Peppery Pleasantries – Beijing’s Best Sichuan Restaurants

Are you looking for a way to challenge and entertain your tastebuds? Look no further than this list of Beijing’s best Sichuan restaurants, which specialize in making your tongue tingle! If you need something sweet to cool yourself down afterward, check out Glutton Guide Beijing for suggestions!

Sichuan’s cuisine is becoming famous all over the world and rightly so. It can be spelled in many ways (Szechuan, anyone?), but comes down to two types of heats “ma” and “la”, or Sichuan peppercorn and chili pepper, respectively. These two ingredients are used to masterful effect, creating dishes that reverberate as a lip-tingling delight. There’s also a sense of adventure, like gnawing on spicy rabbit heads, and an eye for the dramatic, such as the ‘three big cannonshots’ (san da pao) – a traditional Chengdu street snack involving flinging three balls of sweet, sticky rice against a metal tray dusted with ground peanut and toasted soy. Sichuan cuisine: you have to see it to believe it.

Chuanjingban Canting 川京办餐厅

 

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This eatery run by Sichuan Provincial Government Of ce, known to all as Chuanban, is always busy and for good reason. Firstly, the location is one of the most accessible for locals and tourists alike of such provincial of ces in the city. Secondly, Sichuan food with its numbing spice have become one of the nation’s best culinary exports – no matter how it is spelled – and this restaurant serves some of the most authentic (read: spicy) dishes in the capital.

Haidilao 海底捞

 

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Open 24-hours a day, Sichuan-bred chain Haidilao is the ultimate contemporary Chinese dining experience. Waits can be long during peak times, but free manicures, shoe shines and snacks while you wait are almost as much of the attraction as the spicy hotpot. Bonus points for the massive DIY dipping sauce bars and the option of half portions for smaller parties of two or three.

Sanyangcai 三样菜

 

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Sichuan cuisine that people from Sichuan don’t complain about is a rare thing outside of the province, but San Yang Cai keeps everyone quiet. Satisfactorily spicy, the diverse menu touches on every aspect of the cuisine and you get free beer to wash it all down if you spend over RMB 100. 

Chuanren Xiang 川仁巷

For a whirlwind tour of Chengdu’s noodles, this is your stop. Though Sichuanese restaurants and Chengdu snack shops abound in Beijing, Chuanren Xiang is one of the few spots to try harder-to-find specialties like tianshui mian (“sweet water noodles” – thick noodles coated in a sweet- spicy sauce) or yibin ranmian (“burning noodles” – tossed with chili oil, toasted peanuts and pickled vegetables). Sampling a few of the 17 noodle varieties Chuanren Xiang offers is a must, but the other regional specialty dishes are equally stunning and shouldn’t be missed

Zhang Mama 张妈妈

The original location of this hole-in-the-wall Sichuan joint often has waits of over an hour spilling out into the hutong. It’s one of the cheapest, but best, meals you can get in the capital – if you’re into spice. Their no-frills attitude extends to service, and patrons are required to handwrite their order so keep the recommended ordering info on hand or ask a friendly dining neighbor.

Excited yet? Check out Glutton Guide Beijing for more delicious food! Let’s be honest: eating four or five meals a day while traveling is completely justified. 

Sip and Slurp – Beijing’s Best Noodles

In China, noodles are associated with longevity and are therefore often eaten on birthdays. It doesn’t have to be your birthday for you to enjoy a big bowl of 面 in Beijing, luckily! Check out Glutton Guide Beijing‘s list of Beijing’s best boodles for a fun and satisfying meal.

Bei 27 Hao 27


This small, hip eatery tucked into a quiet street at the edge Beijing’s busiest shopping and nightlife neighborhood only sells a handful of dishes. But what Bei 27 Hao lacks in variety, it makes up for in a definitively stellar bowl of noodles. The two-room shop specializes in Lanzhou province’s niangpi – fat coils of smooth chewy noodle draped in mianjin (porous wheat gluten) and drizzled with sesame-chili sauce. The other main option is the soupy “Grandma’s house” saozi mian, delightful though lacking the same one-two punch as the niangpi. Don’t miss splitting a serving of fragrant rechao liangfen, stir-fried starch jelly that is both spicy and sour.

