Dishes you must try before leaving Beijing
Beijing has so many exceptional dishes and snacks that first-time travelers may not know where to start. Having served as the capital of China on and off for centuries, Beijing's food and food culture have absorbed influences from all around the country as courtiers, soldiers, and merchants flowed through the city serving the emperor.
Roujiamo are often referred to as "Chinese burgers". The mix of long-braised meat (usually pork in Beijing but traditionally beef or lamb) and dense baked bun is supremely satisfying. Roujiamo are often enjoyed as a cheap snack alongside a bowl of noodles, such as those at Ling Er Jiu near Chunxiu Lu.
Here is a must-try dish for veggies. Named after the Qianlong Emperor in the Qing Dynasty, legend has it that the dish was ordered by the emperor at a small, nondescript restaurant during his tour outside of the imperial palaces in disguise and was spoken highly of by him. Though made of cabbage leaves with sesame sauce, vinegar, and honey (and sometimes with black sesame seeds atop the dish), it has been one of the most famous traditional dishes of Beijing and can be found in most of the Beijing cuisine restaurants today.
Peking Roast Duck is a renowned Beijing dish with a worldwide reputation. The high-quality duck meat, roasted using wood charcoal, looks reddish, with crisp skin and tender meat, and is known as “one of heaven’s delicacies”.
People in Beijing have a thing for dishes made from intestines. Their famous dishes of pig intestines include luzhu huoshao, baodu and stewed liver. Stewed Pig Liver and Fried Pig Lungs have been around since the Song Dynasty. The stewed pig livers were served in soup thickened with starch afterward.
Jiaozi is another dish that can be found anywhere across Beijing and while there are a number of better-known dumpling restaurants and chains, some of the tastiest dumplings (and most interesting experiences) can be found in smaller, less conspicuous family eateries where dumplings are the only thing on the menu. At these restaurants you can often sit and watch the next batch of dumplings being rolled and filled as you eat. A plate of Jiaozi with a soy sauce, vinegar and chili dip is synonymous with Northern Chinese cuisine.
The perfect dish for winter, Beijing-style lamb hot pot (sometimes translated as Mongolian hot pot, from whence the dish originated) features a mild broth boiled in distinctive conical copper pots heated with charcoal, into which diners dip thin cuts of lamb and vegetables. Once cooked, the lamb is often dipped in sesame paste before eating. Like many other traditional Beijing dishes, the southern and western areas of the city have the highest concentration of lamb hot pot places.
Beijing is known for its fried sauce noodles, also known as noodles with soybean paste. It is a dish of thick wheat noodles mixed with a sauce made by simmering stir-fried ground pork or beef with salty soybean paste. All locals know Hai Wan Ju has the best-fried sauce noodles — you will not only eat the noodles but experience the ritual. It is served in a giant bowl with sauce and garnish, like shredded cucumbers and soya beans, each put in a small plate and laid around the bowl. Compared with this, the DIY burgers they offer are nothing.