A funny and somewhat snarky look at some of Beijing’s most unique restaurants... Diners choose restaurants according to tastes, environment and services; and in the current “service first” society, services become more and more important. However, are there any original restaurants left? Do you see any restaurants with signs like “No entry without reservation” or “No credit cards! More cash is needed due to high prices”? If these kinds of restaurants exist would you go there for dinner? Would you visit them because of their different and unique nature? The following restaurants are my recommendations for the five most unique and chockfull of character restaurants in Beijing.
Find Top 1 and 2 most unique restaurants in Beijing here
3. Zi Teng Lu 紫滕庐
It’s better to talk about romance here rather than politics. Enter Donghua Gate, go westward and pass through Meridian Gate Square of the Imperial Palace. At midnight, where the world famous Three Tenors show their beautiful voices for US dollars, you can see towering red walls, somber archways, a waning moon crossing the sky and a jackdaw perched at night – it’s really a good place for kisses. When you arrive at Xihua Gate, you can see a scarlet corner flag at the side of the street floating back and forth idly in lights, with a large character reading “tea.” Entering the restaurant, you can see ancient furniture from all over China collected by the owner. A waitress dressed like a countrywoman unfolds a fan with the menu written on it in front of you. The menu consists of delicate stir-fried dishes, plus pots of biluochun tea, jugs of Shaoxing wine and ginger plum. It’s wonderful to drink on these ancient tables and chairs between folding screens, and a perfect place to whisper sweet nothings to a loved one.
1. Try to pretend that you understand everything in the restaurant, including the tea and various paintings and calligraphy.
2. The owner is from Taiwan, so it’s better to talk about romance rather than politics in the restaurant.
4. No Name Bar 后海银锭桥酒吧
Don’t put on airs. The most wonderful thing about this bar is that it doesn’t even have any name or symbol. The owner, surnamed Bai, is quite the individual. Even when the bar is totally empty, they will tell you “No seats” if you are disagreeable to their eyes or go without reservations, even if you are the brother-in-law of Li Ka-shing. The bar’s ancient wooden architecture matches perfectly the neighboring old Yinding stone Bridge. There is a row of wooden windows opposite the withering trees and cold moons of Houhai. The cold water of the lake makes you think of the drowning of Lao She, until you suddenly realize that he didn’t drown himself here. The Shicha Sea and Houhai are soaked in silver and cold brightness, with the former residences of Soong Ching Ling, writer and poet Guo Moruo, and Marshal Ye Jianyin distributed at random along the lakeside. There is even Prince Gong's Palace and the former site of Fu Jen Catholic University just a little farther away.
1. Don’t put on airs. The waiters are rather snotty and won’t even wish to respond you if you are disagreeable to their eyes.
2. It is not convenient to visit the john here because the toilet is quite small. You can go to the public toilet in the hutong area 70 to 80 meters away, but the public toilet is in an open one, and freezes you in winter. It is suggested that you drink red wine to slow metabolism.
5. Li Jia Cai Restaurant 厉家菜餐厅
Pay attention to national unity. There is no billboard but only a line of shapeless and twisted red characters on the edge of the courtyard door: Yangfang Hutong No. 11. Enter through the courtyard door and you can try the most famous Imperial Cuisine in Beijing—Family Li’s Cuisine. Of course, if you don’t reserve seats in advance, you’ll have to come back at a later date. At the very beginning, this small courtyard restaurant only served 1 table of dishes each day for a dozen eaters at the price of RMB 200 per person. Now they’ve opened another side room with two more tables, serving dinners for 20 persons maximum. The owner of the restaurant is Professor Li Shanlin, 82, a graduate from Tsinghua University’s Department of Architecture, who always walks around quietly, talking about the dishes in Chinese and English. Family Li’s Cuisine is the family dishes preferred by Professor Li’s grandpa Li Shunqing, the chancellor of Imperial House of the Empress Dowager. Through several generations of pondering, Family Li’s Cuisine has taken shape. From the photos exhibited in the restaurant, we know that ambassadors of almost all developed countries and some developing ones have brought their wives for dinner here.
1. Family Li’s Cuisine is very special but not quite delicious, so you should go there but shouldn’t go there too often.
2. Li’s family is has a long political history, so pay attention to national unity and don’t say too much about Han jingoism. Never refuse to pay the bill due to ethnic reasons in the past.
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