Order: Lanzhou niangpi noodles (兰州酿皮 lánzhōu niàngpí)l “Grandma’s house” saozi noodle soup (姥姥家臊子面 lǎolaojiā sàozi miàn); stir-fried starch jelly (热炒凉粉 rèchǎo liángfěn); glutinous rice with red date (香糯年糕xiāng nuò niángāo)

Chuanren Xiang 川仁巷

For a whirlwind tour of Chengdu’s noodles, this is your stop. Though Sichuanese restaurants and Chengdu snack shops abound in Beijing, Chuanren Xiang is one of the few spots to try harder-to-find specialties like tianshui mian (“sweet water noodles” – thick noodles coated in a sweet-spicy sauce) or yibin ranmian (“burning noodles” – tossed with chili oil, toasted peanuts and pickled vegetables). Sampling a few of the 17 noodle varieties Chuanren Xiang offers is a must, but the other regional specialty dishes are equally stunning and shouldn’t be missed.

Order: sweet water noodles (甜水面 tiánshuǐ miàn); burning noodles (宜宾燃面 yíbīn ránmiàn); mapo tofu (麻婆豆腐mápó dòufu); chicken with offal (肥肠鸡 féicháng jī); twice-cooked pork (回锅肉huíguō ròu)

Ling’er Jiu  

This Shaanxi noodle shack dishes out what are colloquially known as “crack noodles” by anyone who has ever tried a bowl of its youpo chemian. Available with or without pork, the He family’s secret recipe tosses together broad ribbons of handmade wheat noodles and an exceptional house-blend of chili sauce with a splash of vinegar and soy sauce to make a dish you’ll be obsessing about for days after. Pair it with a “double-sauced” roujiamo, one of the best renditions of the fatty pork sandwich that the city has to offer. Several branches exist, but the original noticeably eclipses the others. If you only eat noodles once in Beijing, it should be here.

Order: noodles with spicy oil (贺氏秘制油泼扯面 Hèshì mìzhì yóupō chěmiàn), double sauced pork burger (双份肉夹馍 shuāngfèn ròujiāmó).

Pingwa Sanbao 平娃三宝 

From seafood to roasted lamb leg, this raucous 24-hour joint seems to serve a bit of just about everything. Focus in on the noodles dishes as the foundation to your meal then round it out with half a dozen yangrou chuanr (lamb skewers) and some grilled oysters. The signature Shanxi province hand-cut noodles are not to be missed, nor are the Qishan-style dry-mixed saozi mian, which are a beguiling blend of spicy and sour.

Order: signature hand-cut noodles (招牌刀削面 zhāopái dāoxiāomiàn); dry-mixed Qishan-style noodles (干拌臊子面 gānbàn sàozi miàn); Inner Mongolia lamb skewers (内蒙古羔羊肉串 nèiménggǔ gāoyáng ròuchuàn); grilled oysters (考生蚝 kǎoshēng háo)

Old Beijing Noodle King 老北京炸面大王

Zhajiang mian is the iconic old Beijing noodle dish. From low-rent versions made with instant ramen and gloopy sauce squeezed from a packet to high-end ‘molecular’ riffs, you can find variations of all sorts sprinkled all around town. Old Beijing Noodle King turns out a fine, traditional example of these ‘fried sauce noodles’. Chunky wheat noodles topped with julienned watermelon radish and cucumber, chopped scallions, beansprouts, and fresh soybeans are mixed with an intoxicatingly earthy sauce of salty fermented soybean paste and fried ground pork. The dish arrives unassembled, with small saucers for each ingredient, to be thrown together with a bang at the table.

Order: Beijing fried pork sauce noodles (炸酱面zhá jiàng miàn)

 

Looking for something fried or some green veggies to complement your noodle-fest? Check out Glutton Guide Beijing for unforgettably delicious destinations!

Walking Through A Dream – Beijing’s Best Food Streets

Looking for a place to try Beijing’s most exciting street foods all at once and for low prices? Look no further than this list of Beijing’s best food streets for recommendations, and check out Glutton Guides Beijing for more sit-down restaurants, bars, desserts, and more!

Beijing may not boast picturesque lanes lined with vendors hawking snacks from their stalls in the open air, but still there are a couple culinary streets to cruise.

