ll be sure to compare, if they are better than Beijing then I’m in for a treat.

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