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Hotpots and Hutongs: Backstreets Dinner in Old Beijing

$60 US/person
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  • Fee includes everything consumed on the walk
  • Group Size: Max 8
  • Start/End: 7:00pm ~10:00pm
  • Duration: about 3.0 hours

The big, bold flavors of Northeast China combined with the historic imperial cuisine and humble fare of the capital’s many migrants are what makes Beijing’s dining scene unique. Steer clear of the crowded tourist markets featuring bugs and mystery meat – it’s best to get off the busy thoroughfares and into the hutong (alleyways) to explore the best food in town.

This dinner tour is a celebration of Lao Beijing (“Old Beijing”) – so expect the intense flavors and powerful dishes that have been fueling these northerners through frigid winters and sizzling summers for millennia. Over the course of three hours, we’ll enjoy more than 15 tastings at three seated stops. We’ll start with an edible history lesson, learning about Genghis Khan while dip-cooking meat and vegetables at the Mongolian-style hotpot that his army of fierce warriors invented. We’ll pair that with local beer and baijiu, China’s (and thus the world’s) most consumed spirit, as well piles of hand-stuffed boiled dumplings and the city’s famed “sauced meat” – a delectable local snack passed down through the ages.

Just outside the hutong, we’ll sample grilled kebabs made by Chinese Muslims from the country’s far northwest. We’ll also sink our teeth into the city’s can’t-miss street food: jianbing (Chinese crepe), local donkey burgers and jarred yogurt, before finishing up at a patriotic family-run chicken wing joint that does Beijingers proud. This experience is vegetarian- and kid-friendly.

Please note: We DO NOT visit the Wangfujing or Donghuamen Night Markets on this route. We believe China’s food is found where locals eat on a regular basis, not at places where eating pre-cooked food at over-inflated tourist prices is the norm.

How long are the Beijing culinary tours? Culinary tours last approximately 3 hours, with minimal walking between sampling spots.

How much do culinary tours cost & when do they run? Our culinary walk costs US$60 inclusive of all tastings stops and non-alcoholic beverages. With public tours scheduled almost every day of the week, there is sure to be one that fits your schedule.

How many people are generally on your culinary tours? Our maximum capacity is 8-10 people for most of our walks. If your group is larger, send us an email at walks@culinarybackstreets.com and we’ll work to accommodate your whole party.

What types of places do you visit? From jam-packed hole-in-the-wall noodle joints to queue-worthy street stalls, we lead you through a culinary world that is nearly impossible to navigate without a Mandarin speaking guide at your side. Your bilingual, native-English speaking guide is on hand to help translate, advise and answer any questions you have about life in China – and they’ll also fill you in on Chinese food traditions, local history and make recommendations for your time in Beijing.

Is the food in China safe? We only work with trusted vendors whom we’ve been frequenting for years. These stops are our absolute favorite places to eat – the same places we take our family and friends.

Is this activity suitable for vegetarians?   Yes, this activity is suitable for vegetarians.

What if I have allergies?  Nut and shellfish allergies have not been a problem in the past, however we cannot guarantee that the utensils and other cooking tools have not touched any of the food tour ingredients. Please bring your epi pen or other meds to the tour if you choose to participate.

Are your walks gluten-free?  We are not able to make substitutions for those with celiacs disease as soy sauce is very prevalent in our tour stops.

What languages are available for the tours? All of our public weekly tours are held in English. If you have a special request for a private tour, please send us a note to walks@culinarybackstreets.com and we will do our best to accommodate.

What type of payment do you accept? Once you have selected an available walk route and date, you will be directed to pay the fee or deposit for the walk. If you are registering for a walk that requires approval, your reservation request will need to be approved by an administrator before it is finalized and your card will not be charged until the walk is approved. Our credit card processor, Stripe, is certified to PCI Service Provider Level 1, the most stringent level of certification. None of your sensitive data ever hits Culinary Backstreets servers. It is all captured, processed, and housed on Stripes servers. Our booking system, Bookeo, also meets both Daily PCI Security Scanning and Security Verified Requirements.

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