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Seven foods and drinks you must try in Beijing

Seven foods and drinks you must try in Beijing

Beijing was our first introduction to Chinese food during our travels and a huge welcome after the more limited Mongolian cuisine.

Beijing food set the bar high for our expectations of food in China! Here’s our 7 favourite foods we went China crazy for in Beijing:


Duck is Beijing’s signature dish.  It is affectionally referred to using Beijing’s former name: ‘Peking’ duck.

In Chinese restaurants abroad, ‘crispy aromatic duck’ is a popular dish with chopped up duck served in a pancake with sweet plum sauce and sliced cucumber and spring onion pieces.  This is tasty, but trying it at its home town in Beijing is even more wow:

Trying Peking duck, a sort of crispy duck, in Beijing
Eating crispy duck pancakes with our Beijing friend, Sean

We quickly learnt that the Chinese eat every part of the duck, including the feet and the head:

Trying cooked duck feet in Beijing
Stefan trying and not really enjoying duck feet
Trying cooked duck head as part of the Peking duck in Beijing
“One duck head for table 4 please!” in Beijing


Hot Pot is a method of cooking and serving food. You have a metal pot in the centre of your table with a simmer pre made broth in front of you, into which you place various pieces of meat and vegetables on sticks to cook.

The Beijing variant of hot pot is simply a pot of boiling water in front of you. You place your sticks of meat or vegetables to cook inside the boiling water pot then once cooked, you place your cooked food into a tasty sauce to cool it down, flavour it and then you eat it:


The most popular type of hot pot is from the Sichuan province of China, well known for its spicy (and very tasty) flavours.

Sometimes Sichuan hot pot is served with two different broths:

Trying Sichuan hot pot with two broths in Beijing
Sebastien enjoying Sichuan hot pot (served with two broths) in Beijing

And other times it is served with more broths:

Trying Sichaun hot pot served with several pre-made broths in Beijing
Two greedy boys about to go face down in their steamy Sichaun hot pot (served with several pre-made broths)


Dumplings can be found anywhere in China.  However, we found that they were particularly popular in the Beijing backstreets where you could buy a dozen for only 10 yuan (£1) at any time of the day (pork with fennel being a popular filling):

Freshy made dumplings sold in Beijing's hutongs
Delicious freshly made dumplings sold in Beijing’s hutongs

This made these two greedy boys extremely happy:

Trying freshly made steamed dumplings in Beijing
Two very happy greedy boys eating dumplings in Beijing


Beijing has a few other quirky snacks such as chicken feet which are sold in every good supermarket:

Chicken feet sold in Beijing supermarkets
Fancy a snack? Why not get some chicken feet sold in all good Beijing supermarkets!

And also pig feet which can be marinaded in a delicious sauce and barbecued:

Trying barbecued pig's feet in Beijing
Stefan sampling barbecued pig’s feet


Another Beijing snack was a type of desert called “douzhi”.  This is made from soy bean but smells and tastes very, er, “strong”:

Tasting dou zhi snack in Beijing
Sebastien trying and not really enjoying “dou zhi” at the Summer Palace in Beijing


Whilst exploring Beijing’s hutongs, we noticed many shops and kiosks selling small cute ceramic bottles with a printed paper top and held together with an elastic band.

They are nonetheless delicious and are welcome after eating a spicy hot pot dish.

Tasting Old Beijing Yoghurt
Stefan trying tasty Old Beijing Yoghurt n the hutongs of Beijing


Baijiu is a strong (around 40-60%) and clear alcoholic drink made from either wheat or rice. “Bai” means “white” and “jiu” means “alcohol”:

This is the most popular alcoholic drink in China (and after trying it, we now appreciate why it is popular only in China and nowhere else!)

Trying Baijiu drink in Beijing
Trying and not really taking to Baijiu drink in Beijing

Baijiu is sold everywhere in Beijing and supermarkets had large rows devoted to it. Unfortunately we didn’t take to baijiu very well and had a very, er, strong smell.  Perhaps it’s better when used for cooking to add flavour.

For more, watch our China travel video as we ate our way from Beijing in the North all the way to the south via Pingyao, Xi’An, Shanghai, Yangshuo through to Shangri-La:

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Sebastien is the co-founder, editor and author of He is a tech geek, a total travel nerd and a food enthusiast. He spends the majority of his time planning Nomadic Boys' travels meticulously right down to the minute details. Sebastien has travelled to over 80 countries with his partner in crime and the love of his life, Stefan. He regularly shares his expertise of what it’s like travelling as a gay couple both on Nomadic Boys and on prominent publications ranging from Pink News, Matador, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian and many more. Originally from France, Sebastien moved to London in the early 2000s where he pursued a career as a computer programmer for Thompson Reuters and Bloomberg. He subsequently left it all to explore his passion for travelling around the world with Stefan to hand, and thus Nomadic Boys was born.

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