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Dining In Harbin

The colonial influence in Harbin is evident in much of the city's cuisine and eating here is a very different experience from dining elsewhere in China or indeed in the province.
For starters, the exterior of the restaurants is pretty unique. Lanterns hang outside each restaurant, each denoting different characteristics about the food and facilities available. Red lanterns denote a typical Chinese place and blue lanterns indicate that the restaurant serves Muslim food (no pork). What's more, the greater the number of lanterns hanging outside, the higher the standard of cooking and accordingly, the larger the size of your bill!
The actual dishes available in many places is also unusual. Exotic animals such as deer, bear and tiger were once an integral part of the diet here. Fortunately Beijing have made their disapproval of this kind of thing clear in recent years, and Bear Paw and Siberian Tiger Testicles are no longer as popular as they once were.
In accordance with the historical influence, Russian styles are used abundantly in the preparation of most dishes. Stroganoff and caviar are also available in a few places, including the Huamei Restaurant.
For more typical Harbin food, check out the Futailou Restaurant, serving good fish soups and some of the city's more exotic dishes. The Beilaishun Restaurant is an authority on Muslim dishes (note the plethora of blue lanterns suspended from outside). The Laodu Yichu Dumpling Restaurant, is one of the few places in town serving authentic dongbei dumplings. 
Local Specialties:
Big Bread
Big Bread (da mianbao) is another specialty that bears obvious Russian influence. These huge breads are round in shape and can weigh as much as 6 pounds. Aside from size and weight, what makes this particular bread popular with locals and foreigners is the European flavor. When you come to Harbin to appreciate the Russian architecture, don't forget to sample this crispy-on the-outside yet soft within bread!
When one mentions Chinese dumpling (jiaozi), most people are familiar with the crescent shaped dumpling that can be found across the country. Only in Harbin can you expect to sample some of the most authentic and original types of dumpling, made using quality flour and fresh cabbage and pork meat. These dumplings are usually served around Chinese New Year and during the Ice Festival as special treats.
Best Recommendation:
Western Restaurants
◎Portman Western Restaurant
Add: 53 West Seventh Street, Daoli District (Base), 12 West Dazhi Street, Nangang District 
Tel: (Base) 0451 - 84686888; (Branch) 0451-84619818
Description: Portman Western Restaurant is the largest Russian restaurant in scale. The authentic Russian dishes are the knockouts, and they, after absorbing the cuisine merit from France, Italy and other foreign countries establish their unique style. It embodies the extension of modern Russian dishes in China. The scenes in many popular TV plays and films such as Harbin Under the Curtain of Night and Supreme Order is shot in Portman Western Restaurant.
◎ Katusha
Add: Right beside the Flood Monument of Zhongyang Dajie
Description: A genuine Russian restaurant. Its owners are from Yakutsk and most patrons are Russian. The menu is now translated in English as well. You can get some of the best Russian food available in China, not to mention genuine bread and butter imported from Russia. Make sure to get there early as the restaurant closes at 9:30pm and not all dishes will be served after 8:15pm.
◎Huamei Western Restaurant
Add: 112 Zhongyang Dajie, Daoli District
Tel: 0451-84619819
Description: It was founded in 1925 in the name of Mars Tea and Food Room. The restaurant mainly offers Russian dishes, with French and Italian cuisin as complement. Its first floor is the modernism European garden bar; the second floor gives the style of the Kremlin in Moscow in the former Soviet Union times, and providing up-scale cell; and the third floor embodies the modern Russian style. The notable Russian dishes include fillet podijaka, chickenbreast in cream, fried mandarin fish in milk, deep-fried prawns, grilled chicken and borsch soup.
◎ Hamama's Kofi House,
Add: 2 Mugong Road Nnit 104
Description: A little Cafe near Harbin Institute of Technology run by a Papua New Guinean and his Taiwanese wife. Western food like burgers, milkshakes and an omelet breakfast. Good strawberry and banana smoothies and carrot cake but some of the other items on the menu a bit variable. Coffee is fairly good too.
◎ Marhaba Arabian
Tel: 0451-86304277
Add: Hanguang Street 1-19, Nangang District (Near Harbin Institute of Technology).
Description: This is a great mom and pop sized restaurant which has some low and medium priced dishes. If you don't know Arabian food, the dishes are similar to many Indian and Lebanese dishes. They also have hookahs/shisha with flavored tobacco.
