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Beijing Snacks

Beijing snacks, combining varied flavors from different nationalities like Han, Hui, Meng, Man and court snacks from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), include many kinds and form the characteristic of their own.

It is said that there are over two hundred kinds of snacks in Beijing, including dishes going with wine, such as Quick-Fried Tripe (Bao Du), Boiled Sheep's Head (Bai Shui Yang Tou), Flour-Pastry desserts, like Pancakes with Meat-Fillings (Rou Mo Shao Bing) and some other snacks for breakfast or as midnight snack, like Sticky Rice with Sweet Fillings (Ai Wo Wo) and Rolling Donkey (Lu Da Gun). What local Beijing people, especially elder ones like most are Mung Bean Milk (Dou Zhi), Fried Liver (Chao Gan) and Filled Sausage (Guan Chang).

The best way to eat well and cheaply in Beijing is to enter one of the ubiquitous restaurants where the locals are eating and pick a few different dishes from the menu. Truth be told, anyone familiar with Western currency and prices will find Beijing a very inexpensive city for food, especially considering that tipping is not practiced in China.

There are also lots of famous Restaurant selling snacks. Fangshan Restaurant sells Sticky Rice with Sweet Fillings and Pea-Flour Cake (Wan Dou Huang); Donglaishun Restaurant sells Cream Fried Cake (Nai You Zha Gao). In many Restaurant you may find some other things special.

In fact, there are too many places for snacks in Beijing for you to make a decision which one to go to. So my suggestion may be helpful for you to save some time. Generally speaking, there are four places popular of this kind. One is Duyichu Restaurant, sitting at 36 Qianmen Dajie, Chongwen District. It was opened in 1738, and is famous for its Shao Mai, which has both attractive appearance and delicious taste. Another is Nanlaishun in Xuanwu District, where you can find about seventy kinds of snacks. The third place is Longfu Temple (Longfu Si) Snacks Restaurant which mainly sell Islamic Snacks. The fourth one is Evening Market Snacks Street near Donghuaemen, Wangfujing. It is a place where most common people go to have snacks. Fangshan Restaurant is a place where snacks of royal family are available.

Apart from what are mentioned above in fixed places, you can find many other kinds along roadsides. For example, Sugar-Coated Haws on a stick (Bing Tang Hu Lu), which is sold everywhere in cold days and is one of the daintiest snacks. It looks brightly red, bearing a little sour and sweet. You can also try Roast Sweet Potato (Kao Hong Shu or Kao Bai Shu). Eat it when it is still hot, it is fragrant and sweet. I bet you will never forget it.

Shish kebab (Yang Rou Chuan) is another good choice. Xingjiang Shish kebab is a snack that is popular not only in Beijing but all over the country. Mutton is strung together on a skewer and roasted over a charcoal. It is continually turned and when it is done, salt, pepper and zi ran, which is a special Xinjiang seasoning, are sprinkled over it. It is a little salty, a little hot but hasn't any unpleasant taste.

If you have enough time you may saunter around and drop in small Restaurant, especially when the bigger ones have closed. You will find that it won't cost you much for your dinner, which is really good. You will find steamed bread, steamed dumplings, dumplings, noodles, and family-style dishes, which you probably couldn't see in bigger ones.

Quick-Fried Tripe (Bao Du)

Quick-Fried Tripe is an Islamic snack of tripe of sheep or cattle. When served, it is first cut into stripes or slices. Then, it is boiled in water. After it is cooked and dipped into sesame sauce it gets ready for eating. One of the famous Restaurant is Bao Du Man, which lies in Niujie, Xuanwu District with a history of more than one hundred years and still run by Man family.

Boiled Sheep's Head (Bai Shui Yang Tou)

Boiled Sheep's Head is another Islamic snack people eat while drinking some wine. It undergoes the following procedures. First, boil sheep's head in water without putting in any seasoning and then cut it into paper-thin slices, at last scatter over it with a kind of special salt.

