A North Korean Experience in Beijing
Last month I visited a North Korean Restaurant in Beijing. The restaurant is located in Beijing’s Wangjing district, its called Yuliuguan. As far as I know the UK doesn’t have a North Korean restaurant, so I had never had the chance to eat North Korean cuisine before. Hence, when I heard that Beijing had a North Korean restaurant I knew I had to go and give it a try. As well as wanting to try North Korean food, I also wanted to go because I’m curious about North Korea. North Korea is a very mysterious country; usually we can only rely on the inferences of news reporters to understand the situation there. Having never even met a North Korean person before, I thought visiting the restaurant would be a good opportunity to experience North Korean culture in person.
On a Saturday night I headed to the restaurant with a few friends. Yuliuguan is located in a large dining hall with a plush but old fashioned decor, giving the place a ceremonial feel. One of my friends said that the restaurant reminded them of a typical “people’s restaurant” from 1980s China. The staff at the restaurant are all North Koreans but they speak fluent Chinese, certainly better than I do. The food we ate felt quite similar to South Korean cuisine, with a lot of seafood and all kinds of different Kimchi. As I’m no South Korean food expert, I can’t be sure of the exact differences between North Korean and South Korean food. However, we did eat Pyongyang noodles, which is a very tasty cold noodle soup dish unique to North Korea.
Located at one end of Yuliuguan’s dining hall is a large stage. I’ve heard that normally there are performances such as traditional dancing held there that patrons can watch while dining. Unfortunately, the performances were not running when we were there because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, we had a great evening at Yuliuguan and it was great to experience a slice of North Korean culture first hand.