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By Chris | February 22 2007
Modern-day Beijing is a restaurant enthusiast’s delight.
Whatever it is you’re craving today, you can be sure to find it in one of the glittering, bustling capital’s main districts, be it an extravagant five-course French dinner à la Daniel Boulud or a chic, post-shopping sushi lunch. Of course, if it’s Chinese cuisine you’re after, you’ll be so spoiled for choice that you won’t even know where to start. Luckily, we’ve compiled some of the city’s finest dining, including the hottest new spot for Peking duck and a Beijing original you simply can’t miss.
Created by three-Michelin-starred French Chef Yannick Alléno, S.T.A.Y. represents a brand new concept of restaurant. With kitchen and service teams hand-picked by Chef Yannick, S.T.A.Y. has breathed new life into the Beijing restaurant scene.
Two features we love at S.T.A.Y. (‘Simple Table Alléno Yannick’) are the Communal Table and the Pastry Library. A style of dining popular in France, the Communal Table celebrates the French love of sharing good food and conversation with family and friends. The table seats six to ten guests and offers a customised menu from starters and mains, to wines served by the magnum.
Moving away from the more common open kitchen trend, Chef Yannick invented the Pastry Library as an interactive platform for both pastry chef and guests. At the Pastry Library, you can relish the creation of your dessert and take part in the process by choosing the last ingredient or topping. It takes the form of a French patisserie with lovingly handcrafted cakes, pastries and tarts displayed on shelves and in glass cases. We especially love Chef Yannick’s signature Saint Honoré cake and strawberry cheesecake. The opening of S.T.A.Y. brings many ‘firsts’. This is the first S.T.A.Y. in Asia,the Pastry Library is the first of its kind in Asia, and Chef Yannick is the first chef in Beijing who has obtained all five of his Michelin stars in France. Having made his name at Le Meurice in Paris, Chef Yannick here combines the finest French gastronomy with a fun, interactive setting.
For couples, the romantic ambiance of S.T.A.Y. will leave sweet and lasting memories. The cozy space is also great for families and friends to share time together, while its elegant design offers businessmen the perfect setting to make an impression and forge valuable ties.
1st floor, Valley Wing, Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing. 29 Zizhuyuan Road, Beijing 100089
86 10 6841 2211 ext.6727
Style / Ambiance: It’s hard to miss Maison Boulud, the majestic Versailles-inspired manor house located in a walled compound adjacent to stately Tiananmen Square.
Bringing the Daniel Boulud dining empire to China, this glittering palace of a restaurant offers a contemporary French-inspired menu, which makes use of both imported and local, or Pacific Rim, ingredients. Patrons have special praise for the sparklingly opulent interiors, which were designed by Parisian firm Gilles & Boissier to reflect colonial Beijing while adding sleek details. The Maison is managed by a cadre of seasoned professionals, many hand-picked from Boulud’s New York restaurants and other noteworthy properties worldwide, including Executive Chef Brian Reimer himself, whose cuisine annually garners the top food and restaurant awards in the city. With its sophisticated ambiance, five luxurious private dining rooms and separate lounge bar, Maison Boulud is the dining darling of Beijing’s most elite circles. As an added bonus, enjoy the fact you are having dinner at one of the most historically prestigious addresses in town — Chienmen 23 was once the location of the former American Embassy during the Qing dynasty. Back then it was high society’s most glamorous little slice of the city, the place for important foreign diplomats and Chinese imperial dignitaries to see and be seen. Spend an evening at Maison Boulud and you will find this old world experience has been captured and reimagined to stunning effect.
23 Qian Men East Street, Dongcheng District
86 10 6559 9200
Style / Ambiance: Lan Na Thai is one of the restaurants on the ever trendy Face Bar Estate, one of Beijing’s most popular hangouts for the well-heeled and welldressed.
Artfully carved Thai wooden panels hang on striking blue walls and tables overlook the buzzing courtyard below. It also makes for a very romantic setting. While the crowd is international, the chefs here are most definitely from Thailand, using fresh ingredients and serving spectacularly flavorsome creations, such as the steamed mushrooms stuffed with mince pork, prawn and Thai spices, served with oyster sauce. For great food in a great location, head to Lan Na Thai for a night to remember.
26 Dong Cao Yuan, Gongti South Road, Chaoyang District
86 10 6551 6788
Cuisine: Chinese – Jiangsu, Zhejiang
Style / Ambiance: To visit Mei Fu is to step backwards into the world of 1930s Peking Opera and experience the retro elegance of this exquisitely restored courtyard.