Huguosi Snack Street 国寺小吃街 

 

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From Changsha-style stinky tofu to Hangzhou soup dumplings, this pedestrian street in Beijing’s west offers a selection of regional snack foods. It is hands-down the best place to sample Beijing snacks, with the flagship outlet of Huguosi Xiaochidian (护国寺小吃店, 93 Huguosi Dajie) that serves up the whole range of ancient and contemporary treats.

Try traditional dishes like a millet and rice flour porridge topped with sesame paste (面茶 miàn chá) or even boiled tripe (爆肚 bàodǔ) – possibly an acquired taste but certainly a straight-up classic. Down the road, you’ll also find an outlet from donkey sandwich shop Wang Pangzi (113 Huguosi Dajie). The new Xintiandi mall (85 Huguosi Dajie) might be a bit of a blight on the traditional aesthetic of the street, but if you’ve had enough of Chinese food for the moment, head inside the mall to local pub Nbeer where you can try a massive variety of microbrews from around China. Also check out the decent Mexican restaurant Xalapa opened by an Argentinian expat.

Guijie 簋街 

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Known in English as ‘Ghost Street’ (pronounced guǐjiē), the ‘gui’ in the Chinese name for this two-block strip of street refers to an ancient bronze vessel for holding food. Apparently, in the Qing Dynasty, the deceased were transported out of town for burial via a nearby city gate (Dongzhimen); the street was lined with funeral shops and locals began referring to it colloquially as ‘Ghost Street’.

Only recently did the government change the name to characters with the same pronunciation but a different, more auspicious meaning. Now the street is jam-packed with Sichuan restaurants, which are open until the early morning or even 24 hours. The scene really gets going from around 8pm onwards, with crowds of young locals getting together for Chongqing-style roast fish (烤鱼 kǎo yú) and spicy crayfish (麻辣小龙虾 málà xiǎolóngxiā). Huda Restaurant (胡大饭店; 233 Dongzhimen Dajie) is a very popular choice for crayfish, but you can’t go wrong anywhere with a long line of customers waiting for a seat.

Touristy Food Streets

Wangfujing Snack Street 王府井小吃街

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This food street located east of the Forbidden City is one of the best-known food streets in Beijing. Here you’ll find yourself fighting crowds of selfie-stick wielding tourists for overpriced, tasteless and often downright questionable street foods. The main attraction is deep-fried skewers of scorpions, silkworm cocoons and even seahorses. If you’re into eating Fear Factor style, this busy, touristy market will provide some kicks. If you’re curious, use it as a reference for the huge variety of traditional snacks available in Beijing, but please, sample at other locations in the city provided in this guide. Prices are high, crowds are thick and the snack quality is very low, but it is a unique and curious scene. Donghuamen Night Market used to be nearby, another very popular snack street, however the government recently ordered it closed.

Nanluoguxiang 南锣鼓巷

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Nanluoguxiang is another well-known pedestrian street filled with souvenir shops and small snack stalls. It’s an adventure into modern China’s characteristic chaos and not for the faint of heart, as it tops domestic tourists’ lists. On weekends and temperate days, visitors regularly jam the narrow street and the occasional car pushes its way through. Snacks are more contemporary-style – churros, foot-and-a-half tall soft-serve swirls – but give an insight into mainstream Chinese youths’ tastes.

Can’t get enough of the delicious Beijing food you tried on the street? Why not take a look at Glutton Guide Beijing for more scrumptious suggestions? 

Steamy and Southern – Beijing’s Best Yunnan Restaurants

Looking to try the exciting flavors of Yunnan without leaving the east coast? Never fear — Glutton Guide’s list of Beijing’s best Yunnan restaurants will satisfy your tastebuds without the expensive plane ticket!

Yunnan can comfortably make a stake for being China’s most interesting region, and it has the cuisine to match. While you won’t get ferns as fresh as if they were picked from the mountainside, you will get to experience the most biodiverse food in China and mounds of mushrooms. Yunnan cuisine has a distinct Southeast Asian flavor thanks to its borders with Thailand, Burma and Vietnam.

Dianke Dianlai 滇客滇来 

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Lying in the shadows of the space-age Galaxy Soho building, this unforgettable courtyard restaurant hides away behind a red door marked by a lone number 8. Choose from three price points (RMB 128, 198 and 298) and prepare yourself for a delicious onslaught in the intimate, sun-dappled dining room. The kitchen serves up whatever is freshest that day, but happily accommodates dietary restrictions.

