The range of eating options in Beijing is unparalleled to any other Chinese city. Beijing’s culinary adventures range from steaming food stalls, hole in the wall eateries to five-star restaurants. Local snacks are a special feature of Beijing. A popular tourist destination is the Wangfujing Snack Street. It is located south of Haoyou Department Store, Wangfujing Business Street, Dongcheng District. If you are brave enough to take public transportation, the following bus routes run near the snack street: 20, 37, 41, 59, 103, 104, 120, 420, 802 (get off at Wangfujing Stop).
At the Wangfujing Snack Street, you can nibble not only the local Beijing flavors, but those of other regions as well. Most snacks start at 5 Chinese Yuan (less than $1). The Wangfujing Snack Street is really tiny and may be easily overlooked. An ornate archway will greet you. Make sure to wear sneakers; as the streets are often wet and smelly – even in the summer time.
The range of snacks will surprise you. There are the sweet and the savory. Some snacks to try:
The first stall off Wangfujing Avenue has skewered scorpions on sticks. You can still see the little legs wriggling before they get cooked. Man up! This is an experience of a lifetime. A skewer of three costs RMB 15.
Fried Crocodile. Can you say tastes like chicken? Seriously, it takes like deep fried breaded chicken tempura. The texture is more smooth and chewier. Yum. Just close your eyes and don’t think about the crocodile.
Hai dan, or sea urchin. Peel it open and slurp up the gooey yellow innards. My stomach started grumbling a bit after this. Won’t be trying these again.
For those who want to play it safer in the food stalls, try the bing. These massive bing (aka burritos) are wraps filled with savory sautéed vegetables RMB 5. You can’t find that good a deal in the United States.
Jiucai bing (韭菜饼) or jiucai you bing is a Chinese pancake, but unlike a true pancake, it is made from dough instead of batter. It is a green onion pancake using non-leavened flatbread folded with oil and minced scallions (green onions).
There’s also the lamb kebabs pick up Xīnjiāng or Muslim Uighur cuisine.
Lastly, roasted quail is one of my favorites. Nothing really exotic as many Asian household have quail in the US. Nice flavor. Good flavorful, crispy skin and succulent.