An interior filled with velvet drapes and antique furniture is accentuated by vintage black and white photographs and playbills of Mei Lanfang, a famous Peking opera star and official restaurant muse. Pebbled floor hallways and waterfalls create a wonderfully relaxed experience. Mei Fu offers a full dramatic sensory experience, with the high-swaying notes of Chinese opera, mainly Mei Lanfang’s recorded performances, drifting through the series of courtyard dining rooms. The cuisine on offer is healthy and light, featuring traditional Jiangsu and Zhejiang favorites, including shrimp with water chestnuts, pineapple salad, steamed fish and celery stirfried with lily bulbs. The Mei Fu courtyard is a hidden oasis of tranquility and Old World calm in the bustling capital.
24 Daxiangfeng Hutong, south bank of Houhai Lake, Xicheng District
86 10 6612 6845
Style / Ambiance: Set in a 400-year-old palace built for the 24th son of the Emperor Kangxi, this one-time favorite haunt of Communist Party Leader Deng Xiaoping is a place for those with a penchant for luxury and all things authentically Chinese.
The China Club is a private member’s club comprised of a series of five courtyards surrounded by 14 private dining rooms, a bar and a banquet hall. The dining rooms are fashioned out of what were once the concubines’ quarters and an opium parlor. The China Club’s chefs are renowned for their classical Chinese cuisine. Make sure you call ahead to book. And while you’re there, don’t forget to visit the club’s Long March Bar and adjacent Cigar Room, stocking high-quality imported Cuban cigars.
51 Xirong Xian Hutong, Xidan District
86 10 6603 8858 ext 116/117
Cuisine: Fusion, Chinese – Hunan
Style / Ambiance: Don’t let the name fool you, there is nothing humble about this place. When it comes to restaurants, My Humble House is playing in the Major Leagues.
Since its launch in 2004 by Singapore’a TungLok Group, My Humble House has been a jewel in the crown of the Beijing restaurant scene. With the main dining area situated around a rose-petal covered pool and gingko leaves scattered throughout the hallway, this unique spot is pure elegance. The spacious, light-filled atrium even sports a miniature bamboo forest to one side. When it comes to the food, few restaurants in the world do fusion so exceptionally well, successfully combining Western ingredients with subtle yet distinct Hunan-inspired Chinese flavor. The menu constantly changes, so there is always something new to try, but don’t dare leave without sampling the oatmeal crusted wasabi prawns. Almost painfully hip, My Humble House is loved by the city’s ultra-trendy and has been featured by the New York Times.
W307 Oriental Plaza, 1 East Chang’An Avenue, Dongcheng District
86 10 8518 8811
Style / Ambiance: Deep, dark and seductive, Hazara is all candlelight and dark wood, full of Indian and Balinese antiques.
Beijingers call it one of the most romantic restaurants in the city. Part of the Face Bar complex, Hazara offers quality North Indian food, excellent service and an extensive wine list. The bar on the first floor, which is colonial inspired, is the perfect place to meet your date for a pre-dinner drink.
26 Dong Cao Yuan, Gongti South Road, Chaoyang District
86 10 6551 6788
Style / Ambiance: Daccapo is a vibrant, contemporary Italian restaurant offering genuine and refined Italian cuisine that is impeccably presented.
The dishes are personalized and perfected by the creativity and flair of Michelin Star Chef Mario Cittadini, of Italy’s Il Postale fame. Old World Italian décor and mood lighting makes this restaurant warm and relaxing. Be sure to try one of their firebaked pizzas, famous all around town.
The Regent Beijing, 99 Jinbao Street, Dongcheng District
86 10 8522 1789
Style / Ambiance: A frequent champion of local dining awards, Hatsune’s ultra-modern interiors, extensive specialist sake list and excellent service ensure it is always busy.
Not to worry though, as there is a beautiful glass-encased VIP dining room available by booking that features an intricately woodworked sunken table and is perfect for those who prefer some privacy. Hatsune is extremely popular, known as one of the best spots to eat Japanese in Beijing, and is the perfect choice if you’re meeting a friend or associate for lunch. There’s a cozy terrace overlooking the Sanlitun Village main plaza where you can enjoy your drink while people-watching.
8 Guanghua East Road/The Village, Gongti North Road, Sanlitun, Chaoyang District
86 10 6581 3939