Originally appearing last year on beijingkids and inspired by The Huffington Post's “25 Foods You Have To Eat Before You Die,” this list was created to inspire you to get out and try some of the many foods Beijing has to offer. Some you may have tried and liked, others you may have sworn off forever, and many probably received a contorted WTF face before making anywhere near your mouth, but as they say, you won't know until you try it ... and maybe choke on it. Onward!

Home-made Kung Pao chicken. Here is a tried and tested recipe from our Shunyi correspondent Dana Cosio-Mercado.

Yunnan grilled cheese is a rare example of a Chinese dish using cheese. And not much else, for that matter.

Tanghulu (糖葫芦). The Chinese version of a toffee apple ie. fruit corrupted with as much sugar as possible. These will keep you licking your teeth for hours in an attempt to remove their new gooey veneer. Catch them at street stalls around Houhai or anywhere where people tend to crowd. Be warned though, the sugar allows these treats to live forever so even if they appear shiny the fruit inside may have seen as many winters as you have.

Beijing Roast Duck. First-timers try Quanjude and Da Dong, but seasoned duck lovers may want to check out our blog Restaurants that offer affordable and scrumptious duck.

Egg tarts. If you've been to Hong Kong then you're likely to have tried these moreish desserts, originally introduced by the Portuguese. Beijing has been catching on too and now you can grab these smooth and crispy pastries at 7-Eleven as well as Jindingxuan.

You've got to try chicken feet at least once right? The vacuum packed ones in 7-Eleven are a handy option.

Fish head? If not Singaporean curried fish head, then try the local yutou paobing (鱼头泡饼) a huge and sumptuous fish head stew served with pieces of wheat pancake.

What's that Xinjiang noodle dish that tastes like Mediterranean tomato pasta? Oh, it’s called latiaozi (拉条子).

Spicy crayfish. Don’t be put off by their appearance; crayfish have all the tenderness of lobster without burning a hole in your pocket.

Jian bing. When you are in a Chinese mood, go with jian bing for breakfast.

Dumplings. Why not make your own in time for the Spring Festival?

Dry hot pot(麻辣香锅). A classic, particularly in the winter months when all you want to do is be with good friends and gorge on a filling pot of spicy grub.

Lettuce with sesame paste. Simple, healthy, and delicious!

Fresh durian. Smells like gym socks, tastes like heaven.

Not enough durian? Get three golden crispy durian cakes for RMB 16 at any branch of Jindinxuan.

Stinky tofu. As with durian, it's nowhere near as bad as it smells.

Freshly roasted chestnuts on a cold winter day. Your fingertips will end up all yellow from peeling them, but the starchy and slightly sweet taste is worth it.

An ice-cold bottle of Beibingyang (北冰洋) on a hot summer day, best enjoyed with chuan'r while sitting at a low, foldout table in a hutong and rubbing elbows with old men sporting rolled-up pant legs.

Mantou. It's so versatile; you can slice it and roast it, eat it for breakfast with Chinese pickled veggies, fill it with meat, or dip the small brown ones in condensed milk for a sweet treat. Here are all the ways to enjoy mantou.

Pink pomelo. It might look like a huge, less juicy grapefruit to first-timers, but be careful – it can really grow on you over time.

Hongshupian (红薯片). Unbelievably addictive sweet potato chips that can usually be picked up from any small convenience store, especially deep in the hutongs.

Want to test your taste bud tolerance? Try laobeijing specialty stinky and sour douzhi (mung bean milk). There is little chance you will like it on the first few tries, but over time many local Beijingers get addicted to having it for breakfast.

Yellow wine. The Chinese liquor you can make in the style of mulled wine style to impress your guests. Read our blog post to find out how.

Head to the nearest Haidilao for the legendary service and free manicure, or have a hot pot delivered to your home.

You've probably seen discarded shells of various seeds on the ground, so why not buy a bag of sunflower seeds or guazi and join the old Chinese crowd as they split away and eat the kernels inside.
Entries contributed by Sijia Chen, Oscar Holland, Aisling O’Brien, Nimo Wanjau, Morgan Shang, and Dana Cosio-Mercado. Have any other suggestions for the list? Write a comment below!

Photos: beijingkate.wordpress.com, goodiesfirst, Premshree Pillai, yoyomantx, Lerotic, ginkaiko, ironpoisoning, dazsnow, oldandsolo, moisie darling, iJEP, sean dreilinger, telepathicparanoia, shashinjutsu Arina Habich, chemical.romance (Flickr), Dana Cosio-Mercado, David Swart (Flickr), Clemence Jiang, thebeijinger.com

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