China is indisputably a foodie's paradise. From Sichuan's spicy, tongue-numbing food to Guangdong's famous dim sums, Chinese food can be categorized into roughly eight culinary types depending on the region.
But Beijing food, with its rich tradition and an extensive menu of distinctive dishes, could not fit into any of the eight cuisines.
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Beijing is the best place where you can find some creative ways to enjoy the sweet little red fruit.
Tanghulu (literally meaning "sugar gourd"):
It has nothing to do with the gourd, but the snack is made of about a dozen hawthorn fruits stringed up on a stick. Each hawthorn is coated with melted sugar. Bright red hawthorn and crystal clear golden sugar is a perfect match, as well as the sour and sweet mixture of taste. It has long been the top-ranked Beijing snack for visitors from home and abroad.
Hawthorn Cake is a great appetizer when you do not feel like eating anything during the hot summer. Besides, it plays an important role in the famous dish Beijing roast duck. Try eating hawthorn cake together with the duck, and you will become a professional roast duck eater!
Another unique way of eating hawthorn is slicing and mixing it with pears. It is a traditional cold dish invented by those "Old Beijingers" (people born and lived in Beijing for generations).
Lv Da Gun (Fried Chop Rice Cake) is one of the famous snacks in Beijing. It is mainly made of glutinous millet, soybean noodles and red beans or brown sugar. The millet is rolled with stuffing and then rolled with bean noodles. The taste is sweet, fragrant, soft and waxy. It has both the flavour of soybean and the sweetness of stuffing, which is very popular. The soybean flour sprinkled in the production process is like the yellow soil raised by a wild donkey in the outskirts of Beijing, so it is named "Lui Da Gun" or "Donkey Roll".
Peking Roast Duck
If you are visiting Beijing, Peking duck is a delicacy you must not miss. Here are some suggested restaurants famous for making the best Peking duck.
Traditionally, there are two ways of cooking a Peking duck: the hung oven roasting -- featuring pleasant smell of fruitwood and crisp skin and the closed oven roasting -- which means tender and juicy meat.
From choosing, preparing, drying to slicing a duck, more than 20 steps have been elaborated in the guidebook for cooking a Peking duck under both methods.
Items that are usually served with Peking duck, including lotus-leaf-shaped pancake, cucumber sticks, shredded onion and white sugar, are also specified in either weight or amount.
Where to taste?
Located at the central axis of Beijing City, Qianmen Street is a famous pedestrian street for shopping and sightseeing.
Qianmen Street is a symbol of genuine local culture. It has many of China's time-honoured brands, including Quanjude, a Chinese restaurant known for its Peking roast duck. Visitors can enjoy a traditional Chinese way of life here.
Although the Fermented Mung Bean Milk is said to help with blood vessel dilation, increase appetite, facilitate digestion and eliminate toxins, not everybody can stomach its strong taste.
In addition to the food, you can also experience the folk culture, such as sugar figure blowing art, a traditional Chinese form of folk art using hot, liquid sugar to create three-dimensional figures.
Quanjude made the first hung oven style Peking duck in 1864. After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the restaurant played an important role in the foreign affairs arena as its Peking duck became a favourite of many foreign leaders, including the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro, former Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh, and Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Bianyifang is a 600-year-old brand, dating back to the Ming Dynasty. It is known for cooking Peking duck in closed oven style. In recent years, the restaurant has developed an award-winning Peking duck dish by immersing the duck in vegetable juices, which improves its taste and nutrition.