15 Must-eat Beijing Foods – Local Beginners’ Picks

As a combination of several different cuisines, Beijing cuisine includes many classic and traditional dishes and a large number of snacks and desserts. The following is the15 must-eat Beijing foods deserving try.
Peking Duck
Peking Duck

 Chinese Name: 北京烤鸭 běi jīng kǎo yā
 Flavor: salty, sweet, crispy, tender
 Cook Method: roast
Peking duck is undoubtedly the best food in Beijing worth trying. The high quality fresh duck is roasted wholly, tasting fleshy fat but not greasy, crispy outside and tender inside. After being served, a chef will slice the whole duck in front of you, and you can wrap the duck slices with sliced scallion and sweet flour paste in thin pancake and enjoy. Two most famous restaurants to taste this Beijing food is Quan Ju De and Bian Yi Fang.

 See more about Top 10 Peking Duck Restaurants

2. Instant-boiled Mutton

 Chinese Name: 涮羊肉 shuàn yáng ròu
 Flavor: fresh, salty
 Cook Method: instant-boil
This is a must eat in Beijing, also called mutton hot pot. The mutton is cut into slices as thin as paper and boiled in boiling water just for several seconds. The boiled mutton slices are often eaten with condiment sauce made of sesame paste, sesame oil, coriander, fermented bean curd and so on. The side vegetable for mutton hot pot is often Chinese cabbage, tofu, mushroom, pickled vegetables and so on. The pot used is a special cooper pot with a tube in the middle.

3. Noodles with Soy Bean Paste (Zhajiangmian)

 Chinese Name: 炸酱面 zhá jiàng miàn
 Flavor: salty, sauce flavor
 Cook Method: boil, stir-fry
It is the best food in Beijing China among common Beijingers. The soul of Zhajiangmian is the fried soy bean paste, which is cooked with chopped pork, soy bean paste, sweet flour paste and other condiments. The boiled noodles are topped with the fried soy bean paste and other vegetables like sliced cucumber, green bean, soybean and bean sprout. You can also add chili oil and vinegar based on your own taste.
 Read more: Recipe - How to Make Zhajiangmian

4. Sautéed Meat Shreds with Soy Bean Paste

 Chinese Name: 京酱肉丝 jīng jiàng ròu sī
 Flavor: salty, slightly sweet, sauce flavor
 Cook Method: quick fry
Sautéed Meat Shreds with Soy Bean Paste is a well-known food to eat in Beijing and is one of the classic dishes in Beijing cuisine. Lean pork is the main ingredient, supplemented with sweet flour paste, onion, ginger and other seasonings. You can wrap it into Chinese bread while eating.

Sautéed Meat Shreds with Soy Bean Paste
Sautéed Meat Shreds with Soy Bean Paste
Quick-fried Mutton with Scallions
Quick-fried Mutton with Scallions

5. Quick-fried Mutton with Scallions

 Chinese Name: 葱爆羊肉 cōng bào yáng ròu
 Flavor: fresh, salty, tender
 Cook Method: quick fry
This is one of traditional Beijing dishes. The knack for cooking it is the cooking time and heat. The mutton is simply seasoned and quickly stir-fried to maintain its original and fresh flavor. The scallion and onion added when stir-frying is to release the strange smell of mutton. It tastes fresh, tender and has a natural flavor of scallion.

6. Peking Barbecue

 Chinese Name: 北京烤肉 běi jīng kǎo ròu
 Flavor: salty, fresh
 Cook Method: barbecue
It is one of the best food in Beijing. The materials for Beijing Barbecue is often mutton and beef. Before barbecuing, the meat is dipped into condiment sauce made of soy sauce, cooking wine, ginger juice, sugar, and sesame oil. The scallion and onion is put on the baking tray first. After they turn tender, the meat with condiment sauce is put on the scallion and onion. The barbecued beef and mutton is often eaten together with baked wheaten cake and cucumber.

7. Steamed Bread Soaked in Fish head Soup

 Chinese Name: 鱼头泡饼 yú tóu pào bǐng
 Flavor: salty, slightly spicy, fresh
 Cook Method: fry, stir-fry, and brew
It is a local traditional Beijing food. The fish head is first fried and then stir-fried with green onion, ginger, garlic and dry red chili, etc, then brewed with soup, soy sauce, tomato paste, etc. The steamed bread is served as a side dish and needs to be dipped into the soup before eating.

