Best Family Eats 2009 – CBD

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Best Taiwanese
Packed to the brim with busy office workers, Bellagio is for kids who love to play grown-up while they dine amid ritzy décor. The offerings are reasonably priced (appetizers start from RMB 12, mains from RMB 30), and kids will enjoy this sweet Chinese cuisine. The pineapple fried rice, served in its very own pineapple, is a feast for the eyes, while the BBQ beef stir fry noodles are healthy as well as filling. Don’t miss their renowned shaved ice desserts, some piled precariously high. Traveling with kids or a stroller is a cinch because of underground parking and multiple elevators. Booths are available for families needing more space. Imogen Kandel



Daily 10am-10pm. 6/F, Shin Kong Place, 87 Jianguo Lu, Chaoyang District (6530 5658) $$ 鹿港小镇, 朝阳区建国路87号新光天地6层

See Directories for Sanlitun, Sanyuanqiao and Yayuncun locations.

Golden Jaguar
Welcome to a buffet lover’s paradise. For RMB 198 you can eat your way through every cuisine under the sun. From Indian to Japanese, Western to dim sum, it’s all laid out on pristine stainless steel. With so much to choose from, this gastronomical extravaganza will satisfy even the pickiest eaters. With live music, open kitchens and specialty food festivals aplenty, the kids will be endlessly entertained. As long as you can maneuver your way around the generally non-English-speaking staff, it’s money well spent. IK

Mon-Fri 11am-2.30pm, 5-10.30pm, Sat-Sun 11am-4pm. 4/F, North Bldg, The Place, 9 Guanghua Lu, Chaoyang District (6553 8888) $$$金钱豹, 朝阳区光华路9号世贸天阶大厦北楼4层

See Directories for Wangfujing location.

Best Dim Sum
Budding foodies will have a ball with the dim sum options at Horizon. The staff is attentive without being overbearing and the large menu provides plenty of options for the hard to please. Enjoy the attention to detail found in the presentation of the chicken mince balls (RMB 88) and the Chinese greens styled to resemble little fish. The seafood selection is impressive, with traditional delicacies such as braised sea cucumber and shark’s fin soup. With its moderate prices, Horizon is ideal for a night out on the town or for those kids who’ve earned a special treat. Take advantage of the all-you-can-eat dim sum on weekends (beverages not included). IK

Daily 11.30am-2.30pm, 5.30-10pm. 1/F, Shangri-La’s Kerry Centre Hotel, 1 Guanghua Lu, Chaoyang District (6561 8833 ext 41) $$ 海天阁, 阳区光华路1号嘉里中心饭店1层

Best Fancy Cantonese
For authentic Cantonese cuisine in upscale Asian-themed surroundings, Sampan is a can’t-miss. The full-photo menu offers options like sea snail and jellyfish for children and adults with adventurous palates (and deep pockets for exotic seafood). Novice diners can try BBQ pork buns, steamed broccoli and fried rice. Along with the display tanks of seafood available fresh to order, the kids will enjoy spotting Nemo among the coral in the tropical fish tank. Sampan is a great place for special occasions and for wowing visitors from out of town. Cap off the cultural experience with a visit to the nearby Ancient Observatory. Sonia Cahill

Mon-Sun 10.30am-3pm, 5.30-10pm. 1/F Gloria Plaza Hotel, 2 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District (6515 8855 ext 2155) $$$ 船餐厅,朝阳区建国门外大街2号北京凯莱酒店1层

Xihe Yaju
Sit behind glass walls while supping on seasonal steamed fish or lotus root with tender lamb (RMB 38) and watch the kids play in the safety of the courtyard. The forest-themed interior, complete with faux trees, will entertain the kids as they dine on dishes like sautéed lily with papaya (RMB 42). The dishes are decently sized and the wide selection of seafood is a healthy alterative to the standard Beijing fare. Burn off energy afterwards playing with the kids in Ritan Park. IK

Daily 11am-2pm, 5-10pm. Northeast corner of Ritan Park, Chaoyang District (8561 7643) $$$ 羲和雅居, 朝阳区日坛公园东北角

American Steak and Eggs
Best Big Breakfast
This American-style diner is great for feeding the hungry masses, and the big egg breakfast and bottomless coffee are perfect after a late night. The kids menu (RMB 29 for set meals) has all the standard fare, but you’ll also find kid-friendly options in the extensive regular menu. Look for healthy choices like the grilled chicken burger or spanakopita (spinach and feta in pastry). Breathe easy in the large non-smoking area and take advantage of the large tabletop space, where little ones can spread out. The giant cake display is reason alone to head to this longstanding eatery. IK

Daily 6.30am-midnight. Xiushui Nanjie, Jianguomenwai (directly north of the Friendship Store, one traffic light west of Silk Market), Chaoyang District (6592 8088/8788) $ 喜来中北美西餐, 朝阳区建国门外秀水南街(友谊商店北面, 秀水西边第一个红绿灯)

See Directories for Shunyi and Xicheng locations.

