We had only been to China when we went as a family with hubby’s parents, brothers, sister-in-laws and niece to visit their relatives in Xiamen. There wasn’t much touristy things that we did except to eat and eat and eat with his relatives.
So we wanted to go China as a tourist for the longest time and hubby said that the starting point of visiting China has to be Beijing.
We were glad that we were able to find a good slot this year to finally fulfil our wish of climbing The Great Wall, tour the Palace Museum and eating Peking Duck!
After my initial blurness thinking that our flight was 10.30am instead of 8.30am, we still made it in good time to collect our Changi Recommends WiFi router, grabbed breakfast at Heavenly Wang, and boarded the plane in time. We liked being on the upper deck of A380! It felt like lesser passengers, and we had great service from the air steward and stewardess 🙂
Our last meal in Beijing was 涮肉 (typically mutton shabu shabu), and we wanted to try the 老北京铜锅 which is a traditional bronze hotpot with charcoal inside and a trench of water at the rim for shabu-ing the meat.
We found one near our hotel that looked quite traditional (because it’s housed in an old traditionally-looking building which we later realized was what the name of the restaurant 四牌楼 referred to) and had a few customers and has the words 百年老店 (which meant that it was a time-tested brand and literally around for 100 years), so we figured it should not be too bad.
Of course, there were also many restaurants that claimed to be 百年老店 or 老字号 as we had found out in this trip, haha.
We were still feeling full from our super late and filling lunch, but we wanted to have a little supper before returning to the hotel.
We checked out the eateries near the hotel, and 沙县小吃 Shaxian Delicacies looked rather popular despite being almost 10pm (沙县 Shaxian is a province in 福建 Fujian, though we were not sure if everything served here was of 福建 Fujian origin).
We shared the following:
- 猪肚汤馄饨 Wonton Soup with Pig’s Stomach (¥16): This was actually a rather yummy herbal soup! The wonton skin was very thin, and the fillings quite flavorful. The pig’s stomach was very tender and clean, without any odour. If you do not like pig’s stomach, there are a variety of other soups available, but we suspect the base is the same herbal soup.
- 飘香拌面 Piaoxiang Ban Mian (¥7): Initially hubby ordered 葱油拌面, which is dry noodles tossed with a fragrant oil mixture. The friendly shop owner asked if hubby wanted sesame sauce because that is known as 飘香 (loosely translated to fragrance). I think somehow the owner knew hubby very well, haha. We immediately changed our order and we had a very happy hubby. The sesame sauce was indeed very fragrant, and the noodle was of the right firmness.
What a surprise find! Tummies happy and warmed, we made our way back to the hotel.
- Location: 228 Dongsi North Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China, 100007 北京市东城区东四北大街 228号 (Google Map)
- Directions: Take Subway Line 5 to 张自忠路 Zhangzizhong Road Station (Exit C).
四季民福 Siji Minfu was another highly recommended place to go to for Peking Duck, and there was a relatively new outlet near the East Exit of 故宫博物院 The Palace Museum where one could savour the majestic beauty of the palace while munching on the delectable ducks (if you can get a seat by the window, that is).
It was almost 3pm when we left 故宫博物院 The Palace Museum (6 hours of walking and we still couldn’t finish all the exhibits), and we were starving!
We still had to queue despite the odd hours, but there were snacks available while we waited, so it was not too bad.
We had originally intended to visit 故宫博物院 The Palace Museum aka 紫禁城 Forbidden City earlier on in our trip, but we had to exclude:
- weekends (terrible crowds),
- Monday (closed),
- Tuesday (we discovered that schools get free entry on Tuesday which could only mean more crowds).
So we were really left with Wednesday to go…
Based on our experience with security checks the previous day at 天安门广场 Tiananmen Square (which is the usual starting point that 90% of the tourists would use to get to 午门 Meridian Gate, the only entrance to the 故宫博物院 The Palace Museum), we opted the following route which was about 15 minutes walk but we were glad we did because going through the security check at 天安门广场 Tiananmen Square was really a nightmare 🙂 :
王府井 Wangfujing is a popular shopping area in Beijing with big shopping malls gathered along the main walking street.