Little Yunnan 小云南 

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Just north of the Forbidden City on a leafy road, Little Yunnan is dropping big flavors from the southwest. The atmosphere is intimate and the menu limited – but curated – so you can’t choose wrong. Go for floral, tropical tastes like tea and pineapple wherever possible – and don’t miss out on the house-made rice wine.

If your palette seeks further excitement, check out Glutton Guide Beijing for a comprehensive list of Beijing’s best places to eat just about everything. 

 

Meet the Author: Glutton Guide Beijing’s Jonathan White

Jonathan White arrived in Beijing at the start of 2007 (before the Olympics changed the city forever) and spent those first 18 months sampling street food that would make his mother turn up her nose. After several years at the helm of the Beijinger – where he expanded the dining coverage to include more Chinese cuisine – he founded The Cleaver Quarterly, a print-only magazine dedicated to telling the story of Chinese food all over the world. His work has also appeared in Lucky Peach and Roads & Kingdoms.  Now Jonathan is the co-author of Glutton Guide Beijing: The Hungry Traveler’s Guidebook.

Where Are You From? Manchester, England.

How Long Have You Lived in Beijing? I lived in Beijing for 9 years

Favorite food? Ever since I was a kid I have loved Peking duck.

Favorite restaurant in Beijing? Li Qun Roast Duck.

Favorite chef in Beijing? Everyone at Baoyuan Jiaozi Wu

Street cred? Founded The Cleaver Quarterly, written about Chinese food for Lucky Peach and Roads & Kingdoms

What’s the one dish visitors cannot miss if they come to your city? Peking duck. The big clue is in the name.

Favorite piece of food writing? Bread: The Story of Greggs by Ian Gregg

Guilty pleasure/embarrassing food obsession? Greggs

Favorite destination for eating? New Orleans

What should you always make from scratch? Pancakes

To read more of Jonathan White’s writing, download your copy of Glutton Guide Beijing: The Hungry Traveler’s Guidebook. You can also check out our other cities: Shanghai, Prague, Buenos Aires, Melbourne and Burlington

Beijing’s Best Food Books

Read your way through Glutton Guide Beijing, but still want more? Dig into Beijing’s best food books below. Don’t even think about reading them on an empty stomach!

Beijing Eats: A Food-Lover’s Companion to China’s Culinary Capital


Published in 2009, this 336-page guide to the capital’s Chinese cuisine gives an excellent and in-depth look at the regional cuisines available in Beijing. Eileen Wen Mooney introduces each culinary tradition, weaving in cultural and historical tidbits along the way. A handful of the recommended restaurants are out-of-date, however many remain relevant several years on. This is a must-read for anyone serious about their Chinese food education. More info.

Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking


Fuschia Dunlop made history as the first foreigner to matriculate at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine. (In the local dialect no less!) Every Grain of Rice follows up her two volumes on Hunan & Sichuan cuisine and features vegetable-heavy recipes for everyday cooking at home. More info.

Exploring China: A Culinary Adventure: 100 Recipes from Our Journey

Missing the flavors from your time in China? Or maybe you’re looking to expand your regional Chinese cuisine horizons. These recipes and introductions take you beyond the ingredients and into their deeper cultural roots and significance. It’s the culinary companion to the popular BBC series of the same name. More info.

On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome, with Love and Pasta

Part love story, part epic travelogue, On The Noodle Road is one woman’s adventure across Asia and Europe. She’s on a quest to understand the humble noodle’s place throughout history. It is food travel writing at its core, but it digs even deeper as Len-Liu finds herself immersed in local women’s lives everywhere she travels, looking for regional specialties. It’s Lin-Liu’s follow up to her previous hit, Serve The People, a look at Beijing’s culinary scene and China’s full cast of characters as the country experienced lightning-fast change. More info.

Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China

It’s not every day you pack up your life, move to Chengdu and then decide to stay and train at the local culinary institute. But not many people are as impressive as Fuschia Dunlop. The Brit chronicled her time eating and cooking her away around the spice-filled region on a never-ending quest for more recipes and local insights. It’s an immensely enjoyable intro to Chinese food, and a rare glimpse into the Chinese culinary arts. More info.

