While in Beijing, I did a lot of dining out. There were some great experiences and one questionable one.
- Huajia Yiyuan Restaurant - frequented by Cathay Pacific flight crews when in Beijing, this restaurant is close to the top of my list for Beijing. With a wide variety of food on the menu and a tea list longer than most wine lists, there is much to like. The atmosphere is wonderful, nestled in the midst of Ghost Street, without succumbing to the surrounding commercialism.
- Da Dong - Modern way to experience Peking Duck, Beijing style. The mini “hamburger” variant was interesting to try, with its heavy garlic. The classic duck was classic. Extensive menu allows for a wide array of choice for accompanying dishes, beautifully photographed. I considered enquiring to buy a copy of their menu, given the print quality, typography and photo budget; it bordered on food porn.
- Quanjude - Classic roast duck. The most famous in Beijing and for a good reason. Established over 130 years ago, this is where government officials go to eat, with many private rooms available, if you book in advance. We had a set menu that included just about every part of the duck. Duck hearts were the big surprise in how tasty they were. Duck feet were edible, but not quite to my taste. The roast duck itself was classic and delicious.
- Sichuan Restaurant - if you’re staying near the Hard Rock Cafe in Beijing, keep walking. There is a great Sichuan style restaurant just around the corner from it. They have English menus (with pictures), but not much English for the staff. Very good food considering the lack of price. The staff were fascinated by Super Monkey Ball, which was playing on my iPhone while I waited for my meal. Not sure of the name of it though, so may be tricky to find.
- Local food - there were many local food places I dined at that had wonderful food. Requires a bit of enthusiasm to try some of it, but many more hits than misses. Don’t turn your nose up at something without at least trying it first. You may find something you really love.
- Hard Rock Cafe - ok, so I caved on my last night in Beijing. After many hours walking around the Great Wall, I was not feeling adventurous. I regret this decision. I thought a burger would cure my woes. The burger was average and overpriced. The service was classic American style; not a good thing. I was interrupted three times while trying to eat, each time to ask if my meal was okay. Certainly wasn’t improved by hassling me about it.
I’m open to suggestions for future visits. I’m not staying in Ningbo long enough to write too much about it, although I did stumble across a place with traditional local food that struck me as quite strange; they did not serve tea! The food here is quite good from the little I’ve tried. I am not holding out much expectation for Shenzhen; hopefully I will be surprised.