Anthony Bourdain was the first to admit that there were some destinations he could never visit enough to fully understand. Beijing – and China as a whole – certainly fit that description. China’s capital city is almost inconceivably massive, home to 21.5 million people, and a juxtaposition of Imperial history with modern Chinese economic and infrastructure growth. It’s home to restaurants of every style, type, and menu – including places you can find Chinese dishes you may have seen at restaurants elsewhere, at their origin.
Anthony Bourdain only filmed one episode in Beijing; it was the season 2 Asia Special of No Reservations. (This episode also included a visit to Chengdu in the Sichuan province.) As far as we know, this was his only visit to Beijing, but he visited China many other times, making trips to Shanghai, Harbin, and other parts of the vast country.
If you’re planning a trip to China and want to follow in the footsteps of Anthony Bourdain in Beijing, here’s your guide. Among Chinese cities, Tony didn’t visit as many places in the capital as others, but there are some interesting – and uniquely Beijing – dishes you can try at these spots. Grab your chopsticks and let’s dig in.
Liubiju Pickle and Sauce Shop
Anthony Bourdain’s first stop in Beijing is at an institution almost twice as old as the U.S.: Liubiju Pickle and Sauce Shop has been in business for almost 500 years! As their name suggests, they specialize in pickled, well, everything – and Tony tries several different preserved vegetables: squash, sprouts, peppers, imperial cucumber, and some “sinister-looking” pickled vegetable whose shape and resemblance will go unnamed here.
Li Qun Roast Duck Restaurant
Next, Bourdain meets up with several locals, including ex-pat Matt as well as others named George, Little Rock, and Lu Huong Yu. They head to Li Qun Roast Duck Restaurant, which is – again, as the name suggests – known for its “beak-to-beak” roast duck.
There, Tony and his dining companies dig first into duck’s feet and Chinese mustard sauce, followed by roast duck eaten on a thin crepe with sliced green onions and hoisin sauce. They also have plenty of Baijiu, China’s popular liquor.
Bǎo dū Zhēng (?)
To begin, I’m not totally sure about the name of this restaurant, so if you know better, please let me know in the comments.
Bourdain calls it “Bǎo dū Zhēng” or “Zheng’s sheep stomach,” and it’s located in one of Beijing’s Hutong historic neighborhoods. Here, he tucks into some more unusual dishes – even by Chinese standards. First, he tries tofu byproduct slow-cooked in sheep fat as an “amuse bouche;” his restaurant dining companion points out that in other parts of China, this is served to pigs.
Tony next has a tripe, a personal favorite. Specifically, he enjoys cow and sheep stomach in sesame pepper sauce, with a few glasses of “Chinese white wine” aka Baijiu.
Mian Ku Noodle Loft
Lastly, Anthony Bourdain heads to Mian Ku Noodle Loft to sample noodle dishes, an undeniably important part of Chinese cuisine. Here he has the 22m long green noodle dish and hand-cut and thrown noodles. He also tries thin noodles with salted eggplant sauce.
While Anthony Bourdain doesn’t visit many spots in Beijing, he does sample a lot of the cuisine. Have any questions about these places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Beijing, or are you able to provide more context to the places he visited? Let me know in the comments below!