People at work jokingly think I work part-time this year with the amount of time I have had off with lots of my friend’s getting married overseas or like with my latest trip, one of my best girlfriend’s having her hen’s party in Beijing. The only city I have been to in China is Shanghai a few years back and was impressed at how cosmopolitan the city has become. In the midst of the central CBD there would be little laneways running off the main street and there I would find stalls selling handmade xiao long bau (Shanghainese soup buns) for $1 for 8! I was excited in going to Beijing so I could sample the famous local delicacy of Peking duck.
Here are snippets of food I ate during my 3 day trip when we weren’t consuming alcohol!
First stop off the plane was a steaming bowl of beef noodle soup at 1949 – The Hidden City. The restaurant is nestled behind an art gallery and when we arrived during lunch hour it was busy so we were seated outside in a cute little courtyard. We had a lunch set whereby you could choose the type of beef noodle, a side dish and vegetables.
As we arrived at the start of Autumn and the nights were a chilly 10 degrees, who could resist hot-pot? The local version is served in a donut shaped pot with a chimney protruding out at the top. The chimney is filled with coals and serves as the heat conductor for the broth. The fish balls were very average and didn’t taste like they were homemade and more like store-bought. The vegetables were lettuce leaf covered in sesame sauce. When it first came out, I wasn’t sure if you were supposed to eat it raw or eat it cooked.
I have never tasted Huadiao jiu (flowery carving wine) before. Huadiao wine is made out of glutinous rice and wheat and used to be buried underground when a family’s daughter is born and dug up when the daughter marries. I loved how they serve the drink to you in one of the restaurants we went to. The cylinder in the middle is where the wine is poured in, the cup is contains hot water and it warms up the wine. You then can drink the wine by itself or with a sour plum.
My one and only encounter with real authentic street food vendor in Beijing. Behind the Sanlitun Village shopping centre, there was a couple selling handmade noodles and dumplings in a cart. The had a make shift dining area right next to road construction. There was no menu on offer and they dumplings fillings came either vegetarian (chive and egg) or pork and chive. There was no tables left for us to sit and we ate the dumplings ghetto style – squatting on the roadside with our table being a traffic cone. The dumplings were a bargain $10 RMB for 12, that’s $1.50 AUD!. The dumplings itself was very tasty but I made the mistake of drinking some of the soup which tasted like it contained MSG.
Located in a manor house which is home to the former United States embassy in a walled compound opposite Tianamen Square, houses the restaurant, Masion Boulud. Maison Boulud serves French cuisine with Chef Brian Reimer learning the tricks of trade from Daniel Boulud at New York’s DANIEL. Here we had brunch with 4 courses for $268RMB and the menu was divided into soups, salads, smoked & marinated, eggs, pasta & rice, fish, meats & offal and desserts. There was in total 36 choices on offer and me being a very indecisive person when it comes to ordering, I am on struggle street. The service was impeccable, the food was amazing and I forgot I was in Beijing and thought I was off in London or NY.
This is just day 2 of the trip, more to come!
1949 The Hidden City. Courtyard 4,
Gong Ti Bei Lu, Chaoyang District, (opposite pacific century place mall south gate)
Tel: +86 6501-1949
23 Qianmen East Street Dongcheng, Beijing, China
Tel: +86 6559-9200