The best food markets in Beijing

A guide to some of the best and most popular food markets Beijing has to offer

Zuojiazhuang Shengfu Market

Zuojiazhuang

A neighbour of Sanyuanli Market, Shengfu is decidedly more local. The market complex is not as easy to navigate as the linear Sanyuanli; a large central warehouse serves as the primary market space, with seasonal vendors and street food vendors spilling out into the surrounding park. Entrances are positioned on the four cardinal faces of the mostly square building, so it can be difficult to navigate at first, but it helps to remember the market is structured to reflect the availability of electricity. Meat and seafood vendors are scattered around the edges, in close proximity to power sources for refrigerators, alongside bakeries, nut roasters and grain vendors. The centre of the market is fruit and produce stalls.

Don’t miss The seasonal market and food court. Thanks to its park location, Shengfu has a cluster of related markets and food courts. The courtyard directly south of the main market hosts seasonal markets, which means hongbao, red lanterns and door dressings during Spring Festival; red flags galore for National Day and so on. But the real prize here is the food court: street hawkers swoop in to serve hungry marketgoers. We recommend the roubing (meat pancake) and the fresh Shanxi daoxiaomian (knifecut noodles).

Zuojiazhuang Shengfu Market, Zuojiazhuangjie Park. Open 7am-2pm daily.

Sanyuanli Market

sanyuanli

This market is the citywide standard for international produce, dry goods, meats and seafood. The layout is simple: the whole market stretches along a thin, straight hangar-style building with shopfronts on either side for about 300m. Stalls are grouped based on the wares: the entrance is dominated by fruit vendors, then come dry goods and preserved foods stores, which give way to meat and fish vendors at the middle of the long building. Past the meat and seafood you’ll find imported dry goods, dairy, frozen and canned food. The vegetable vendors and wholesalers fill up the end of the building; finally followed by kitchenware and equipment shops.

Don’t miss Le Fromager de Pekin. This local producer puts out fantastic soft cheese made right here in Beijing. Expect import prices but flavour and quality worthy of the capital.

Sanyuanli Market, 1 Xinyuanjie, Dongsanhuan. Open 9am-7pm daily.

Chaowai Morning Market

chaoyang market

The only morning market in downtown Chaoyang, Chaowai Morning Market is just a stone’s throw from expat haven Sanlitun but receives very little attention from foreign residents of the area. The market features all manner of common Chinese produce, frozen fish, local meat, fruit and nuts as well as household goods and kitchen supplies at considerably lower prices than other markets in the area.

Don’t miss The sesame seed roaster. Look out for the stall on the southeastern side of the main market. Alongside roasted seeds (from 8RMB) you can find freshly ground sesame paste by the jar – perfect for hotpot at home, making your own tangyuan or even sesame ice cream.

Chaowai Morning Market, east end of Chaowai Beijie. Open 7am-2pm daily.

Wangjing Street Market

wangjing

In the centre of all things Korean in the capital, this open market is the biggest one stop-shop for anything you could want from the peninsula. From Korean baked goods and noodles to imported barbecue cuts of beef short rib and more styles of ssami sauce than you can shake a stick at. Don’t miss the seafood stalls; when it comes to freshness, variety and price the shellfish, squid and octopus here are hard to beat.

Don’t miss Kimchi corner. The stalls towards the rear of the street specialise in traditional Korean preserved and pickled vegetables. These staples of the Korean diet vary widely in content and flavour. Make sure you sample before you buy; some are dangerously spicy or otherwise salty beyond belief.

Wangjing Street Market, North Gate, Wangjing Stadium Park. Open 7am-8pm (precise times vary).

Hot stock(ist) tips

Leave bargaining for the Silk Market
When it comes to foodstuffs, if you aren’t buying in bulk don’t expect to talk your vendor down. It’s considered a bit rude, if you can believe that.

Get a second opinion
If you think one vendor is overcharging, check with another vendor or two to see if the first price is far off. Shopping around is more than acceptable, but a bit of tact can go a long way.

Don’t like the look?
If you don’t like the look of those special peppers you had your heart set on, ask if they have better looking (and tasting) ones in the back. Hai you bie de ma? (还有别的吗?). You might even gain face for your discerning eye.

Loyalty has its rewards
It’s a simple fact: repeat customers get preferential treatment. If you buy from the same vendor at least once a week you’ll see real benefits. Expect recommendations, reserved choice cuts and discounts – not to mention the convenience of having a grocer who knows what you like and buy most often.

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