I’m not a big meat eater and also rather squeamish and paranoid about getting food poisoning so this didn’t bode well when it came to finding food in Beijing. (Spoiler: I later got food poisoning in Malaysia and yes, it was as terrible as I feared). Eyes will roll but alas, I did not try the famous Beijing duck. I don’t doubt it’s tasty but I just can’t eat things that resemble corpses, sorry…!
Beijing was also my first stop in my travels and the first time I’d been to mainland China so it was safe to say I was suffering from some culture shock. Calle me a wuss but my instincts told me to seek some comforting and familiar food. Here stepped in the Opposite House.
I’d read about the Opposite House before I even left home so was keen to check it out anyway. It’s a fancy ultra-modern arty hotel set in the expat neighbourhood of Sanlitun. Of course I couldn’t afford their hefty room prices but I was certainly going to sample their edible delights which were more reasonable. Unfortunately I forgot to get any photos of the interior (apart from their large green dinosaur – don’t ask) but you can see plenty on their website.
I had breakfast there a couple of times: they offer a mini buffet for a fixed price but you can also order just from the menu. I didn’t sample the buffet myself but it looked good and healthy. My breakfasts of choice were pancakes and waffles which were yummy, although not the best I’ve ever had. On my last in Beijing the city flooded so instead of walking around with my feet submerged in water, I sought solace in the Opposite House and waited for the rain to stop, enjoying spaghetti and churros. Yum yum. I can’t remember how much the dishes cost but it wasn’t outlandish and the ambience of the place is very chill and quiet, unlike actual Beijing, so a welcome retreat. Plus they have free wi-fi! A perfect place to get some work done or just read a book.
However, I did still eat authentic Chinese in Beijing! One place I ate at was Lost Heaven: a Yunan Folk cuisine restaurant. They have several chains across China. I really wanted to sample some different Chinese foods but in a place that didn’t serve whole animals on plates…! Lost Heaven met this criteria and I’d heard good reviews plus it just looked cool in the photos. The interior has ornate chairs and table settings decorated in Yunnan style.
To eat, I had Gung Po chicken, golden triangle rice and Burmese shrimp salad. I was completely stuffed and unfortunately couldn’t finish every yummy dish. The downside of dining as a solo traveller!
Lost Heaven is probably a bit pricey for what it is but I suppose you’re paying more for the ambience and interior rather than just the food itself. I also checked out their chain in Shanghai which was similar and had a cool atmosphere as it was on the Bund, but the restaurant itself was almost pitch black inside! But it was certainly unique and they’ve got an amazing bar apparently.
Let me know what your favourite ’boutique’ eateries are in China!