Wanfeng Snacks City, which opened on Tuesday, is an ideal place to try snacks from all over the country.
The three-floor venue has an area of 16,000 square meters and more than 3,000 varieties of snacks are available in 106 food stands, which can cater to 1,600 people.
The first floor has a big stage in the center and diners can eat while watching performances. The big Xinjiang food venue attracts a lot of attention with their freshly baked naan bread, grilled stuffed buns, and kebabs. An Inner Mongolian stand next to it has roast lamb, dried beef, cheese and milk tea.
The first floor also has famous Beijing snack brands, such as Yue Sheng Zhai with its brown-braised beef and lamb, and Nian Gao Yang, with glutinous rice cakes such as aiwowo, ludagun and fruit jelly.
The second floor has more snacks from various regions of China, besides a big area with typical packaged foods and handicrafts that make good souvenirs. The same floor also has private rooms overlooking the stage on the first floor.
The snack city is tourist-friendly and ideal for anyone curious about Chinese snacks. It is a great place to stroll around for a couple of hours during mealtimes. It is like a mega-sized buffet where one can choose whatever one wants and either sit down to eat or eat while looking around.
Daily, 10 am-9 pm, 306 Wanfeng Lu, Fengtai district, Beijing. (Turn north under Wanfeng Qiao, west of Fengyi Qiao on West Third Ring Road.) 010-6488-6868.
Olive oil is a good complement to Chinese food, giving it special tastes, says Habib Essid, deputy director and head of technical and promotion division, International Olive Council (IOC).
Essid was in Beijing last week to kick off a two-year promotion of olive oil in China by the IOC.
The IOC will organize promotional campaigns over the next two years in major cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, which will include publicity events and attendances at business fairs.
China presently consumes 40,000 tons of olive oil a year, most of which is imported, and the country has seen olive oil imports increase by 90 percent in recent years. Essid expects olive oil consumption to reach 100,000 tons by 2015.
"IOC statistics show that China has become the world's largest edible oil consumer since 2005," he says. "We hope to bring Chinese consumers a healthier option and higher quality foods through our olive oil and table olive events."
Established in 1959 and based in Madrid, Spain, the IOC has 17 member countries, besides 27 countries in European Union. The organization enhances cooperation between olive oil producing countries, establishes quality standards and promotes sales of olive oil internationally.
Dine like a Qing
Fang Shan Imperial Cuisine Restaurant is one of the few monumental State-run Chinese restaurants in Beijing. Established in 1959, the eatery is located on Qiongdao island in the middle of a lake in Beihai Park. The restaurant serves imperial style cuisine in houses that are cultural relics and with tableware bearing the same auspicious symbols as those in Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) imperial palaces.
A recent media tasting showed the charm of the traditional cuisine survives. Waitresses clad in traditional Qing Dynasty robes serve dishes presented like paintings. Kongpao prawn, a nice sweet-and-sour dish, is a fine example of its "renovated" cuisine. But traditional classics, such as braised sea cucumber, slow-braised venison with chestnut and fried pork tenderloin are all tasty winners. A relatively new dish, fried whelk slices with green bean sprout tasted especially refreshing.
In addition to traditional snacks like ludagun glutinous rice cake, and wandouhuang mashed pea jelly, the restaurant has sesame cake with minced pork that is one of the restaurant's most acclaimed dishes. It usually appears last but is a must-try.
Service is a bit matter-of-fact but polite and attentive. The set meal costs around 198 yuan ($29) per person, and a la carte 300 yuan per person.
Daily, 11 am-2 pm, 5-8 pm. Set meals only during weekend if no reservation. Qiongdao Island, inside Beihai Park, Jingshan Xijie, Xicheng district, Beijing. (Enter from East Gate.) 010-6401-1889