Beijing Street Food
Beijing Street Food is cheap, convienent and varied, and the extensive range available means you’ll never go hungry. As the capital of China, Beijing cuisine has been greatly influenced by the surrounding regions, especially Shandong, Huaiyang and the Chinese Imperial Artistocracy. Also known as Mandarin cuisine or Jing cuisine, Beijing cuisine is heavily focused on snacks, appetizers and light bites as compared to main courses.
Food in Beijing can be found in food stands and kiosks on the streets, in cafes, mid-range eateries or fine restaurants. Beijing is unique in that locals tend to prefer Bread instead of Rice, unlike other parts of China. Ingredients that are commonly used include soy sauce, sesame seeds, scallions, onions, tofu, beef, duck, lamb, mutton, pork, kai-lan chinese broccoli, bok choy chinese cabbage, cucumbers, carrots, bread, noodles, eggs, tomatoes, broad beans, vinegar, soy beans, hawthorn, chestnuts, oranges, melons, all purpose flour, grass carp fish, sea bass fish, peanuts and chili.
Snacking is very common in Beijing, and meals often consist of several light bites, often consumed along with bread or noodles. Frying is the most preferred cooking method in Beijing. Officials of Imperial China liked to eat varied and elaborate dishes, and these recipes are still available today in many restaurants. Sharing and communal dining is common in China, and one dish meals tend to be rather plain and simple as compared to a typical Chinese spread with a few dishes.
Beef Noodles are a very common one-dish meal, often served in Chinese fast food restaurants in Beijing and throughout China. The noodles / La Mian, are unique to Beijing, made using high gluten flour / wheat flour, water and salt, then pulled and stretched multiple times. A warm, thin soup / broth is made using beef stock, tomato juice, water and salt, then garnished with slow braised beef brisket, sliced tomatoes and spring onions. Beef Noodles are often eaten during cold weather.
Yanjing Beer is a local Beijing beer, with a golden colour, and a mild aroma and taste, with a clean smooth finish.
Braised Beef And Potatoes Stew are made with slow braised beef brisket, beef tendons, beef ribs, diced potatoes and shiitakke mushrooms. It has very little gravy, but the gravy that exists is rather oily.
Braised Duck consists of thinly sliced duck breast, rubbed with Chinese 5-spice powder, then slow braised in a mixture of light soy sauce and dark soy sauce. This makes the meat tender and gives it a slightly savoury tang.
Braised Lamb is a typical Beijing dish, consisting of cubes of lamb slow braised together with carrots and soy beancurd skin. Mutton may sometimes be used in place of lamb in some areas of China.
Bun Custard / Custard Bun is a small bun made from all purpose flour, baking soda, water, white vinegar, oil, sugar and yeast, then stuffed with a filling of custard made from chicken eggs, sugar, full cream milk, butter and salt.
Bun Fried / Fried Bun is the staple food of Beijing, commonly prefered by locals instead of rice. The bun is made from all purpose flour / wheat flour, baking soda, water, salt, oil, sugar and yeast, then steamed. Finally, it is sliced, and then deep fried. You can tell a true Beijing local if they order this Bun Fried / Fried Bun.
The Bun Fried Stuffed With Meat And Vegetables is also a Beijing speciality, consisting of a mixture of chicken, mushrooms, radish, turnip and cucumbers stuffed into a bun, then deep fried.
Bun Pork / Pork Bun, also known as Cha Siu Bao, is a classic Cantonese bun consisting of barbecued marinated pork.
Bun Steamed / Steamed Bun / Mantou is the basic Chinese bun widely consumed throughout China. The bun is made from all purpose flour / wheat flour, baking soda, water, salt, oil, sugar and yeast, then steamed. Bun Steamed / Steamed Bun can be formed into a variety of shapes, and is also used as the basic bun for stuffing with various ingredients.
Bun Vegetable / Vegetable Bun / Cai Bao is a Chinese bun stuffed with mushrooms, preserved radish, preserved turnip, and preserved cucumber.
Cake Beijing Yellow / Beijing Yellow Cake is a light golden sponge cake that is typically steamed. Cake Beijing Yellow, also known as Ma Lai Go / Ji Dan Gao, is made with all purpose flour, water, salt, chicken eggs and sugar.
Cake Cold Bean / Cold Bean Cake / Mung Bean Cake / Lu Dou Gao is a sweet cake made with mung beans, water, salt and studded with red beans. Despite its sweet nature, it is often eaten as an appetizer.
