“Gui Jie (簋街)” or “Ghost Street” is a popular food street in Beijing with more than 100 restaurants offering a plethora of cuisines from different parts of China, spanning across 2 subway stations of Dongzhimen and Beixinqiao. So what does a food street has anything to do with ghosts? During the Qing Dynasty, the gate at Dongzhimen was used for the transportation of corpses to outskirts of Beijing for burial. Naturally, Dongzhimen became a hub for mortary businesses. With the coffins, blurred and dim lighting and shadows from the oil lamps back then, the eery street was dubbed as “Ghost Street”.
Later on, when the street no longer served its specific use, other types of businesses commenced in the area though none seemed to do well other than food business, which thrived especially well at night. The street name was changed to “Gui Jie( 簋街)”, where “gui (簋)” still bears the same pronunciation as “ghost”(鬼) though the writing “簋 (gui)” is completely different, meaning food container.
We ate ours at Zai Zai’s Restaurant because there was at least 5 branches on the street so I thought the crayfish gotta be good and we were not disappointed!
The restaurants here are mostly dominated with cuisines from the inland areas of Sichuan and Chongqing, which emphasize on the use of dried chili and peppercorns for a spicy and numbing flavor. The popular dishes include Chongqing-style-steamboat, Chongqing chicken hotpot, grilled fish, and spicy frogs.
Some of the restaurants carry carry both Sichuan cuisine and Beijing local favorites like Hua’s Restaurant (Hua Jia Yi Yuan), where their Pecking Duck is thought to be one of the best in Beijing .
The Huda Restaurant next to Hua’s Restaurant which we did not get a chance to try is an extremely popular one. All the people you see here are not pedestrians but hungry patrons waiting to eat at Huda…. Crazy right?
Typical Beijing local delights are found here too – “lu zhu huoshao” (爐煮火燒) which is a bean paste stew with bean curd puffs, intestines and round bits of wheaten cakes,
and Pecking Roast Duck.
Besides the popular Sichuan cuisine, other unusual types of cuisine are found here too. We tried Luo Luo Hotpot, a daily dish for the Miao ethnic group which uses fermented tomatoes as soup base where the extreme sourness was thought to prong life expectancy.
Here’s a few more cuisines that I would have loved to try on Ghost Street! This restaurant specializes in “melon steamboat”, where the steamboat is cooked in the melon vegetable itself, and also using the melon vegetable as soup base.
Halal restaurant with steamboat and local Beijing delights like cow’s stomach and scorpions.
“Zhong Kuei” Noodle Restaurant, where “Zhong Kuei” is a ghost buster in Chinese folklore.
Happy Food Hunting!
Take the Beijing subway to either Beixinqiao or Dongzhimen Station. I would go with Beixinqiao because the exit is right along Ghost Street whereas you need to walk 10 – 15 minutes from Dongzhimen to Ghost Street.