The Last Chinese Chef

Sure, the romantic subplot can be a bit cheesy at times, but this is really a love letter to China’s cuisine. And it’s downright dreamy one at that. Based on historical events, with a little fictional flair, this novel is not for reading on an empty stomach. It’s an excellent read for understanding the historical and cultural significance of eating and cooking in China. More info.

Download your copy of Glutton Guide Beijing, and start eating like a local today!

Meet the Author: Cat Nelson, Glutton Guide Beijing

After first visiting China in 1994, Cat Nelson has been in Beijing since 2010 and spent most of that time living in the city’s farther reaches. As a food and drink editor – first for the Beijinger, then for Time Out – she delved into the capital’s finer side, from meeting Michelin-starred chefs and sampling molecular gastronomy to exploring the growing local organic scene. But Cat has always remained the first to try the latest greasy hole-in-the-wall. Here’s a little but more about one half of the Glutton Guide Beijing writing team.

Where are you from? Santa Cruz, California, USA

How long have you lived in Beijing? I lived in Beijing for the better part of a decade. Recently I moved down to Shanghai (Chinese food here pales in comparison, by the way), but still keep up with everything that’s on in the capital, my first love.

Favorite food: Dandan noodles? Kouign-amann? All kinds of soup? Too hard to pick one favorite.

Favorite restaurant in Beijing: Any Xinjiang restaurant at 4am after a night out.

Favorite chef in Beijing: *lips sealed*

Street cred: Been writing about food and drink in China professionally for four plus years, and been eating with semi-pro attitude for much longer.

What’s the one dish visitors cannot miss if they come to your city? Jianbing – humble and crazy delicious.

What’s your favorite piece of food writing? Ruth Reichl’s Comfort Me with Apples and the ‘Tables for Two’ column in The New Yorker.

Guilty pleasure/embarrassing food obsession: Don’t believe in guilt associated with food.

What’s your favorite destination for eating? The kitchen.

What should you always make from scratch? Cake.

To read more of Cat Nelson’s writing, download your copy of Glutton Guide Beijing: The Hungry Traveler’s Guidebook.

Beijing’s Best Street Foods

From dawn till dusk till dawn again, there’s always something on the streets of Beijing to make you feel the pangs of hunger. The incredible range of fresh street food in Beijing is often made right in front of your eyes, and it is the best way to get to know traditional Beijing (bonus: it won’t break the bank). All of these snacks can be found quite literally on the street – whether from carts peddled by vendors or small takeaway windows – although some of our recommendations include hole-in-the-wall restaurants that are just a step up from the alleyways. To find out more about where to get Beijing’s best street food, download your copy of Glutton Guide Beijing.

Jiānbing (煎饼)jianbing beijing's best street food

This is the Beijing street food. No matter its origins, the capital has woven this eggy crepe deep into the fabric of Beijingers’ everyday lives. Breakfast, lunch or late night snack – it is never a bad time for a jianbing. It is hard to go wrong by grabbing one from any of the roaming, street carts; they’re often better than the brick-and-mortar shops.

Lǘròu huǒshāo (驴肉火烧)

One of the most underrated meats, donkey might be foreign to your palate, but don’t overlook it in Beijing. It is most easily found in restaurants that specialize in donkey – a common sight on the streets of the capital. The best way to eat it is in a ‘donkey burger’, or lürou huoshao. The meat is lean but tender, the bun extra flaky, and you won’t be able to stop at just one.

Ròujiāmó (肉夹馍)

roujiamo beijing's best street food

Often translated as ‘Chinese burgers’, these small sandwiches are much closer to a pulled pork sandwich. First chefs stew soft, shredded pork for hours with a mixture of spices, then pack the meat into a flat, round bun. Simple and unadulterated, this meat-bread combo is one of China’s best kept secrets.

Chuànr (串儿)

The red LED light signs with the Chinese character for skewer (串 chuanr) are ubiquitous on Beijing’s streets. This Xinjiang specialty is (traditionally) lamb skewers dusted in cumin and spices. Vendors offer vegetable and other meat chuanr, like chicken wings, as well, but focus on the lamb (羊肉串儿 yángròu chuànr).

