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Like most established and emerging foreign countries, China offers a wide range of fine dining experiences, from street food to fine French dining to traditional imperial cuisine. And Chinese ingredients are just as varied, with delicacies common to the Western palate, such as duck, to the not-so-common, such as bear paw or sea cucumber.
To sample the best fine dining restaurants in China during international travel, consider traditional Asian cuisines, as well as other foreign options.
For the best Beijing has to offer, visit Tiandi, a three-time winner of Time Out Beijing's Best Chinese Fine Dining restaurant. According to the publication, Tiandi is "an establishment that preserves the traditions of imperial dining and allows each guest to feel like an emperor."
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Any fine dining excursion during travel in China must include a sampling of roast duck. Visitors can try the popular Beijing establishment Da Dong - also the name of the renowned chef - which has won multiple awards.
For Hong Kong travelers interested in fine dining, consider visiting the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong. Two restaurants there, Caprice and Lung King Heen, have both been awarded three Michelin stars.
Food lovers traveling in China who really want to delve into the delicacies - and intricacies - of Chinese cuisine may benefit from signing up for a high-end culinary tour offered by a travel agency. Well-known cook and food-writer Fuchsia Dunlop, who has written several popular books on Chinese cuisine, leads a gastronomic tour at WildChina, a premier travel agency based in Beijing.
For the best Sichuan food, WildChina takes diners in Beijing to Chuan Ban, a local restaurant inside a government administrative building. The restaurant attracts not only local diners, but also "ambassadors and other people with discerning palates," says Nellie C. Connolly, director at WildChina. But be forewarned: "It is not particularly high-end, and the service will be quite loud," she says. "But, it's just a great experience."
In addition to traditional Chinese and Asian cuisines, China also offers a variety of international fine dining options. However, like Connolly notes with Chuan Ban, not all delicious dining is necessarily fancy.
"We like to do a mixture of high and low," Connolly says of the WildChina tours. "If we're only eating at five-star type restaurants, they're not really seeing where local Chinese people eat on a day-to-day basis."
For a top casual option, visit Migas in Beijing. It won Time Out Beijing's 2012 Best International Casual Dining spot and is one of the city's only Spanish restaurants. However, if a true fine dining experience is sought, try Maison Boulud, a French fine-dining restaurant in Beijing helmed by three-Michelin star chef Daniel Boulud.
Connolly says the top restaurant to which they send their travelers is Capital M, a Western restaurant that oversees Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Diners can expect dishes such as shellfish bisque with Pernod or twice-cooked pigeon with boudin noir.
While relishing in the tastes and ambiance of restaurants in China, travelers and expats can rely on a trusted online foreign exchange service to convert currency, calculate the latest dollar to yuan exchange rate and avoid international credit card transaction fees, which can make it more cost effective to indulge in China's wide-variety of dining experiences.
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