Fairmont Beijing is a rose glass-clad urban sanctuary best known for its East-meets-West vibe in the heart of the business district and a walk away to the Silk Market. Truly illuminating inside and out in opulent shades of bronze and gold, the hotel stays just on the favourable side of posh, with guest rooms that mix marble floors and deep carpets, Japanese tech toilets, bathtub TVs and a pillow menu.
I did have one of the best meals in my life at Fairmont Beijing, so it’s no lie they really do some of the most exquisite dining experiences. You’ll find flavourful western cuisine at their multi-award winning bistro The CUT that specialises in the finest steaks, while a plethora of Chinese cuisines from Peking duck to Cantonese dim sum can be tasted at their Chinese dining restaurant Lunar 8.
The CUT Steakhouse
8 Yong An Dong Li
Jian Guo Men Wai Avenue, Chaoyang District
Beijing’s top destination for steaks offers the finest cuts of both grain fed and grass fed beef from Australia and North America. Choose from the succulent steaks and fresh seafood to fire up on the grill or try the innovative chic epicurean dishes, all which can be viewed from the dazzling open kitchen.
During this trip, I had the pleasure of relishing in the gastronomic creations of The CUT‘s newly appointed Chef De Cuisine Christoph Zoller.
The new selection of starters have revealed Zoller’s refined touch to the menu. For example, the lobster salad hits all the right notes on flavour and texture, with the help of a tomato carpaccio and basil panna cotta. Without a doubt, it is a transformative dish, one that’s hard to forget.
Moreover, the hot infused poultry tea soup has been stylised to include dumplings stuffed with warming coq au vin, with the broth remaining perfectly light and flavourful.
It is evident that The CUT takes a comprehensive approach to the art of steaks, for their glorified high-end Australian Wagyu beef filet mignon is by far the heartiest and most outstanding, and is definitely something you have to taste to believe.
The pan fried duck foie gras served with apple mashed potato and shallot confit is also another fantastic dish, and is arguably one of the best I’ve encountered in my life so far. If travelling to Beijing wasn’t such a trek from Perth, I’d visit for their luscious foie gras all the time.
Silky smooth chocolate ganache from the modern tiramisu would’ve been the ideal note to conclude my meal on, but I was greedy and went with the additional spring garden dessert that had lychee dumplings and a lemon sorbet for that extra depth of flavour – and naturally I was overly full by then, but what a wonderful, wonderful way to end the evening.
Zoller should be proud: The CUT steakhouse is highly recommend.
Mr Shi’s Dumplings
74 Baochao Hutong
Gulou East Street, Houhai
This small hole-in-the-wall mainly caters to foreigners but serves excellent pan-fried and water boiled dumplings, from pork, lamb and shrimp to egg and vegetarian selections. Try for tasty homestyle dishes if you’re not too fussy with environment.
N4-36 Sanlitun Village North
11 Sanlitun Road
Here you will find excellent modern Sichuan fare, including the spicy Sichuan chicken cold cut that uses an organic young chicken for a dish full of chilli perfume and peppercorn mouth-numbing deliciousness. At Transit, the floral scents of southeast Asia marry with the jazz of chillies, ending with a mouthful of surprises that evoke assertion.
Temple Restaurant Beijing (TRB)
23 Shatan Beijie
Dongcheng District, Houhai
One of my most memorable meals in Beijing also took place within the walls of this high-end globetrotter’s trifecta that is unique mainly because of its location in a 600-year-old temple complex. The menu is European – heavily French-inflected – but it incorporates local elements as well. Go for the impeccable service and delightful details, like their impressive select of house-made breads at the table, their pot-roasted lobster with aubergine caviar and sauce vierge, or their suckling pig confit that is done to perfection with impossibly crispy skin.
Peking Duck, Private Kitchen
2015 Vantone Center, 6A Chaowai Dajie
Chaoyang District, Workers’ Stadium
The cosy restaurant, decked out in multicoloured Chinese kites and birdcage-fitted lanterns, is known in the capital for the most famous dish and other fowl-centric delicacies. The carving of each mahogany duck is always seamless and perfectly executed each time. Another thing to note is their set menus, which all include succulent Peking duck, are good value and include other classic dishes like kung pao shrimp and green beans in sesame sauce.
L404A, South Tower, The Place
9 Guanghua Lu
This chain specialises in distinctive Yunnan cuisine that keeps both locals and expats coming back. Their menu offers different kinds of mushrooms, including a less sweet and more spicy twist on one of China’s most popular mushroom dishes – kung pao mushroom. Their beef vermicelli in clay cup is also designed to be enjoyed individually, and is undoubtedly alive and kicking with spice and flavour.
Da Dong Roast Duck
1-2 Nanxincang Guoji Dasha, 22A Dongsishitiao
Dongcheng District, Workers’ Stadium
Da Dong’s ability to transcend the duck genre is marked by its hallmark fowl, a crispy, lean bird without the usual high fat content, plus plum or garlic sauce, scallions and pancakes. Simply dip a slice of duck skin in the sugar provided alongside other condiments, and be surprised by how beautifully the imperial predilection works.
Tried and true.