Tim’s Texas Bar-B-Q
Best Tex-Mex
This barbecue locale has a heart bigger than, well, Texas. The helpful, friendly staff will greet you with a variety of American-isms, including Nike’s classic catch phrase “Just Do It.” While waiting for taco salad (RMB 40) or Texas chili (RMB 45), browse the American paraphernalia (such as road signs, college flags and quirky slogans) and newspaper clippings on the walls. Meat lovers can share a BBQ plate (RMB 60 and up), but there are also vegetarian options available. Tim’s is best for families (and quietest) during weeknights. The non-smoking section upstairs keeps kids far away from smokers and close to restrooms. IK

Daily 9am-midnight. 14 Dongdaqiao Lu, on the corner of Guanghua Lu, Chaoyang District (6591 9161) $ 西部牛仔餐吧, 朝阳区东大桥路14号贵友大厦正北200米]

Xiao Wang Fu
Best for Impressing Visitors
This Ritan Park location is one of the loveliest locations to wine and dine in Beijing. With three floors and glass walls, you can’t miss the view of the surrounding gardens. Despite the restaurant’s slightly swanky appearance, Xiao Wang Fu’s English-speaking waitstaff caters to kids and grownups alike. The large menu boasts the best of Chinese cuisine, from Peking duck to other regional specialties. Pickier eaters should try the classic beef and potato (RMB 35) and the braised celery and lily (RMB 38) – the latter is a great dish for kids who usually loathe greens. With decent portion sizes, plenty of vegetarian options and dishes that are light on oil, Xiao Wang Fu is a good destination for fun, healthy fare. IK

Daily 9am-10pm. Inside the north gate of Ritan Park, Ritan Lu, Chaoyang District (8561 5985) $$ 小王府, 朝阳区日坛路日坛公园北门内

See Directories for Houhai and CBD locations.

Noodle Loft
Best Open Kitchen Concept
Noodle Loft transforms the humble miantiao into a sophisticated masterpiece – and makes eating a bowl of noodles anything but an ordinary experience. The centerpiece of the sleek two-floor restaurant is the open kitchen on the ground floor – and when we say open, we mean completely open, with no glass partitions. Sit at the barstools and your kids can watch as an assortment of signature dishes are made by hand, from cooks kneading dough to pulling and throwing noodles right through to boiling. Most of the noodle dishes are served with sauces on the side, a boon for picky eaters. Don’t miss the you mian lao lao, steamed buckwheat noodles served in a bamboo steamer and looking just like a rack of empty shotgun shells. The dish is served with three dipping sauces (lamb, vinegar and egg-and-tomato) so there’s something for everyone. There’s no clear non-smoking section, though parties with five or more can seek refuge in one of the many private rooms. Michael Wester

Daily 11am-10pm. 20 Xidawang Lu (south of Soho New Town by about 1km) (6774 9950/5372) $ 面酷,朝阳区西大望路20号

See Directories for Ditan Park location.

La Paleta
Best Place to Indulge in Mango Madness
Don’t be confused by La Paleta’s Spanish name – this cousin of well-known eatery Bellagio is pure southern Chinese in all its glory. With a wide selection of Cantonese-style bistro choices like dim sum, congee and stir-fried noodles, this ultra-hip, ultra-clean spot is a perfect destination for families with sophisticated teen (and pre-teen) kids. La Paleta has a sleek, modern dining room, a smoke-free second floor and a location that can’t be beat – just across the street from the tony Shin Kong Place mall in the CBD. Best of all, La Paleta has the same range of mouthwatering, eye-popping desserts that makes its sister restaurant Bellagio such a treat – mango smoothies so thick you eat them with a spoon; sago (tapioca) treats laden with coconut milk, watermelon and papaya; shaved ice smothered in condensed milk and tropical fruit – all of which satisfy the sweet tooth without the guilt trip of heavier desserts like ice cream. MW

Daily 11am-4am. L18 Huamao Shangyejie, 87 Jianguo Lu, Chaoyang District (6533 1202) $ 彩色盘港式茶餐厅,朝阳区朝阳区建国路87号华贸购物中心商业街L1

See Directories for Yayuncun location.

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