Set right on the eastern edge of the Forbidden City, this restaurant is appropriately imperial in theme. Once you’ve stepped through the grand doors and into the serene, glass-ceilinged, stone-floored dining room, the chaotic sounds of street crowds are replaced by the pling-pling of classical Chinese music and the gentle swish of goldfish in the courtyard pond. The menu, in keeping with the surroundings, leans toward the traditional; among the classic, well-executed dishes here are fish fillets and bamboo shoots in wine sauce, sautéed assorted mushrooms with black pepper, pan-fried vegetable dumplings, and deep-fried spareribs with chile and garlic. Surprisingly (for a Chinese restaurant), there’s an impressive wine list, which even includes a small selection of grand cru offerings—but be warned: the prices might take your breath away.
Tip: Tiandi Yijia is a perfect spot for lunch after a morning tour of the Forbidden City; it’s right next door.