If you ask Beijingers where to eat in summer nights, most of them would give the same answer: Guijie! Located at the northeastern side of the Forbidden city, “Ghost Street” stretches 1,442 meters from Dongzhimen cloverleaf junction in the east, to Jiaodaokou East Street in the west, and its structure is like a dumbbell—bigger both ends and smaller in the middle. With a sea of red lanterns hanging over the street, “Ghost Street” hosts over a hundred restaurants, becoming one of the most unique streets in Beijing.
There are many stories about the origin of the name Guijie. One version says the name is derived from Beijing’s old “Ghost Fairs”, where traders sold groceries, vegetables and fruit through night. The lights that these vendors used formed a ghostly effect, therefore earning the name “Ghost.” Later, the Commerce Commission changed the Chinese characters of “Ghost” (鬼) into “Gui” (簋). While the pronunciation remains the same, the meanings are completely different. Gui refers to a round- mouthed food vessel with two or four loop handles used in ancient China, and this name further emphasizes the characters of this food street.
The most distinguished dish in the area consists of crawfish, chillies and peppers stir fried together, known as “Spicy Pepper Crawfish”, and it’s particularly favored in summer time. Additionally, spicy seafood and Hot Pot are also very welcomed here.
Open twenty-four hours a day, “Ghost Street” has gone beyond a cluster of restaurants, being the microcosm of the food culture and local life in Beijing.