It is also famous for 王府井小吃街 Wangfujing Food Alley, where visitors can show off their bravery by eating all kinds of insect snacks.
There are of course traditional Beijing street foods like 烧烤羊肉串 BBQ lamb sticks, 卤煮 stewed intestines, 冰糖葫芦 sugared candies etc. and souvenirs and toys for kids too. The atmosphere is lively and buzzing with people walking around with food in their hands and looking at toys and souvenirs and just shouting at each other.
After a delightful morning at 颐和园 Summer Palace, we exited through it’s East Exit and took a short stroll to a nearby Yunnan restaurant for a late lunch.
This is a restaurant chain specialising in Yunnan cuisine with 18 outlets over China (mostly in Beijing).
This year happened to be the restaurant’s 7th anniversary, so we opted for the Anniversary Set at ¥177 (usual price ¥210), which consisted of 黑松露牛肝菌焖牛蛙 Braised Bull Frog with Bolete and Black Truffle, 原味汽锅鸡 Steam Pot Chicken, 鸡丝凉米线 Cold Rice Noodles with Shredded Chicken, 盖菜炒山药 Sauteéd Leaf Mustard with Chinese Yam.
Constructed in Year 1267 in the Yuan Dynasty, 南锣鼓巷 South Luogu Alley is located in one of the most popular preserved hutong areas, with locals living in the surrounding. There were officers and signboards at the little alleys when we walked along the stretch of 南锣鼓巷 South Luogu Alley, to remind visitors not to disturb the residents.
There were quite a few souvenir shops and cafes, but we were looking for this very popular 文宇奶酪店 Wenyu Cheese Shop.
There was quite a queue (though we overheard some locals walking by who mentioned that this place was quite empty in the day time), and we got ourselves a 原味双皮奶 Double-layer Steamed Milk (¥14). Made from fresh milk, the first layer looked rather wrinkly, and the flavour was surprisingly light and refreshing. Not bad at all!
We were on our way to 雍和宫 Lama Temple when we spotted 雍Cafe Yong Cafe having 50% discount for takeaway coffee.
And so our first cup of latte in Beijing cost only RMB15!! For this price, the coffee was not bad.
And it felt really good to have something hot to drink in the cold 🙂
- Location: No. 18 Yonghegong St, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing Shi, China, 100007 北京市东城区雍和宫大街18号 100007 (Google Map)
- Directions: Take Subway Line 2 or 5 to 雍和宫 Yonghegong Station.
- Hrs: 8am – 7pm
After dinner at 烤肉季 Kaorouji, we strolled around the area, which had plenty of night-life activities! Bright lights everywhere, it was definitely different from what we have seen so far.
We also went to the nearby 烟袋斜街 Yandai Xiejie aka Skewed Tobacco Pouch Street, which is named after the Chinese pipe, 烟袋 Yandai, that was traditionally sold on this street. Despite being a relatively short street, there were many interesting shops selling a wide variety of stuff.
After we had walked enough to create some space in our stomach, we went back to this 吕记北京甑糕 that we saw when walking from the Subway station earlier.
The word 甑 (zeng in fourth sound) refers to the ancient kitchen utensil made of clay that was used to steam mainly rice.
For ¥20, we got a set of 4 cakes with all 4 flavours and toppings. The texture of the cake reminded us of Kueh Tutu aka Putu Piring, and the flavours were sweet and tangy, making it a lovely dessert!
- Location: 6 Qianhai Dongyan, Shichahai, Xicheng Qu, China, 100009 北京市西城区前海东沿6号 100009
- Directions: Take Subway Line 8 to 什刹海 Shichahai Station (Exit A2).