Court Cuisine, as the name suggests, consists of dishes once prepared ex-clusively for the imperial family. Every dynasty in Chinese history had an “imperial kitchen” to prepare meals for the emperor and his consorts. The dishes were not only meticulously prepared, but also included rare and expensive foodstuffs, such as bear’s paws, birds’ nests, sharksfins, venison, sea cucumbers, duck webs and other delicacies of land and sea. The Court Cuisine of today is based on the dishes prepared by the Qing imperial kitchens but further developed ever since.
Restaurants of Imperial Cuisine：
Fangshan(lmitation Imperial) Restaurant is located on Qionghua Islet with a hill behind and a lake in front. You enter Beihai Park by the east gate, cross a bridge, tum right and walk along the lakeside for 5 minutes, you will get to the restaurant. The restaurant offers a picturesque view. There are 11 halls, large and small, which can accommodate a total of 250 people. All the dishes and desserts are imitations of imperial cuisine. Its dishes are carefully prepared and beautifully served. The taste is subtle and clear. The textures are crisp and tender. The restaurant is also famous for its delicate pastries, including pea flour cakes, kidney bean flour rolls, miniature corn cakes and sesame seed buns with minced meat filling. These pastries originated among the ordinary people of Beijing and there are interesting stories about how they were introduced to the Qing court. For instance, the corn cakes found their way into the court in 1900 when the Allied Forced of Eight Imperialist Powers occupied Beijing. On her flight to Xi’ an, 1, 200 kilometres by railway, Empress Dowager Cixi was so hungry that she ate a com cake, a staple food much that upon her re-turn to Beijing she ordered the imperial kitchen to make com cakes for her. But the chefs, afraid that ordinary cakes might be too rough for Cixi to eat, made miniature cakes with finely-ground corn flour and white sugar instead.
The Pavilion for Listening to Orioles Restaurant used to be a theatre in the Summer Palace where the Empress Dowager used to enjoy opera and music. The name implies that the imperial music was as beautiful as the singing of orioles. After 1949, it was changed to a restaurant. It is divided into eight dining rooms of various sizes in two courtyards and can seat up t0 500 customers at one time. During busy season, there are three sit for lunch in the restaurant: 11: 30 am; 12: 40 pm; 13: 30 pm.
The menu is based on the Imperial Cuisine, and the experienced chefs can prepare more than 300 dishes and pastries from the Ming and Qing imperial recipes.
Lijia Cai (Li Family Restaurant)
Add: 11 Yangfang Flutong, Denei Dajie, Xicheng District. Tel. 661 80107
A homely restaurant located at the home of Li Li in a small lane close to Houhai Lake and serving court cuisine and other Beijing dishes. Her great grandfather was the head of the Imperial guard in the Qing court. As such he had to taste all the dishes served to the imperial family and the recipes were passed from generation to generation. Reservations required.
Pavilion for Listening to the Orioles (Tingliguan)
In attractive rooms round a courtyard in the heart of the Summer Palace, this lunch restaurant is very popular with Western visitors. The food is an eclectic mixture of different Chinese styles, all of the dishes appealing to foreigners. Try the deep fried steamed bread and fresh fish from the Summer Palace’s Kunming Lake.
Clay Saucepan (Shaguoju)
Add: 60 Xisi Nan Dajie Xicheng District. Tel. 6602 1126
Clay Saucepan is the oldest restaurant in Beijing, claiming a history which goes back some 300 years. Perhaps the best known all-pork restaurant in Asia, it is said to have originated as a shop selling off pigs that the emperor had sacrificed for a good harvest.An all-pork banquet can be ordered in advance, or it is possible to try just a few of the famous dishes, such as deep fried pork liver or fried pork ribs, along with various soups and vegetable dishes.
Tanfu Restaurant (Tan Fu Dajiu Lou)
Tan Palace. 188 Xizhimennei Dajie. Tel. 6618 3162
Tan Family Restaurant. Beijing Hotel. 33 Dong Chang’an Jie. Tel. 6513 7766
A sub-school of Beijing cooking founded in the 19th century that features seafood. It is named after a Cantonese official who lived in Beijing and hired the best chefs in the capital to cook for him. The entire repertoire consists of approximately 100 dishes developed in their kitchens. Tan cuisine is a combination of both northern and southern styles.