8. Quick-fried Tripe

 Chinese Name: 爆肚 bào dǔ
 Flavor: tender and salty
 Cook Method: quick boil
It is a popular traditional snack in Tianjin and Beijing, mostly provided by Muslim restaurants and roadside stalls at snack street. The materials are ox tripe or goat tripe. The sliced tripe is quickly boiled, and eat with dipping sauce made of sesame paste, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, red chili oil, sugar, chopped coriander and green onion, etc.

9. Stewed Liver

 Chinese Name: 炒肝 chǎo gān
 Flavor: salty
 Cook Method: stew
Originated in Song Dynasty (960 - 1279 AD), it is a classic and popular Beijing China food. The main materials are pig liver and pork intestines. The liver and intestines need to be boiled first and then stewed with pork bone soup and mushroom soup; finally, thicken the mixture with starchy sauce.

10. Tofu With Crab Roe

 Chinese Name: 蟹黄豆腐 xiè huáng dòu fu
 Flavor: salty, tender and fresh
 Cook Method: stir-fry, braise
This is a Beijing dish from Huaiyang cuisine. The crab roe can be replaced by salted egg yolk if you do not have crab roe. The tofu is tender with a fresh flavor of crab roe.

11. Arhat Prawns (Luohan Prawns)

 Chinese Name: 罗汉大虾 luó hàn dà xiā
 Flavor: salty and fresh
 Cook Method: fry and stir-fry
It is a dish in Tan cuisine, a branch of Beijing food. The prawns are cut into three parts: head, body and tail and cooked separately. The tail is always fried. The head is first pan-fried and then braised with tomato ketchup and soup while the body part is first fried and then braised with soup and various seasonings. The cooked three parts are finely put on the plate. Since its body part bulges which looks like a big-bellied Arhat, hence the name Arhat Prawns.

12. Braised Shark’s Fin in Rice Wine Sauce

 Chinese Name: 黄焖鱼翅 huáng mèn yú chì
 Flavor: salty, tender and umami
 Cook Method: braise
It is also an exquisite Beijing food in Tan cuisine as well as an imperial dish. The materials not only include shark’s fin, but also chicken, duck, bacon and dried scallop to enhance the umami taste of the shark’s fin. The dish tastes tender and juicy with a bright yellow color.

Braised Shark’s Fin in Rice Wine Sauce
Braised Shark’s Fin in Rice Wine Sauce
Bird’s Nest Soup
Bird’s Nest Soup

13. Bird’s Nest Soup

 Chinese Name: 清汤燕窝 qīng tāng yàn wō
 Flavor: light and fresh
 Cook Method: boil and steam
The main materials are chicken, bacon and bird's nest. The bird's nest is braised with chicken soup and chicken breast paste and then steamed with seasonings like salt, rice cooking wine and ground pepper over high heat for half an hour. It is nutritious and recommended for females.

14. Pea Cake

 Chinese Name: 豌豆黄 wān dòu huáng
 Flavor: sweet and tender
 Cook Method: boil

Fried Chop Rice Cake (Rolling Donkey)
Fried Chop Rice Cake (Rolling Donkey)

It is a traditional Beijing seasonal dessert in spring. The main ingredients are dried pea, sugar, sweet osmanthus or honey and agar. It is golden yellow and tastes tender and has the aroma of pea and osmanthus.


15. Fried Chop Rice Cake / Rolling Donkey

 Chinese Name: 驴打滚 lǘ dǎ gǔn
 Flavor: sweet and tender
 Cook Method: steam
This is one of best local food in Beijing and a classic dessert. It is made of glutinous millet flour, soybean powder, sweetened bean paste, sugar, brown sugar or sweet red bean paste, sesame oil and osmanthus. The red bean paste or thick brown sugar syrup is wrapped into the glutinous millet dough, and then rolled in the fried soybean powder, looking like the donkey rolling in blowing dust, which is why it is called rolling donkey.

- Last updated on Jul. 02, 2020 -
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