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Once considered the ugly gastronomical stepsister to more glamorous Hong Kong and Shanghai, today’s Beijing is a haven for epicures. Diners in Beijing are no longer limited to street food or hole-in-the-wall eateries; even world-famous New York chef Daniel Boulud has a restaurant in the city, serving his fabulous French-inspired fare at Maison Boulud near the Guangchang Dong Ce Lu.

If a trip to Beijing is on your agenda, check out these five best restaurants for an excellent meal.

Duck de Chine

Father and son chef team, Peter and Wilson Lam, perfected a Peking duck recipe that features 43-day-old birds roasted longer than usual over decades-old jujube wood resulting in succulent, aromatic, and utterly delicious duck skin.

The tender steamed pancakes and house-made hoisin sauce are the perfect complement. Located in the chic refurbished factory complex, 1949 – The Hidden City, Duck de Chine is a must for connoisseurs of Peking duck.

Brian McKenna @ The Courtyard

Like most international destinations, some of the city’s finest restaurants are located in Beijing hotels. Brian McKenna @ The Courtyard enjoys a fabulous location, perched over the Forbidden City’s moat.

McKenna, a British chef, mixes Mediterranean cuisine with Asian spices and flavors and a bit of molecular magic to create memorable dishes you won’t find anywhere else. The restaurant features five-, eight-, and 12-course prix fixe tasting menus that showcase his beautiful and flavorful creations.

Najia Xiaoguan

This mid-range restaurant’s signature dish, braised venison, is a nod to China’s northeast Manchu cuisine; Manchu royalty were known for their love of the hunt.

Guests love the unique Beijing atmosphere, with elegantly dressed wait staff and speaking birds in gilded cages. The wine list is impressive, featuring local Chinese wines, as well as a good selection of international varieties. Try the ox rib and rich, fatty ox hoof for an authentic Manchu meal.


Image via Flickr by AHanlon

While sushi is considered a Japanese specialty, the history of sushi suggests that the Chinese were making a form of the delicacy as early as the fourth century.

So perhaps it’s no surprise that Hatsune is one of the most popular moderately priced restaurants in Beijing. The restaurant features a huge menu of fusion-inspired rolls paired with sake and craft microbrews. Guests love the unpretentious atmosphere of this well-established restaurant.

Chuan Ban

For food that perks up the palate but doesn’t bust the budget, you can’t beat the hot and spicy treats at Chuan Ban. Located near the Chang’an Grand Theatre, this huge canteen-style diner is associated with the Sichuan Provincial Government and features cuisine heavy on the ultra-spicy Sichuan peppercorns, known for delivering a pleasant buzz for those brave enough to eat them. Try the shuizhuyu (fish cooked in an oily broth laced with spice) and the lazi ji, a chicken dish smothered in chili peppers.

Beijing is a must-see for serious travelers; its ancient culture and architecture appeal to tourists around the globe who travel with Wendy Wu. And epicures can take heart because Beijing’s restaurant scene has finally caught up to its international reputation.

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Meg Jerrard is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging around the world for the last 7 years to inspire others to embark on their own worldwide adventure!  Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Follow their journey on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

Feature photo CC Harvey Barrison.

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