Málàtang (麻辣烫)

Malatang, or mouth-numbing spicy soup, originally hails from Sichuan, but Beijing has adopted it as its own. There are two main styles: the ultra-street version from roadside stalls where you pick skewers of ingredients out of a spicy broth that simmers for most of the day, or the more preferable small restaurants where you choose the fresh skewers from a refrigerator and the kitchen then cooks them to order. Ingredients err on the vegetarian side of things, with a few questionable meat options generally available. Keep your sauce game on point and slather your bowl in sesame paste.

Yóutiáo & Dòuzhī (油条和豆汁)

youtiao beijing's best street food

While the rest of the country has youtiao (deep-fried cruller) and doujiang (豆浆fresh soymilk, served warm) for breakfast, Beijing has youtiao and douzhi, a Beijing specialty similar to soymilk, but made from mung beans and turned up to 11. The involved process of making douzhi results in a fermented, ultra-funky morning beverage that will wake you up faster than your normal cup of coffee. It is decidedly not for everyone, but the brave should try it.

Bāozi (包子)

Baozi, or steamed buns, are the ultimate Beijing street food for the on-the-go eater. Jam one in each hand and two in your pockets and you’ve got more than a full meal. Typically eaten for breakfast, these yeasty, steamed buns have a range of fillings, though in Northern China, they are generally more savory than sweet.

Shuǐjiǎo ()

Best Street Food Beijing dumplings
Arguably not even street food as whole meals center around them (including Chinese New Year’s dinner), shuijiao (or boiled dumplings) merit mention for the very reason that if you pop into any hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Beijing, you can be sure of one thing: there will be shuijiao. Shuijiao pack wheat wrappers with any number of fillings. The boiled dumplings are accompanied by dark vinegar and soy sauce for dipping and, traditionally, raw garlic cloves to nibble on. Everywhere you turn, you can find them and it is rare you’ll be disappointed.

Shāobǐng (烧饼)

The white sandwich bread of China, the shaobing has many uses – stick an egg in it and it’s a jiajidan or fill it with shredded pork and you’ve got a roujiamo. Often these flat buns are bad, bland and tasteless, but when they are good, they are very, very good. And when they are that delicious, the best thing to do is eat them plain, like at Jubaoyuan (see Regional Chinese Restaurants) alongside hot pot, or simply as a snack.

Kǎo Yáng Tuǐ (烤羊腿

kao yang tui beijing best street food
Roast lamb leg might seem like a winter dish, but in Beijing, kaoyangtui is one of the iconic summertime street food dining experiences. Though offered year round, the warmer months bring the action outside onto the street, where diners on small stools crowd around tables outfitted with a small spit. The kitchen par-roasts juicy lamb legs, seasoned with aromatic herbs and heavy on the cumin. Then waiters present the leg tableside where you finish off the cooking yourself. Just take care to fully roast the meat.

To find out more about where to get the best street food in Beijing, download your copy of Glutton Guide Beijing.

Meet Glutton Guide Beijing

Want to know definitively where the best Peking Duck in Beijing is? Hungry to explore China’s best regional cuisines without every leaving the capital’s city limits? Curious about Beijing’s excellent craft beer scene? Let me introduce you to Glutton Guide Beijing: The Hungry Traveler’s Guidebook.

glutton guide beijingYou do NOT want to read the most recent addition to the Glutton Guide series on an empty stomach. Listen – I love all of our Glutton Guide books, but this one has the most mouthwatering photos we’ve published to date. Food porn at its finest. You may have some weird feelings about duck, but trust me, it is worth it.

Not to mention, it has some seriously delicious content. From a Top 10 list of the city’s best street foods to a comprehensive overview of the best international restaurants for every budget, Glutton Guide Beijing has it all for the food-focused visitor to Beijing.

Did we mention the handy bilingual ordering recommendations and Mandarin language guide means that ordering has never been easier for the character illiterate? And all this for less than the cost of a Beijing cocktail (and you should read about some of the awesome cocktail bars in town).

Glutton Guide Beijing: The Hungry Traveler’s Guidebook is available for download from our website, Amazon’s Kindle store and Apple’s iBooks store. For the month of November, you can get 10% off when you purchase the PDF on our website by using the coupon code “kaoya”.