This over-the-top palace of Cantonese delights at the Four Seasons wows from start to finish. Red braised pork belly with abalone, simmer prawns with black garlic and artfully crafted dim sum are all on a level few others can begin to match. The same goes for the bill, however.
Dinner for two 800RMB.
High Cantonese cuisine meets the urban heights of Beijing's central business district. Xin Rongji may look like a relic of the Mao days, soaked in Chinese spirit baijiu, but the food tells a different story. Tangy lobster bisque, freshly steamed river shrimp and the ultimate braised yellow croaker headline.
Dinner for two 500RMB.
Ling Er Jiu's hefty bowls of noodles are almost addictive. Fiery chilli oil, mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorn oil, sharp black vinegar and some of the city's absolute best Xi'an style hand-pulled belt noodles. Don't miss the slow-cooked pork roujiamo – also known as a 'Chinese hamburger'.
Dinner for two 60RMB.
Country Kitchen serves rustic dishes with a reverence for ingredients and natural flavours that don't typically feature highly in northern Chinese cuisine. From sea cucumber with pork and cabbage to Beijing roast duck and simmer prawns, Country Kitchen is a go-to spot for first-time visitors.
Dinner for two 450RMB.
A Beijing alleyway favourite for large groups, Dali Courtyard serves staple dishes from China's southern Yunnan Province. Don't miss the tofu skin salad with mint and lime, dry-fried beef with potatoes, roasted river fish with lemon grass and prawns fried with salt and kaffir lime leaves. Not to mention grilled Yunnan cheese.
Dinner for two 300RMB.
The first and last word when it comes to Modern Sichuanese cuisine in Beijing. Modern when it works, traditional when it's essential, the kitchen at Transit turns out some of the best representations of China's heart of spice, Sichuan province. From numbing, cold poached chicken in chilli oil to steamed perch marinated in linseed oil, or a massive trumpet of chongqing dry-fried beef with dried chillies, Transit is a must-visit for any fan of spice.
Dinner for two 650RMB.
Zhang Mama serves up Sichuan food for the masses – queues for this place have caused more than one traffic jam, blockading the sidewalk and even bleeding into the street. It's no mystery as to why: cheap, fast and above all tasty, Zhang Mama's twice-cooked pork and cold poached chicken can hardly touch the likes of Transit, but at this price we can afford to live a little.
Dinner for two 150RMB.
Dressed-up staples from Shaanxi province at this swanky business lunch spot. Its location may annoy – on the fifth floor of a mall in a rather inaccessible corner of Beijing's central business district – but what Zhen Ai Zhongguo lacks in location it makes up for with delicate braised pork sandwiches; twice-fried whole chickens, dripping with salty juice; and masterfully crafted bowls of digongmian noodles.
Dinner for two 400RMB.
For dishes from China's far western frontier, Xinjiang province, there are many pretenders but only one Bayi Laoye. With a madhouse, carnival decor and even more chaotic service style in every one of its numerous, massive marble-clad locations, a meal at Bayi is always an event. But the roasted lamb skewers, mutton fried with Xinjiang flat bread, house-made yoghurt with brown sugar and freshly baked buns stuffed with spiced lamb are all well worth the stress.
Dinner for two 200RMB.