Beijing food guide – part A


Food 1

A sweets stand – somewhere in Harbin

Ok, so you’ve got to Beijing, you bought yourself a nice “lonely planet – Beijing” and you open the food chapter.
You will go eat some Pekin duck, and maybe some nice dumplings, but Beijing has a lot more to offer! If it’s street food or if it’s those small sometimes hidden places – I will try to give you some tips / recommendations here.

In part A of the guide I will focus on street food. So is it somewhat risky to eat street food? Most definitely! and because of obvious reasons. Will eating street food make you sick? Probably not! Think about it, Beijing population is somewhere around 21.5 million people. A lot of those 21.5 million people eat this street food all the time, everyday. If they are all well – why shouldn’t you be? If the above doesn’t convince you, think about not needing to wait for 20 minutes for the food to be ready in a restaurant. You go to those street vendors and no matter what they sell, it will not take more that 1 minute!

Now, when you walk through Beijing you will see a big variety of street food, from small snacks to big dishes.
Let’s describe what is what:

Jianbing! Sanlitun area, Beijing

Jianbing! Sanlitun area, Beijing

1. My personal favorite! Is a dish called Jianbing / 煎饼 (even tastier after some drinks:)).
Basically it’s like a pancake, on one side they put egg and flatten it, then flip it and fry the egg.
On the other side they put some vegetables and a crunchy cracker thing, and on that they spread some green spicy sauce.
Then they fold it and put in a bag for you to eat, it is very delicious! Recommended eating while still hot!
The price for one is between 6 to 15 RMB, depends where and what time (usually at night in a bar area it will be a little more, and you will pay:)).

kaolengmian being made in -18c in Harbin - steamy!

kaolengmian being made in -18c in Harbin – steamy!

2. Also among my favorite street food, something which is called Kaolengmian / 烤冷面 – some kind of fried noodles, actually similar to the Jianbing, they put the noodles on the hot plate, put the egg, flatten it and flip it, then put some spicy sauce.
Then it is being cut and put in a small bowl for you to eat with 2 small chopsticks.
Also very tasty while hot!
The price for 1 bowl is between 5 to 10 RMB, depends where – make sure you drive a bargain:)


Fresh Baozi, at people's park, Chengdu

Fresh Baozi, at people’s park, Chengdu

3. Baozi! / 包子 – baozi is a kind of steamed bun, filled with either vegetables or meat.
I personally like the vegetables version more – fits perfectly for breakfast / dinner!
You can find it with eggplant (excellent!), egg, mushrooms, onions / green onions, beans etc.
The price for one is usually around 1 RMB, don’t pay much more!


Skewer stand in Harbin

Skewer stand in Harbin

4. Skewers – called in Chinese Rouchuan / 肉串.
Those skewers are to be found in more “central” places.
At first they seem a little unsafe, because it’s “too” cheap, and well, let’s face it – the meat was out there for a while.
But after some time I didn’t touch those skewers, I tried once – and from that time I eat it often, and it very tasty! (And safe, apparently).
I recommend the chicken and the beef but if you are into sea food they have shrimps etc as well.
The price range is 1.5 RMB to 6 each, depends where.

A big variety of skweres - be carful and make sure it's the kind of meat you want!

A big variety of skweres – be carful and make sure it’s the kind of meat you want!

Haws on a stick - give it a try!

Haws on a stick – give it a try!

5. Sweet snacks!
Chinese love sweet snacks and they sell them everywhere!
So you have a lot of options – don’t be afraid to try them out!
You have small haws on a stick covered with caramel and usually in the caramel they will put some sunflower seeds or something similar – very nice..! it should cost about 5 – 10 RMB at most.
Those will be found usually in colder climate otherwise they will melt, so don’t look for those in Beijing during summer.
Next we have rice cakes which are something I personally love – it’s not too sweet and is quite filling.
They come with different fillings, from red beans to raisins (tasty). Should cost around 1.5 RMB for one.


6. Milk tea – called in Chinese naicha / 奶茶.
So this is not food, but it’s a “street snack” worth trying. It comes cold or hot, with a variety of different tastes. Should not cost more than 8 RMB

Wherever I traveled here, the core of street food remained the same with small changes depending on the area – but in general, the food I stated above can be found in most places.
When you travel throughout China don’t be afraid to try new things, because for every one time you won’t like the dish there will be 9 times you will!


Food throughout China

Mobile snacks stand - to be found in most places, roaming the city. Somewhere in Chengdu

Mobile snacks stand – to be found in most places, roaming the city. Somewhere in Chengdu

Ice - cream. selled everywhere even during winter! somewhere in Tianjin

Ice – cream. selled everywhere even during winter! somewhere in Tianjin

Haws on a stick - on another stick;)

Haws on a stick – on another stick;)

Snacks snacks SNACKS..! Beijing

Snacks snacks SNACKS..! Beijing

Beijing smoked meat stand

Beijing smoked meat stand



Adam Disatnik

I have been living in China since early 2013 in the great Beijing. I try to travel as much as I can and try to understand the culture and the habits as much as possible. It's amazing how much can be learned about China, and about life, while living abroad in a totally different country than the one you grew up in. I love it! Catch up on my blog to try and understand along with me:) Adam.

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