In Beijing, more often than not it’s the more affordable restaurants that cook up the most satisfying food. Check out the best budget restaurants in the city where you can eat out for no more than £10 per head.
Lanzhou noodles joints can be found all over the city, and for good reason: Gansu beef noodle soup is the epitome of comfort food. But for an elevated experience at a reasonable price, Bei 27 Hao is worth seeking out and waiting for. Starkly decorated, the small restaurant runs a busy trade, with menu highlights including the saozi mian (noodles with minced pork with dried bean curd) and niangpi (thick wheat noodles doused in sesame and chilli sauce).
Shaxian Delicacies is a must-try for budget-conscious travellers, and with a Shaxian located on almost every block in Beijing – marked by the brand’s recognisable Pacman logo – this shouldn’t be hard. The humble restaurant serves Fujian fare at unbeatable prices. The noodles with peanut sauce dish is sinfully good – and a steal at just 6 yuan (or less than £1) – while the wonton noodle soup is just as delicious and similarly priced.
Beijing cuisine was to a great extent influenced by Shandong cuisine, which explains why there are so many well-established Shandong restaurants in the capital. One of the most popular is Taihexian, a budget restaurant that specialises in Shandong seafood dishes along with classics such as Dezhou grilled chicken. Known for its liberal use of garlic, salt and vinegar, Shandong food is big on flavour yet lighter than many other Chinese styles. Check out Taihexian for a crash course on the origins of modern northern cuisine.
The restaurant became popular online recently for its delicious Japanese unadon at a surprisingly affordable price (seriously, most eel rice dishes are pushing 100 yuan or £11 in the capital). Eel’s Love also serves up yummy Japanese side dishes and desserts like egg rolls, miso soup, and sakura pudding. Found in several locations across the city, it is always packed with hungry customers during dining hours. This venue, located in the gigantic Joy City shopping mall in Xidan, is one of the more popular branches.
There’s no better place to get your snack on and indulge in a bit of local culture than at Huguosi Snacks. This traditional Beijing snack bar began at the Huguosi Temple Fair, a centuries-old market where vendors would sell snacks like aiwowo (a sweet cone-shaped sticky rice cake), lvdagunr (steamed glutinous rice rolls filled with red bean paste), and wandouhuang (pea-flour cake). Huguosi is now a chain with dozens of branches all over Beijing. Selling more than 80 types of Beijing snacks, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Green Tea is the go-to budget restaurant among locals. The restaurant specialises in Hangzhou cuisine and has dozens of branches in Beijing. Its signature dish, ma po dofu, is priced at just 8 yuan (less than £1). Ordering is done by ticking dishes off a sheet of paper. Although the menu is only written in Chinese, you could do a lot worse than randomly picking dishes as you eat, considering the quality and value of the food.
Thanks to Xiao Sushi, you can enjoy Japanese sushi and freshly cut sashimi without putting a dent in your wallet. The chain restaurant has various locations around Beijing, each with a welcoming homely ambience. While sushi is obviously the star of the show here, the restaurant also offers a scrumptious selection of Japanese snacks and desserts, such as green tea, daifuku and seaweed.
This small restaurant is hidden in an old residential compound near 798 Art District and can only host around 10 people at a time. However, the simple decor and carefully cooked dishes make it a reputed restaurant among experienced food lovers. The seafood dumplings, stewed minced pork with rice, and homemade plum wine are among the must-try items. Tanch Studio is a great place to cosy up after a day of gallery hopping.
With multiple branches strategically located around subway stations and off busy hutongs, Suzuki Kitchen is a reliable choice for a hearty, filling meal. The restaurant cooks up classic Japanese fare, including curries, rice bowls and udon noodles. Suzuki’s relaxing environment offers a respite from the chaotic capital while the wide range of options, from meal sets to the sukiyaki hot pot, make it an ideal spot for solo diners and groups alike.
Xuanwu Xiaoyuan Shuanrou (or Xuanwu Courtyard Hotpot) is located in a traditional Chinese courtyard house opposite the west gate of the Grand View Garden (Daguanyuan), a garden inspired by the Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber. The restaurant specialises in old-Beijing copper-mutton hotpot. Choose between hand-cut or machine-cut mutton, beef slices and a variety of side dishes and snacks to cook in the steaming hot broth. It’s the perfect antidote to a freezing winter.
Beijing Pie serves a local version of the beloved western classic in the form of a stuffed meat pancake (roubing). Take your pick from beef, pork or duck bing and dip it in vinegar and chilli for a simple yet delicious snack. Light and flavourful, the bing are a perfect accompaniment to the restaurant’s other traditional northern dishes such as kungpao chicken and hot and sour soup. A bright and tidy decor adds to Beijing Pie’s charm.
This gastropub was opened by three overseas students who returned to celebrate Chinese rice wines. Located near the buzzing Nanluguxiang alley, a 13th-century hutong-turned-bar street, this cosy venue has dozens of different kinds of rice wine to try. Pair the homemade peach blossom wine with the rice and braised pork.
This article is an updated version of a story created by Fran Lu.
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