China is the birthplace of many experimental restaurants that offer diners far more than just a three-course meal. From dining amidst a stunning location in the heart of nature, to journeying on a full-blown taste experience that encompasses all of your senses, there are a vast number of impressive places to eat across the country.
Experience one-of-a-kind cuisine and China’s rich culture in this selection of stand out restaurants.
Bo Innovation, Hong Kong
Chef Alvin Leung is the face behind Bo Innovation. The Hong Kong restaurant holds the grand title of three Michelin stars for its signature Cantonese dishes. Leung marries local and imported ingredients in all of his dishes to create both strong and subtle flavours.
Standout dishes include Umami – kitimat spot prawn, har mi oil and ‘wok air’ powder – and Tomato, a dish of ‘pat chun’ Chinese vinegar, fermented Chinese olives ‘lam kok’, and marshmallow, with green onion oil.
Da Dong Roast Duck, Beijing
With the title amongst locals as serving the best duck in Beijing, Da Dong Roast Duck has two locations in the capital, along the 2km strip between Changhong Qiao and Dongsishitiao. The classy restaurants boast a plethora of duck dishes in a 160-page artistic menu.
Winning multiple awards for its creative flavouring and fine-quality ingredients, Da Dong is a restaurant you can return to multiple times and enjoy a unique selection of food each time. Tables fill up quickly though so it is recommended that you book well in advance.
Featured countless times as one of the most breath-taking restaurant locations around the world, Fangweng perches on the side of a cliff 12km north of the city of Yichang. Not for the faint hearted, diners can marvel at the stunning natural beauty in the Happy Valley of Xiling Gorge. Literally carved into the cliff-face, the restaurant hangs several hundred feet above ground and the Yangtze River. The restaurant is surprisingly spacious inside with much of the dining area being housed inside the natural cave.
Hutong, Hong Kong
With stunning views across the Hong Kong skyline, Hutong lets you dine in the heart of the city, whilst being far above the hustle and bustle of the streets. The décor is an intriguing mix of antique and modern Chinese design, pairing old wooden furniture and ornaments with sleek finishing touches. The menu is classic northern Chinese cuisine with a contemporary twist, including everything from soups and dim sums, to speciality fish dishes and barbecued meats.
Seafood Room, Hong Kong
Gaining attention worldwide, James Cornwall’s Seafood Room offers a premium selection of seafood dishes and award-winning ingenious cocktail concoctions. Located on the 26th floor of the newly constructed Tower 535 in Causeway Bay, the restaurant offers spectacular views across Hong Kong. The large dining area opens out onto an outdoor terrace facing Victoria Harbour, there is also a rooftop lounge above the restaurant which showcases live DJ acts and shisha. With an interactive dining experience, diners can choose their seafood live straight from the tanks and aquariums on display and have them cooked exactly in the preferred way, channelling Asian, Mediterranean, South American, and other flavours.
Tea Café, Beijing
Beijing’s Tea Café is like one giant conservatory, surrounded by floor to ceiling windows, airy white-washed rooms, exposed brickwork and timber beams, and leafy, bamboo courtyards. The modernist design and architecture brings fresh life to the memory of the city’s ancient hutongs, many of which are now lost. The café’s menu consists of a vast variety of teas, including white tea and many rare teas. Diners are invited to sip the teas from delicate Nogime Temmoku tea bowls dating back to the Song Dynasty, and relax their minds amidst the peaceful setting.
The Drunken Pot, Hong Kong
Reimagining dim sum for a contemporary audience, The Drunken Pot offers delightfully vibrant dumplings of different colours. Each colour signifies a different flavour, including black truffle, squid ink, medicinal herbs, crab-meat, and lobster. There are even colourful fish balls if you want to try something new from dumplings. The hot pot is also renowned for its added strength in the form of a sake bomb within the soup base.
The restaurant’s setting fuses traditional Chinese forms with modern art and a warehouse vibe, letting diners enjoy China’s favourite dishes with an updated feel.
French chef, Paul Pairet, finally opened Ultraviolet in 2012 after a decade’s work on the conception of the restaurant. Offering an exclusive, avant-garde, immersive dining experience, the restaurant utilises technology to stimulate every sense. From tailored video and audio clips to bespoke lighting and piped-in scents, Ultraviolet is described as ‘a story in 20 courses’.
Opening the doors to its hidden location in Shanghai to ten guests per night, the restaurant’s high-concept dishes mix luxury with mystery. The room transforms itself throughout the meal, and the dishes play upon sight and the taste buds, offering unusual presentations and flavour combinations.
Yu Zhi Lan, Chengdu
Deep in the heart of the capital of China’s Sichuan province, Yu Zhi Lan features a personalised taste of some of the finest ingredients and techniques the country has to offer. The tiny, 18-seat Chengdu restaurant was born by chef Lan Guijan who is famously known for his deliciously minimalist Sichuan dishes.
Boasting 25-course dinners, the menu includes needle-fine duck yolk noodles, sea cucumber broth, and spiced loach with roasted sweet potato. Every dish is lovingly prepared with attention to the smallest of details, and the sequence of courses are designed to highlight every subtle and unique flavour.
Zen Lao Yao Yu Zhuang
Situated in a particularly busy area of Chongqing, Zen Lao Yao Yu finds peace away from the bustling crowds in a former bomb shelter some feet below the ground. Designed with simple white-tiled walls and a rock roof, the restaurant conjures a unique, utilitarian dining experience.
Open around the clock, the hidden away restaurant is surprisingly busy whatever the hour. The most recommended dishes include the signature carp dish and the spare ribs.
There are of course plenty more incredible restaurants across China just waiting to be uncovered.