Cake Pea / Pea Cake / Wan Dou Huang is a traditional Beijing dish, made with yellow split peas, water and sugar. The resulting paste can be shaped into various forms, though it is often served as a cube. It gained popularity as the favourite snack of the Empress Dowager Cixi.
Candied Fruit, also known as Bing Tang Hu Lu, is a traditional sweet in China that is made from various sliced fruits, dipped in either sugar syrup, chocolate, or sesame seeds. Typically, the fruit used is hawthorn, although cherry tomatoes, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, pineapples, kiwi fruit, or grapes are increasingly common.
Creativity in Imperial Chinese cuisine is displayed in not just beautifully presented dishes, but unique combination of ingredients that work together despite their disparity, like this Century Egg Papaya.
While Congee is a popular breakfast food in China, it is rather uncommon in Beijing, often served only in restaurants. The Congee here is a thick rice porridge, served plain, and garnished with your choice of preserved vegetables or toppings such as century eggs.
Dumplings Jiao Zi Pork And Shrimp is a steamed Chinese snack common in Beijing, and often eaten as an appetizer, side dish, or for breakfast or supper. The dough is made from all purpose flour, water and salt, while the filling is a mixture of minced shrimp, pork, spring onions, and salt. Dumplings Jiao Zi Pork And Shrimp often has a thick skin, an oblong shape, and is eaten with vinegar and sliced ginger.
Dumplings Siew Mai is a Cantonese dish of Dim Sum, made with a mixture of minced pork, shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, spring onions, and stuffed into a thin, lye water dough wrapper.
Fried Dough Twist / Ma Hua is a traditional Beijing street snack, sold on nearly every street corner. Fried Dough Twist has a golden colour, and is made from all purpose flour, water, salt, sugar, yeast, chicken eggs, and then deep fried in peanut oil. It is often enhanced with various flavours, the most popular being hawthorn, pepper, osmanthus and sesame seeds.
Fried Fish With Orange And Ginger is a simple dish of deep fried fresh carp, garnished with orange zest and ginger. This gives the dish a refreshing taste with a bit of zing from the ginger.
A simple staple, Fried Noodles is simply soy bean noodles or wheat noodles that is stir fried. Usually, other ingredients can be added to enhance the dish.
Although rice isn’t a staple of Beijing, Fried Rice is becoming increasingly common due to people from other parts of China moving to Beijing. Fried Rice is simply a dish of rice fried with various vegetables such as carrots, onions, cucumbers, peas, corn, bell peppers, and chicken eggs.
Hot And Sour Soup is a regional dish of both Beijing and Sichuan. The thick soup / broth typically contains lily buds, wood ear fungus, tofu, bamboo shoots, crab meat, eggs, button mushrooms, vinegar, chili and corn. Hot And Sour Soup is usually considered a healthy dish.
Ma Po Tofu is yet another regional dish of both Beijing and Sichuan. Ma Po Tofu consists of tofu cubes in a spicy gravy of chili, minced pork, fermented black beans, peppercorns, spring onions, Chinese rice wine, corn starch, bean sauce, chili oil and chili flakes. The numbing heat of Ma Po Tofu can be adjusted by the number of chili / Sichuan peppercorns used in the dish.
Marinated Lamb is a dish prepared the way local Beijing people like it, thinly sliced with a layer of meat, and a layer of fat, then deep fried / flash fried quickly so that the outer skin turns slightly crisp, while the meat is cooked to a medium tenderness.
Peking Duck is a famous Beijing dish that is also considered a national dish of China. Prized for the thin, crisp duck skin, usually served thinly sliced with a little of the duck meat, and eaten with wheat pancakes, spring onions, hoisin sauce / sweet bean sauce, cucumber and sugar. Peking Duck uses ducks bred for exactly 65 days, after which they are seasoned before being roasted. The most famous restaurant serving Peking Duck is Quan Ju De, a Beijing franchise brand that was established in 1864.
Preserved Anchovies are simply anchovy fish pickled in vinegar and dusted with sugar. It is usually served as an appetizer.
Preserved Radish are pickled radish that are brined in vinegar and salt. It is served as an appetizer before a meal.
