Looking at the latest TimeOut Beijing “Food and Drink” section will surely convince anyone that there are almost too many options to patronize the same restaurant twice! New restaurants continue to open along with the development of new swanky hotels and entertainment areas in the city. At the same time, traditional Chinese fare still excites and endures.
Chinese food ranges from alleyway “chu-ar” stands selling kebab-style meat roasted on a stick, to lavish restaurants with private rooms and a team of servers that whisk through dining rooms with ten-courses of delectable fare. There is an abundance of options in the form of different regional Chinese cuisines (Sichuan, Yunnan, Taiwanese, Cantonese, Shanghainese, Guanxi, Guizhou, etc.) and different cuisines from around the world (Spanish, Korean, South American, French, Italian, Middle Eastern, Greek, etc). Brunch options are also popular among the expat crowd, with those favoring buffets heading to hotels like The Westin or The JW Marriott for sophisticated brunch. Almost every international hotel offers a price-fixed buffet brunch.
Restaurants usually open from 11am to about 10:30pm. Most restaurants, especially the Chinese ones, have a break in the middle of the day from about 2:30pm-5:30pm. The mid-day break varies by restaurants (some do not take a break) so make sure you call ahead if you’re thinking of having a late lunch or early dinner.
Reservations are not usually required but is a great idea for larger parties who want private rooms, or on weekends when popular eateries see the biggest crowds. Almost all Chinese restaurants have private rooms that can be booked at no additional price. The room are often reserved for larger parties so your larger bill usually justifies the extra service and privacy afforded by a private room. It is also a great idea to book a private room if you have kids! Make sure you ask ahead of time to reserve high chairs. There is no tipping or tax at restaurants.
Time Out Beijing. Check out the monthly magazine’s listings in the “Food & Drink” section for suggestions and specials. Also available on their website. http://www.timeoutbeijing.com
TheBeijinger. This monthly also has a comprehensive restaurant listing in its “Dining” section. Read restaurant reviews and profiles in the publication or online. http://www.thebeijinger.com.
CityWeekend. Published twice a month, this entertainment guide also publishes reviews on restaurants and eateries around town. The “Wine and Dine” section will list restaurants to try. Check out their website for restaurant listings as well. http://www.cityweekend.com.cn
LocalNoodles.com. http://www.localnoodles.com. An online city guide that aims to help people (re)discover Beijing through the insights and recommendations of Beijingers. The user-generated content mainly featured restaurant reviews when first launched but has since evolved to include recommendations on places to drink, play, and shop.
ExpatPackage.com: http://www.expatpackage.com. Weekly email update presenting one cool insider tip about something in Beijing. Complete with detailed printer-friendly bilingual guides to assist even the greenest expat when negotiating the most local of venues. Humorous writing about expat life in China.