I love China … the crowds, the smog, the food, the scenesters, the temples, the Forbidden City, the shopping, the growth, the confusion, the serenity, the people … I love China.
Ten years ago, check that, even 5 years ago on my second visit there, I only saw the tourists China, but mostly that was because that’s all there was to see. Not that there was only a tourists China that was extant, but because the real China was hard to access in Beijing. Today, with an explosively developed middle class, there are stores and hotels, restaurants and nightclubs, young scenesters in the parks and business men on lunch breaks. Beijing is a happening baby.Red Capitol Club and the Flying Red Flag restaurant are 2 great eateries embracing the kitsch of the Cultural Revolution. These are popular eatertainment venues that real Chinese go to for food and a fond nostalgic look back at Mao’s China. The food is better at The RCC than the FRF. The RCC is also a great place to catch government ministers out on the town with their mistresses and bodyguards don’t miss it.
Guo Li Zhuang is the world’s first restaurant specializing in the male anatomy of over 30 different creatures. Business men go here to eat for sport and they sit in private rooms munching away on seal penis soup, which you can also try for 300$ a bowl. I go for the cheaper donkey or yak penis. Tastier and cheaper. Speaking of donkey, head out of the city to the Chaoyang district, site of the 2008 Olympics and check out the donkey restaurants there … it’s the other red meat. And it’s really good.
But save your appetite for the Donghuamen night market. If you want some serious street eats, this is the place. Simmering beef balls, hand rolled fungus and roast pork pancakes, grilled squid skewers, sea urchins on the half shell…it’s all here. I could eat on this street every night of the week, and it’s the perfect diversion before a night out on the town and you must go to Philippe Starck’s LAN club. Starck designed the place but the food is amazing, the crowd is A list and the bars, music and hostesses are off the hook. A night at LAN makes you feel like you are in Paris or London, and that speaks volumes about Beijing and where it’s at these days.
See you at the Olympics!