Roast Chestnuts are a popular street snack in Beijing, and are simply whole chestnuts roasted with sugar in a pan of hot sand coals. Roast Chestnuts vendors tend to do well during autumn or winter months, when the warmth of the roasting chestnuts and the sweet aroma fills the air, quickly drawing crowds.
Unlike Peking Duck, the Beijing Roast Duck focuses more on serving a dish of fragrant and tender duck meat with a medium crisp duck skin, unlike the Peking Duck dish which has a hard crisp skin and very little meat. Roast Duck may be prepared in the same oven, and are often lightly seasoned with salt.
Soy Bean Milk With Fried Dough Fritter is a common breakfast dish in Beijing. But Soy Bean Milk is also a popular drink throughout the day, and is served in many cafes, Chinese fast food restaurants and street side stalls.
Soy Sauce Chicken is a dish of tender and juicy chicken, which was boiled in a mixture of ginger, salt, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, water and star anise. The chicken fully absorbs the soy sauce flavour after a few hours.
Steamboat Hot Pot is a popular communal dining option in Beijing, especially on weekends. Steamboat Hot Pot usually consist of 1 or 2 types of soup base / stock, to which a large variety of vegetables, meats, and starch can be added. Some of the best places in Beijing for Steamboat Hot Pot include Hai Di Lao Huo Guo, Long Shun Yuan Spicy Pot, and Kou Fu Ju Hot Pot Restaurant.
Despite its odd look, Steamed Broad Beans is a common cold dish appetizer in Beijing, consisting of boiled / blanched broad beans with a little salt.
The Steamed Chicken With Mushrooms In Lotus Leaf is a very fragrant dish, due to the lotus leaf wrapper which traps the aroma within. It also helps to partially steam the food, such that the chicken and shiitake mushrooms within become very juicy and tender. In Beijing, Steamed Chicken With Mushrooms In Lotus Leaf can be served with or without white rice inside.
A simple appetizer, Steamed Crab Stick And Celery consists of steamed slices of crab stick alongside sliced celery. It is more commonly served in restaurants rather than cafes.
Steamed Fish is popular with Chinese people, but not commonly eaten by Beijing locals. There are only a few species of fish native to Beijing, which includes the grass carp, sea bass and bream. These are normally deboned, then sliced and steamed with ginger, salt and water.
A simple dish, Steamed Pork Ribs In Black Bean Sauce consists of short cuts of pork ribs, steamed along with black beans, bean paste, water, salt and chili.
While the ingredients of chunks of beef, onions, bell peppers / capsicum and carrots are simple, stir frying the dish of Stir Fried Beef With Bell Peppers requires skill to cook the meat till tender yet juicy, while still retaining the crisp freshness of the vegetables.
Stir Fried Bitter Gourd Melon is a simple stir fry of bitter gourd melon, salt and bell peppers / capsicum.
One of the more common vegetables served in Beijing is Stir Fried Bok Choy Chinese Cabbage. The freshness of the vegetables is the most important, as it should still retain a crisp firm bite, and a pale green colour even after cooking.
More of a Chinese dish than a Beijing dish, the Stir Fried Cabbage With Carrots And Cloud Ear Fungus is a simple stir fry of cabbage, carrots, cloud ear fungus, shiitake mushrooms, salt and dried shrimp. The chef has to ensure that the dish is flavourful, without letting the dried shrimp overpower the natural taste of the vegetables.
Another common vegetable dish served in Beijing, the Stir Fried Kai Lan Chinese Broccoli is usually served in most mid-range restaurants and cafes. The freshness of the vegetable is important, as the natural taste should not be overwhelmed.
Stir Fried Sweet And Sour Pork is a popular Chinese dish of sliced pork loin, stir fried with onions, pineapples, sugar, tomato ketchup, salt, vinegar, corn starch, light soy sauce, dark sou sauce and water. Stir Fried Sweet And Sour Pork has a tangy, sweet taste, and the meat should be tender and firm without being dry or limp.
Stir Fried Tomato With Scrambled Eggs is a typical traditional Beijing dish, consisting of tomatoes, chicken eggs, spring onions and salt. Stir Fried Tomato With Scrambled Eggs is often served as a side dish.
White Rice is not a common staple in Beijing, unlike other parts of China, due to the rather dry climate here which makes growing rice difficult. However, it is still served in many places, owing to Chinese from all over China coming to live in Beijing.
Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea is a unique tea, which is rather thick and almost syrup like in consistency, but with a sweet finish.