◎Lucia Coffee Restaurant
Tel: (Base) 0451-84563207 (Branch) 0451-84611677
Add:57 West First Street, Daoli Distric (Base), 28 West Tenth Street, Daoli District (Branch)
Description: Lucia's western food is the cooking dating back to the era of Russian migration to Harbin. Together with other collected western dishes, in France or Italy style, the chefs follows the traditional cooking techniques in that era, selects top-quality raw materials, and imports directly British black tea from overseas and coffee from its origin country, for the sole purpose to offer the most exquisite and delicious western food to customers.
◎Cafe Russia 1914
Tel: 8456 3207
Add: 57 Xitoudao Jie
Description: Step back in time at this tranquil, ivy-covered teahouse-cum-restaurant and cafe. Black-and-white photos illustrating Harbin's Russian past line the walls, while the old school furniture and fireplace evoke a different era. The food is substantial Russian fare, such as borscht and piroshki (cabbage, potato and meat puffs). It serves Russian vodka, too.
Chinese Restaurants
◎Bi Feng Tang
Add: 185 Zhongyang Dajie
Tel: 8469 0011
Description: A northern outpost of the popular Shanghai restaurant empire. Come here for delicate, southern-style dumplings, as well as rice noodles, drunken chicken and excellent desserts. It's good for late-night munchies.
◎Dong Fang Jiaozi Wang (Orient King of Dumplings)
T el: 8465 3920
Add: 35 Zhongyang Dajie, Daoli District, Harbin
T el: 5364 2885
Add: 72 Hongjun Jie (train station area)
Description: It's not just the cheap jiaozi that are good at this always busy chain: there are plenty of tasty vegetable dishes, too. The Hongjun Jie branch is a 10-minute walk southeast of the train station, next to the Overseas Chinese Hotel. English menu. 
◎Ding Ding Xiang
Tel: 8300 0000
Add: 58 Jingwei Jie
Description: In winter, Harbin and hotpot go together like strawberries and cream. This three-storey hot-pot palace can get very pricey, but you can also dine well on beef, lamb and seafood for a modest outlay. Just make sure you order the special sauces to accompany your hotpot. During summer, the streets off Zhongyang Dajie come alive with open-air food stalls and beer gardens, where you can sip a Hapi, the local beer, while chewing squid on a stick, yangrou chuan (lamb kebabs) and all the usual street snacks. For those with a sweet tooth, the year-round indoor food market has stalls offering buns, cookies, fruits and sweets.
◎Dishes of Zhao's Old Restaurant
Tel: 0451 - 82382147
Add: 405 Hanshui Road, Nangang District
Description: The restaurant was founded in the 21st year in the era of Emperor Guangxu in the Qing Dynasty, by Aisin Gioro Zhenguo, who is the 11th generation successor of Dorgun. After the inheritance and development by 5 generations of Zhao's, now it is a restaurant chain containing more than 10 branches in the Northeast of China, Beijing and Tianjin. The indoor decoration is dominated by the authentic folk antiques, and supplemented by modern easy elements. The quality dishes are in the theme of Manchu customs.
◎Old Changs Spring Cakes
Add: 178 Zhongyang Dajie, Daoli District
Description: Pancake like food stuffed with vegetables and meat, a staple of the northeast and tasty as hell!
◎Hans Beer BBQ
Add: 254 Zhongshan Lu, near Wal-mart
Description: Great draft beer that is all you can drink during lunchtime. The food is Chinese BBQ with assorted and spiced meat kabobs. A chain restaurant that is available in any large city in China.
Japanese Restaurants  
◎Japanese Teppenyaki (jingqiao tiebanshao)
Add: 93 Hanshui Lu
Description: Japanese BBQ where you are seated in private rooms and real Japanese cook your food right in front of you!
◎Upscale Sushi and Tempura
458 Hanshui Lu
Description: Another but less expensive Japanese restaurant. Full menu of sushi, tempura, Japanese curry etc. can be had here. Seating is in cozy bamboo paper rooms with heated seats! Atmosphere is very good. You can order affordable packages at around ¥100 per person that includes all-you-can-drink Kirin beer.
Muslim Restaurant
◎Musilin Bada Wan (Muslim Big Eight Bowl)
Tel: (0451)82438102
Add: 135 Haihe Road   
Description: Currently the largest Muslim restaurant in Harbin, they serve traditional Muslim dishes. The specialty is the 'Eight Bowl Series', which the features thick soup and mutton.
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