Pancakes with Meat-Fillings (Rou Mo Shao Bing)

Pancakes with Meat-Fillings are a kind of court snack, eating as a breakfast dessert by Empress Dowager Ci Xi. When you eat it you need to hollow a pancake and fill it with some minced meat. The pancake is a little burnt outside while the inside is still tender. It tastes salty, delicious and a bit sweet.

Sticky Rice with Sweet Fillings (Ai Wo Wo)

Sticky Rice with Sweet Fillings was once a court snack in Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368). Sticky rice is first steamed, pounded into pulp, shaped into a ball and then filled with sesame and white sugar, pea-flour, jujube paste or some other fillings. Then it is spread over with rice flour. It looks frostlike, tastes smooth and flexible and its fillings are loose and sweet.

Rolling Donkey (Lu Da Gun)

Rolling Donkey is a kind of cake made of bean-flour and is a famous Islamic snack in Beijing. It is made from steamed glutinous millet or sticky rice, scattered with fried bean-flour and filled with red pea. After being cut into blocks, it is rolled in soya bean-flour, which is why this snack gets the name, L¨2 Da Gun. When you roll it in soya bean-flour, it looks like a donkey rolling on the ground, raising dusts.

Mung Bean Milk (Dou Zhi)

Mung Bean Milk, which was first drunk about one thousand years ago, is the Number one snack when people are talking about Beijing Snacks. It is actually remnant of mung bean when it is used to make starch. It looks grey-green and tastes sour and a little sweet. When served, it must go with pickles, which are thinly cut and sprayed with cayenne pepper oil. It will taste better, especially for those who try it for the first time. Most people will find it hard to swallow because of its flavor, but if you could manage to try for the second time, maybe you will like it. Some people have got into the habit of drinking it and they even would search everywhere and wait a long time in lines for it. Mung Bean Milk is also rich in protein, vitamin C and dietary fiber and has some effects like appetizing, relieving summer heat, detoxifying and some other effects that account for its popularity among many people.

You could find it in Jinxin Douzhi Restaurant, Ciqikou, Chongwenmenwai.

Fried Liver (Chao Gan)

Fried liver is actually done with such raw material as pig's intestines and some liver with soy sauce, mashed garlic, starch, aniseed etc. as seasonings. The intestine is boiled with seasonings and later the liver is added. When cooked, the juice is sparkling and clear while the intestine is tender and the liver is tasty. It is in fact not fried but boiled. But since it got the name in Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), people accepted it according to the custom. Tianxingju Chaogan Restaurant, the most well-known restaurant for Fried Liver is in Xianyukou Jie, Qianmen, Chongwenmen District.

Shao Mai (Pork Dumplings)
There are not many restaurants selling Shao Mai in Beijing and Duyichu Shaomai Restaurant, which lies in Qianmen Dajie and was named by Emperor Qian Long in 1752. It has the best reputation and attracts friends from home and abroad.
The wrappers of Shao Mai are made of flour, and it is rolled by a specially-made roller to form nice shape. Then it is put in different fillings in different seasons, usually young chives in spring, cucurbits together with mutton or vegetables in summer, crabs in autumn and pork with onion in winter. Steamed Shao Mai looks white and translucent, with beautiful pleats on the top, which look quite like sheaves of wheat heads or bunches of white flowers.

Fried Dough Twist (Ma Hua)
San child ancient name of fried dough twist is " annulus cake " , " cold " , crisp of quality of a material, sweet and goluptious. Annulus cake allegedly far have in times of the Warring States, become since Qin Han cold those who eat a red-letter day eat food surely.The San that Beijing ground installs door snack bar to make child fried dough twist, was awarded name of China of first whole nation by Chinese cooking association in December 1997 fastfood title.

Beijing provides an ideal opportunity to sample food from all over the country. Some of Beijing's best restaurants serve food from Sichuan, Hunan, Guangzhou, Tibet, Yunnan, Xinjiang, and more.

For vegetarians, Beijing's first pure vegetarian buffet restaurant is located a Confucius Temple, see Dongcheng District for further detail.

