We just had family visiting, and even though we only stayed in Beijing, we were able to give culinary insights to the greater China. From a feast at the Xinjiang provincial restaurant to an elegant dinner at a Yunnan restaurant, from noodle soup at a small place in a mall to Beijing roast duck at the famous duck restaurant Dadong, from home-cooked Chinese dishes to a Sichuan cooking class. We even throw in a good ole juicy burger to not overwhelm the Western palate with non-stop Chinese food.
But how do you find those great dining options?
Which restaurants to go to
The Beijing expat magazines are a great source for restaurant listings and reviews. Grab a free magazine or go online (see Resources for links to their websites) to see the latest news and reviews. The magazines are a great way to stay up-to-date on openings and closings, new menus, etc.
CityWeekend for example also has a great free app, where you can find restaurants and other venues, complete with description, reviews, address, directions and even a so-called taxi card that you can show to the taxi driver if you don’t speak much Mandarin. Another cool function of the app is called “venues nearby”. It shows you your location on a map and all the venues in close proximity.
Also a good source for Beijing restaurant reviews is Tripadvisor. It’s not just travelers posting there but also a couple of local expats.
Beijing as the capital city has representation of all the Chinese provinces. Each province has its own provincial restaurant to showcase the typical cuisine. A list of the provincial restaurants in Beijing with good descriptions can be found here. This is a great way to try different Chinese cuisines without traveling.
How much should you tip?
While there is a lot of variety in dining in Beijing, there is one commonality, which is there is no tipping. Period. It doesn’t matter if it is a Chinese or a Western restaurant, a hole-in-the-wall or banquet size place, tips are not expected. CityWeekend recently ran an interesting article on this topic.
Some higher end places may include a service charge, sometimes only for bigger groups. But the practice of leaving a tip beyond that is uncommon in China. So you don’t have to use your math skills to figure out the appropriate percentage to leave as tip. Just pay what the bills says, and you are done.
Dining out in Beijing is easy and fun, with a great variety at a reasonable cost. So go out, enjoy at great meal!