For most, the road to North Korea runs through China's capital. If you can't make the whole journey, Beijing is the best place this side of Pyongyang to get a taste of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Begin with some refreshment at Yinpanguan (11 Fangcaodi West Street, Chaoyang), a restaurant just up the road from the North Korean embassy. The regime runs numerous restaurants around Asia, and this one has some of Beijing's best Korean food. Propaganda karaoke videos play on a continuous loop in the ground-floor dining room and the waitresses are all Pyongyang natives who have been taught Chinese and given the rare privilege of leaving their home country. While you feast on spicy kimchi, barbecued beef and blueberry-infused soju liquor, spare a thought for the bulk of North Koreans, who dine like this only in their dreams. The Panjiayuan Antiques Market (18 Huawei Li, Panjiayuan Road, Chaoyang) may be famous for fake goods, but low demand for DPRK souvenirs guarantees their authenticity and easy haggling for low prices. When photos leave the embassy's montage display, they end up in the hands of dealers whose main business is communist memorabilia (below left). Here you can also find vinyl LP records, newspapers, magazines and loyalty badges bearing the likeness of the departed Kim Il-sung. Some offerings are truly bizarre, such as songs written for the glory of the North Korean people by Cambodia's former king Norodom Sihanouk. Haitanghua (Xinyuanxili Zhongjie, North Chaoyang, tel: 86 10 64616298) is another of Pyongyang's schemes to earn some hard currency and also a great place for dinner. Seafood concoctions are simmered in conch shells and North Korean karaoke runs non-stop. For a special occasion, consider a banquet room, either in western or Korean seating styles. Some rooms feature wall-size murals, including one stunning view of the Hermit Kingdom's iconic Mount Paektu, beautifully rendered in a typical North Korean landscape style. Like Kremlinologists during the cold war, try reading the tea leaves. The waiting staff double as a dance troupe. House-brand kimchi packets can make great edible souvenirs. For some inspiring artwork, the Pyongyang Art Studio (west of Sanlitun Bar Street, tel: 86 10 64172632; www.pyongyangartstudio.com ) is a must. Established by the British expatriates who set up the Koryo Tours company to run trips to North Korea, the studio boasts numerous hand-painted canvasses of workers, peasants and other depictions of the socialist paradise. Huge and lovingly painted, these are North Korean souvenirs you might actually considering hanging in your living room. Close to the Pyongyang Studio is the office of Koryo Tours (27 Beisanlitun Nan, Chaoyang District; tel: 86 10 64167544; www.koryogroup.com ), which offers a collection of souvenirs such as mugs, pins and patches, not to mention Beijing's best range of books on North Korea. The tour guides are also accomplished filmmakers and you can find documentaries for sale about North Korea's eye-popping Mass Games, defectors to the DPRK and the North Korean football team's surprising path to the 1966 World Cup quarter-finals. Koryo Tours' headquarters boast a full bar, placing it firmly in the league of coolest offices ever and offering an ideal place to unwind after your DPRK day.