All this month, we’ll be introducing 50 picks for some of the best family-friendly restaurants in Beijing. These reviews originally appeared in the January/February 2013 issue of beijingkids (see end of post).
Type of cuisine: Chinese
English menu? No
General kid-friendliness of menu: There are shrimp balls, popcorn on demand, a fruit bar, and mini sausages that bloom into octopus-like shapes in boiling water. Employees go out of their way to satisfy little diners, and the restaurant has kid-sized utensils and aprons available.
Kids’ menu? No
Kids’ play area? Yes, there’s a kids’ playroom on the second floor with a small collection of toys.
Kid-friendly staff? Yes. Attentive, but not English-speaking
Bathroom: The bathroom is located on the second floor and has clean sit-down toilets – but no changing table.
Seating: Indoor seating with booths, tables and chairs, and highchairs
Price: RMB 250
Credit card accepted? Yes, both foreign and local
Parking? Street side
Must-order items: Be sure to try the scallop balls (鲜贝壳, RMB 36), shrimp paste (虾滑, RMB 46), raw beef and lamb combination platter (牛羊组合, RMB 50), or kid-friendly mini sausages (脆皮肠, RMB 24). There’s also a wide selection of vegetarian ingredients, including lotus root (藕片, RMB 14), baby cabbage (娃娃菜, RMB 16), tofu products, and more.
In a nutshell: Famous for its unparalleled service, Haidilao is a dining event in itself. Guests can get their nails done and snack on fruits and popcorn while waiting for a table; upon sitting down, the pampering continues with a hot towelette, more snacks, and a glass of lemon water. Hot pot soup bases range from RMB 69-78, and include both spicy and non-spicy options. The DIY sauce bar allows diners to customize their dipping sauce with a variety of ingredients, such as crushed garlic, chili oil, sesame sauce, cilantro, chopped green onions, and more. Be sure to ask for hand-pulled noodles; an acrobatic noodle-pulling demonstration will happen right before your eyes. If you want to replicate the experience at home, Haidilao delivers – complete with hot pot, waitress, and extension cords.
Additional notes: Haidilao has two main drawbacks: long queues (even with a reservation) and a lack of English. It’s best to bring a Chinese-speaking friend the first time around to teach you the ropes. Half-orders are available for those looking to sample a wide variety of ingredients.
Also try: Ding Ding Xiang, Donglaishun, Xiabu Xiabu
Photo by Judy Zhou