McDonald's has over 100 restaurants in Beijing, followed closely by KFC. As a rule of thumb, whenever there is a McDonalds, a KFC is no further than 100m away. There are also a fair number of Pizza Huts. However, visitors to Pizza Hut should be prepared to take a number and wait in line if they dine around 12PM-1:30PM and again from 6:30-7:30PM (peak hours), as the restaurant is very popular with young Chinese. You will pay on average ¥60-¥120. Origus has numerous locations throughout Beijing, and offers an all-you-can-eat pizza/pasta buffet for ¥39, including soft drinks and dessert bar. If you're in the mood for Texan fare, head for the Tim's Texas BBQ near the Jianguomen subway station. They'll happily provide you with your favourite American food and drink. Tony Roma's has a location in Wangfujing (in the Oriental Plaza). Korean restaurants are also very common in Beijing. A frequent meal is the grill-it-yourself barbeque, including beef, chicken, and seafood items as well as some vegetables including greens and potatoes.

All luxury hotels have at least one restaurant, which can be of any cuisine they believe their guests will enjoy. You will find French, Italian, American, and Chinese restaurants in most hotels. Restaurants that serve abalone/sharkfin are considered the most expensive restaurants in the city. Expect to pay upwards of ¥800 for a "cheap" meal at one of these restaurants, much more if splurging.

Sticky Rice with Sweet  For this snack, you needn't worry whether it is in season. It is supplied all the year round. With steamed sticky rice as the coating, it has a rich filling inside. The sweet filling is made from several saute kernels such as peanut, walnut and melon seeds.

Pea Cake  This snack is mainly available in spring when the pea is ripe. It is an imperial dish which Empress Dowager Cixi loved very much. It is sweet because sugar is added to the peas after they have been stewed for mashing. The Fangshan Restaurant in the  Beihai Park makes the most authentic Pea Cake. If there happens to be a temple fair in spring, the pea cake is sure to be served.

Fried Sandwich  This sandwich is a little different from your traditional variety. It has the paste outside and meat of sea cucumber, shrimp and pork inside. This item, fried to a rich golden color, is a really tasty snack for seafood lovers. To sample it, you are advised to go the Ruibin Restaurant in Xuanwu District.

Pancake  This is a very common snack in Beijing. There are many varieties, each having a different filling. The Horse-Hoof Pancake which resembles the hoof of a horse doesn't have any filling. The other kinds have bean paste, sesame, brown sugar or dried vegetable, and each has a distinctive flavor.

Some of the cheapest and delicious meals can be had on the streets. Savory pancakes  are one of the most popular street snacks, eaten from morning till night with most carts operating during the morning commute and then opening again at night for the after-club crowds and night-owls. This delicious pancake is cooked with an egg on a griddle, a fried dough crisp is added, and the whole thing is drizzled in scallions and a savory sauce. Hot sauce is optional. Diehard fans often go on a quest for the best cart in the city. This treat should only cost ¥2, with an extra egg ¥2.50.

If you have enough time you may saunter around and drop in small restaurants, especially when the bigger ones have closed. You will find that it won't cost you much for your dinner, which is really good. You will find steamed bread, steamed dumplings, dumplings, noodles, and family-style dishes, which you probably couldn't see in bigger ones.

You may ask, 'Is there a restaurant that supplies all the typical snacks?' Definitely yes. The Nan Lai Shun Restaurant supplies more than seventy kinds of snacks. It's also a good idea to go to the Dongfang Longfu Restaurant which excels in Beijing snacks with Islamic style. If you are enjoying yourselves at the Beihai Park, you may go to the Fangshan Restaurant in the park for the Imperial snacks. Also, you may make your way to the food streets to serve the purpose.

Recommended Restaurants

Nan Lai Shun
Location: No.12, Nancaiyuan Jie , Xuanwu District (near the west gate of the Grand View Garden)
Tel: 010-63534720, 010-63547846

Longfusi Snack Restaurant
Location: No.1, Longfusi Qianjie , Dongcheng District
Tel: 010-64060668

Huguosi Snack Restaurant (Huguosi Branch)
Location: No.93, Huguosi Dajie , Xicheng District
Tel: 010-66181705, 010-66181805

Rui Bin Lou Restaurant
Location: Building 7, Zhaogongkou , Fengtai District
Tel: 010-87263302

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