Beijing Art Scene and Recommendations

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I've already done all the touristy stuff on past visits to Beijing, so this time I concentrated on arts and food. My last day at Hugo Boss was day after opening night of our collection exhibit in Metzingen, Germany. After last-minute shopping at their VIP/employee shop, I took the taxi to Stuttgart train station, boarded the ICE train (very nice!) to Frankfurt airport, and flew to Beijing to check out the Olympic grounds.

My travel itineraries are super detailed. I do plenty of research in advance, planning on places to go, best places to eat, etc. Here are my recommendations:

transportation

Subway is clean and easy. Taxi is plentiful and not very expensive. I found taxi drivers this time around to be quite nice, maybe because of recent Olympics. I travel by subway mostly, some taxi, and lots of walking.

hotel

Grand Mercure Xidan Beijing / 北京西单美爵酒店(原马哥孛罗酒店)
Pictures looked way nicer than the actual room. Don't recommend this hotel.

art

Capital Museum / 首都博物馆
Despite my request for reservations, my hotel insisted reservations were not necessary. I was very disappointed to reach the museum to find they were fully booked for other visitors. This museum is huge! Free admission, but reservations required ahead of time.

National Art Museum of China / 中国美术馆
Not a fancy building, but they have wonderful exhibits, national and international artists. On show at the time was Manolo Valdés paintings and sculptures, Max Mara coats and history, and Lu Yanshao Chinese brush paintings. 

Dashanzi Art District  / 798 时态空间
Bit away from city center, but well worth the visit. A small neighborhood of old industrial buildings that are now used to house art galleries, cafes and art/design shops. You can take a number of buses from Dongzhimen subway station, but I get confused of with buses. So instead I took the subway to the nearest station and then 8-10 minute taxi ride.

Sanlitun Village / 三里屯Village
This is a big shopping mall, but I came here to see the architecture. Lovely buildings with various colored glass windows. Designed by team of architects, including Kengo Kuma.

The National Stadium (Bird's Nest)
The Bird's Nest and Water Cube are just across from each other and easy to reach by subway. Look for special performances that may be taking place at either venues. 

The National Aquatics Center (Water Cube) 

food

ZEN 采蝶轩
Restaurant in the Intercontinental Hotel in the financial district. Came here for lunch. Beautiful decor, but food was not worth the price. Don't recommend it unless you only care about ambiance. 

DaDong 大董烤鴨
Their peking duck is soooo good! Skin is very thin and crisp. I almost gave up hope on finding good peking duck in Beijing after going to QuanJuDe / 全聚德 which is famous (Presidents have frequented there.) Their duck was bland. DaDong's is very good quality and tastes yummy! There are different meal options, but the basic is half a duck with some condiments (sauce, scallions, sugar, buns, etc.) and costs about 120-180RMB. It's been a while so I can't remember the price. Went to (团结湖店) location which is just half block from subway exit. When exiting the subway, walk to the corner (in back of you) and make left.
address: 團結湖北路口(東三環長虹橋東南側) 

AiJiangShang / 爱江山韩国餐厅
Korean bbq. 2 locations. I went to the newer one in 海淀区. Massive restaurant, as is all nice ones in China, beautiful decor, beef quality was great, and they have a sleek faucet-like hood next to the grill. Wish I was able to try more stuff, but I was by myself so couldn't order much. Quite out of the way and hard to find though, so I would recommend going to their original location in Chaoyang district. Should be easy to get to.

鼎鼎香SOHO尚都店
Hotpot chain. Went to their Soho location. Beautiful decor and good quality. Don't remember how good the soup base was though.

Taipo Tianfu Shanzhen 
Very satisfying and comforting chicken soup made from black skin chicken and 32 types of mushrooms. At south end of Er Qi Juchang Lu, behind east side of the Chang'an Shangchang (east of metro stop), Beijing South, Transportation Metro: Muxidi (112, exit B1)  

DingTaiFeng / 鼎泰豐 
Ever since I tried it for the first time in Taipei, I tend to go to their other locations for good XiaoLongBao and chicken soup. When hairy crab is in season, I order one of those dishes. So far, quality and taste is consistently good at all locations, except for the Los Angeles location which sucked.