It’s perhaps no surprise that Beijing Roast Duck is on the top of the bucket list of many tourists in Beijing. Even for people who have spent years in the city, Beijing Roast Duck is like some addiction, and if you don’t have it from time to time life turns gloomy. Luckily, Beijing has inexhaustible treasures of Roast Duck restaurants for foodies to explore.
Restaurant with Rooms, Chinese, $$$
Seriously, if you have never tried the Roast Duck at Quanjude, you are never going to be accepted to the Roast Duck lovers’ club. The flagship of the Roast Duck restaurants was founded in 1864. Its representational Roast Duck in Stove was inherited from the imperial court. In modern China, Quanjude has held the banquet for politicians from over 200 countries and regions. Roast Duck sets of differing prices are available according to the duck’s quality (from 238 RMB/ 36 USD per set). The price comes with the performance of a chef slicing your duck right before your table. If you order the “Flourishing Peony (Shengshi Mudan)” Roast Duck set, the chef will place the duck slices in the shape of an elegant peony flower. Reservation in advance is highly suggested.
Quanjude is so famous that it would be quite torturous to wait for a seat sometimes, but the good news is Quanjude has a lower-end restaurant, Yage. Located in the Wangfujing Department Store, one of the oldest shopping malls in town, it can be the last stop of your one-day trip of old Beijing. The most popular Roast Duck set includes half a duck, Qianlong Cabbage, Kung Pao Chicken, and Roast Duck Bone Soup for only 188 RMB (28 USD).
With twelve branches in Beijing, Sijiminfu is another prestigious Roast Duck restaurant. It is known for its graceful environment and exquisite tableware – even the chopsticks stand is in the form of a duck. The Roast Duck is served with three kinds of sauces (sweet bean sauce, soft white sugar and mashed garlic) and five kinds of toppings (including cucumbers, scallion and haw sticks). It is said to be not as greasy as the Roast Duck at other restaurants, and the chef uses mint leaves a lot in the restaurant’s dishes.
Rebranded from the former Beijing Roast Duck restaurant, Dadong is the new star rising among the Roast Duck brands in Beijing. It even attracted Michelle Obama during her visit in 2013. Different from Quanjude’s traditional Beijing-style décor, Dadong goes in a modern direction. It has invented dishes combining traditional Beijing cuisine with traditional Chinese brushwork and the arts of Chinese bonsai, offering diners both visual and culinary enjoyment.
While you’re probably familiar with the chicken and beef burgers in McDonald’s and KFC, have you tried Roast Duck burgers? The fast-food restaurant opened by Dadong juxtaposes eastern and western cuisines, blazing a new trail in the Roast Duck world. You can choose from four sauce flavors for the Classic Crispy Lean Roast Duck Burger Combo: original, spicy, traditional or special. The Dadong Duck also has traditional Beijing Zhajiang Noodles, western fast food snacks like fries and sundae, and its own creative snack for those who are brave enough to try: Spicy Lao Gan Ma Sauced Mashed Potato.
Stepping into the Sishitongtang restaurant is like going back in time to an ancient Beijing street full of bawling vendors. Even the waiters are dressed like attendants of Qing Dynasty restaurants. All ducks are roasted in the 230 ℃ jujube wood stove for 70 minutes before they are served on the drums used in Jingyun Dagu, a traditional Beijing folk art. Another must-try dish is Marinated Delicacies with Fragrant Sauce (Chinese name: Dachibao Zhuowukui), which is the traditional Beijing snack Pea Cake disguised as mahjong cards.
A good Beijing restaurant deserves a good Beijing name, and Juqi is one successful example. “Juqi” is a phrase in Beijing dialect meaning “upright and loyal to friends”. The chain restaurant that specializes in Beijing cuisine has Beijing elements all over its interior décor. Other than the Roast Duck, the Juqi Tofu in the shape of a sand swallow kite is a must try. You might also want to order the Juqi Fried Rice. Made just like the honeycomb briquette that old Beijingers used to burn in winter, the waiters play a trick by setting the rice on fire after they bring it to your table. The taste of the fried rice doesn’t matter that much as long as you have your Instagram post of the day.
Xiaodiaolitang is another restaurant specializing in Beijing cuisine with couldn’t-be-more-Beijing decor, but its proximity to the Bird’s Nest (Beijing National Stadium) makes it a perfect dining spot after your sightseeing trip to the landmarks of the Beijing Olympics 2008. The name “Xiaodiaolitang” means “Xiaodiao Pear Soup”, a traditional Beijing drink made from sweet pears that is supposed to be good for your lungs. The Pear Soup is a must-try at this restaurant, as well as the Beijing Roast Duck.