Home to Sanlitun, Wangjing and the 798 Art Zone, the Chaoyang district contains some of Beijing’s hottest neighbourhoods. These are the top 10 restaurants in this corner of the Chinese capital.
Duck de Chine
Peking duck is Beijing’s signature dish, and according to a vote by locals, this upscale restaurant prepares the best in town. Situated inside the 1949 The Hidden City complex, Duck de Chine roasts its duck over aged date tree wood, which infuses the crispy skin with a sweet fruity flavour. The slicing of the duck is a show in itself, and just wait until you sink your teeth into the paper-thin pancake loaded with roasted fowl, spring onions, cucumbers and a glossy hoisin sauce.
Soaring above the embassies of Sanlitun, the Four Seasons is one of Beijing’s most exclusive hotels – and it boasts a luxurious restaurant to match. With the dimly-lit ambience of an old-school gentleman’s club, Cai Yi Xuan dishes up Michelin-starred Cantonese cuisine like soy-braised pork belly with abalone and black truffle sauce, steamed vegetable dumplings with scallops and mushrooms, and yellow mustard cabbage rolls with spicy sea whelk.
When East German architects built a complex of Bauhaus-style military factories in the Dashanzi neighbourhood in the 1950s, they never would have imagined they were laying the foundations for one of Beijing’s trendiest neighbourhoods in the new millennium. But the old warehouses are now filled with contemporary galleries, including this restaurant, the brainchild of avant-garde artist Lizi Mao. Liao Ge Zi still hosts exhibitions, adding a colourful backdrop to the modern Western dishes coming out of the kitchen.
Sharing a huge bowl of hot pot is a Chinese culinary institution, and nowhere serves this Sichuan speciality quite like Haidilao, which has more than 300 locations all over China, as well as outlets in London, California and across Asia. This one in the Xujie Mansion is one of the most popular, where you’ll join a long queue while you wait for your hand-made noodles in a steaming bowl of broth.
Sanlitun’s Nali Patio is loaded with stylish bars and eateries across the many levels of its Spanish-inspired hacienda-style space, but Mosto is a standout. This Latin American restaurant has been one of Beijing’s most fashionable places to eat since it opened in 2008, serving contemporary dishes like the classic grilled beef tenderloin, foie gras and saffron risotto, and duck confit salad to an upscale international crowd.
Sitting in the shadow of the Temple of the Sun, Opera Bombana is the Beijing chapter of Italian chef Umberto Bombana’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant empire. Bombana prides himself on his simple, modern interpretation of traditional Italian cuisine, as well as his liberal use of truffles – signatures include the roasted scallop in celery foam, or the home-made tagliolini soaked in butter, parmigiana and black truffle.
Yunnanese cuisine isn’t for everyone – the southern Chinese province uses exotic ingredients like wild herbs and mushrooms, insects, flowers and algae – but the Middle 8 chain have introduced these authentic flavours to a young stylish crowd in China’s capital. You’ll spot Middle 8 eateries all over Beijing and the Sanlitun franchise is one of its flagships, occupying prime real estate in the glitzy Taikoo Li shopping mall.
The residential Wangjing neighbourhood is renowned as Beijing’s ‘Little Korea’, so it’s no surprise that Wangjing’s Kirin Place plates up the best fried chicken in the city. Vons Chicken is one of the most popular chook joints in the shopping plaza, serving six different types of fried chicken alongside Korean classics like pork stir fry and kimchi in a rowdy late-night venue.
There’s no shortage of mediocre pizza and pasta joints in the 798 Art District, but this isn’t one of them. Old Factory occupies a converted warehouse plastered with old-school Communist work slogans painted way back in the 1950s, offering diners a glimpse into Dashanzi’s former life while they’re tucking into a crowd-pleasing menu of Chinese and Italian favourites.
Bar, Restaurant, Hotel Restaurant, Cocktails, Wine, Beer
Surrounded by Beijing’s very modern skyscrapers, Country Kitchen serves traditional Northern Chinese food. With decor inspired by a simple village restaurant but a menu befitting the five-star luxury of the Rosewood Hotel, Country Kitchen puts an elegant spin on the humble dishes of Shaanxi and the Great Wall regions such as sticky Biang Biang noodles, roasted Mongolian lamb, and the decadent ‘lost recipes’ loaded with pork belly.
You may have tried hot pot. You may have even tried rice porridge (congee). But have you ever tried them both together? Zhen Zi Wei is a Cantonese hot pot and congee restaurant. The typical vat of hot broth is replaced with a warm bowl of rice porridge. Order an array of seafood and veggies to cook in the congee – the rice will be flavourful and delicious by the end, and should definitely not be left uneaten. Other more traditional hot pot options are the pork bone, papaya peanut and Southeast Asian soups.