Beijing, or Peking as the locals know it, is the capital city of China, world’s largest country by the number of inhabitants. The city is packed with touristic sites as the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven or the Tiananmen Square. But after the tourist gets to see all of this one immediate feeling strikes him, and that is hunger. No worries, because the Chinese food is considered one of the most amazing in the world, and Beijing has some of the finest, traditional restaurants ever, where a meal could be an experience of a life time.
It is thought that Beijing’s roastd duck, like the tradition of roast turkey in America and the UK, owes its origin to the roast goose that is still popular in Europe. Westerners like Marco Polo brought certain European customs to China and may have introduced the concept of roasting poultry to their Chinese hosts during the Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368). Ducks had long been domesticated in China and the plump ducks proved to be an excellent substitute for goose. However, there is another school of thought based upon certain records that show roast duck has a much longer history dating back as far as the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420 – 589). Up until the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 – 1279), ducks were roasted in the area around Jinling, today’s Nanjing. However, the later Yuan Dynasty rulers moved their capital city to Beijing from Jinling and took with them their cuisine thus making roast duck popular in the city that was eventually to make it its very own specialty.
The locals are a big fan of the dish, and restaurants are spread around the city serving this beautiful meal. One of the busiest places is “Da Dong”, which has two locations. The prices are a bit on a high sight, but the food is perfect.
When thinking about China, the average European sees snakes, worms and things that look and taste weird. But that is not the case at the “Fangshan” Imperial restaurant. This place has an important role, and that is to give us the normal people a meal worth of a royal dining experience. This restaurant and store offers the food similar to what the emperor in the past ate.
It makes all the dishes and snacks that the emperor enjoyed. That is the uniqueness of it. Thus, you can get a good understanding of the emperor’s diet, but the food here is worth a taste, especially the “snacks” like some sweet bean products for example. If you want a full meal the best you can get is a Royal Platter, which is a huge plate, filled with all kinds of meats, vegetables and sauces, perfect for having a taste of everything, just as the emperor liked it. You can find the restaurant at the Beihai Park, which you can find in the Northwest of the Forbidden City. Prices are not that high as in a Peking duck place, so that you can enjoy most of the dishes and still walk out with moneys inside your pockets.
If looking for the traditional pot of soup and noodles, the best place to go is the local market, but look for the one that is quite small and filled with locals, as you will get the most of it this way. Get around and look for it and try to get it from an authentic Chinese, otherwise you will get a bad feel when tasting it. One pot of noodles would cost you merely a dollar, which is nothing compared to what you get: a hot, tasty dish that will get you up and running even in the coldest winter mornings and of course the most important thing, the whole Chinese culture in a little white spoon.
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