San Yuan Li Market: everything you want and more

The expat's cavern of delights
The expat's cavern of delights

Where can I find [insert random western food item]?
I’ve lost track of the number of times people have asked me a question that began with those exact 4 words only to find myself answering: ” well but of course, you need to go to San Yuan Li market! They got everything in there!”

Sure, foreigners in Beijing are spoiled for choice when it comes to getting their cheese, olive oil, fresh basil, thai curry at various retail outlets all over the capital. However, in most places, it will still cost you a pretty penny.

It's a long way, down the halls if you want to wok and roll
It's a long way, down the halls if you want to wok and roll

Shopping at SanYuanLi is like hitting a culinary jackpot! Restaurant owners, bartenders and average joes/janes in the know make it there to get their fix of beets, thai basil, fresh limes, avocados, spices and whatever else their heart desires… and it’s got it all!

The vegetables are the freshest in the city, bar none! How many times did you go to the supermarket and find crap quality tomatoes/onions/carrots ? At SanYuanLi, the veggies are picture perfect no matter what time of the day. Mint retails for RMB 6 to 10 per Kilogram as opposed to RMB 6 for a small barette at Jenn Lou. Avocados go for 6 to 10 RMB piece as opposed to 30RMB/Kg at other spots. Let’s not forget the diversity of fresh herbs available at any of the dozen stalls selling vegetables.

mint for the mojito, lemons for the GT and peppers for the chili
mint for the mojito, lemons for the GT and peppers for the chili

Meat selection is also outstanding. You can ask for whatever cut you please as opposed to getting whatever is displayed on the shelf. Seafood is fresh a diverse with most vendors trained in deboning and familiar with western cuts.

Dry/canned goods also make a noticeable presence in a half-dozen stalls around the middle of the market. You want cheese? they got it! You want Cajun spice mix? less than 10RMB for 100g as opposed to 30+ at other shops. Pasta, olive oil, mozarella, fresh goat cheese… it’s all there!

yes, those 3 fridges are filled with cheeses!!!!
yes, those 3 fridges are filled with cheeses!!!!

Last but not least (especially considering they occupy the first row of shops at the entrance) is one of the most diverse selection of fruits in Bejing. Not to be outdone by the vegetable vendors, the fruit folks boost are not shy about giving you a taste of whatever they be selling!

Scattered amongst the stalls, you’ll also find a pet shop and various general “crap” shops selling everything from power adapters to plastic shoes!

So get over there, find yourself a vendor and stick with them.. bargaining not always required, especially once you’ve been there a few times…. Happy wok’n rolling 🙂

Sanyuanli Market 三源里菜市场‎
Zuojiazhuang Xijie/左家庄西街8号‎ 8,
Chaoyang District/朝阳区

Sanyuanli elsewhere on the web: on dianping | cityweekend |

  1. First of all I’d like to say, great article! I’ve got a big question nagging me, I really enjoy the layout of your site and tried to download the same theme on my Worpdress site. Stil, there is some kind of weird php error in the sidebar. Do you have any hints, what settings are you using? Please PM me on Twitter @Thaifan or via e-mail.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

− 1 = 8