I went to China. Hi, I’m back.
I ate food there. And I didn’t get any food poisoning as I am wont to do on vacation. Yeay! Even though I can’t exactly provide the same restaurant reviewing service about places in Beijing, I can still show some juicy pics and tell tales of some of the neato stuff I ate while I was there. And because I can, I will.
Picture of food so you’ll keep reading.
I will start by saying that we mainly ate at “Western” style restaurants in Beijing. This is not to say that the food at these restaurants isn’t Chinese or that it’s not authentic — it just means that the facility operates in a Western style. Typically, these restaurants are large, and you’re seated at a table by a hostess. The menu is typically very expansive and full of pictures. Your order is taken by a waiter/waitress. Sometimes this person speaks some English, often not so much. The pictures are helpful for this. Your food is brought to you and is typically meant to be shared among the people at your table. You use chop sticks. The facilities are clean and the food is of high quality like you might expect in, say, San Francisco.
You can get a $1 meal at a street vendor, which is certainly an “authentic” experience, but I don’t eat at the hot dog stands here, so I’m not sure why I would do it there. Not that I’d chide someone who did do that, but I’ve had my taste of food poisoning in a third world country, and I’m not willing to be as risky as I perhaps once was. So. We went for the classed-up places. And since we knew a local, he showed us to the best of the best.
Ok, I’ll shut up and get to the pictures:
First: pizza. Yeah, pizza in Beijing. What were we thinking? We were thinking that it was really good, that’s what. Also, deep fried Oreos. Ridiculous and not as good as I wanted them to be. But, there they are.
Amazing pizza from Kro’s Nest in Beijing. This pizza was like 30″ in diameter; half cheese, half veggie with white sauce. It was really good.
Deep fried Oreos are not as good as they sound.
Next up: wood ear mushrooms. These are all over the place (like, in food, not just on the ground) in Beijing. They’re delicious.
Wood ear mushrooms! Yum!
And then we had one of our first “fancy” Chinese dinners, which was totally worth the exorbitant price.
Eggplant with melted cheese in a bread bowl. Genius.
Veggie food stuffs in a banana leaf. Hard to eat, but delish.
Not-as-spicy-as-it-could-have-been mushroom dish. I was glad for the lack of spicy.
Next stop was a grungy dumpling restaurant waaay out behind a bunch of blind masseuse shops. (Your guess is as good as mine.) The dumplings were very good.
Cold dish of tofu skins (or something). A bit sweet, very tasty.
Dumplings! All veggie, of course.
Then on to the famous duck restaurant in Beijing where there is always a wait if you don’t have a reservation. We didn’t. We waited. Everyone liked the duck. I tried it; it tasted like chicken. This other stuff was way better.
Egg stuffed tomatoes. Weird. Good.
Stir fried bamboo shoots. But not the yucky ones they put in chow mein here. These might have been the best thing I ate the whole time.
These pot-sticker-sized balls of flavored tofu were soft like hummus. It was very hard to pick up, but really, really good. I wanted to spread it on a sandwich. I still do, actually.
We took a cooking class where we made this stir fry:
Stir fry of egg, carrots, cucumber, wood ear mushrooms, garlic, leek, lily flower ,and ginger. They added pork to the non-veggie one.
Then Jon and I ate food in Shanghai. We started off the weekend right by ordering way too much food. This restaurant had amazing light so my photos actually look good (finally).
The menu said fried bran or something weird, but it was really some sort of cold tofu or gluten dish. It was a bit sweet, had a spongy consistency, and was quite tasty.
The real deal: sweet and sour shrimp. This sweet and sour sauce was indeed both sweet and sour. It was creamy with mustard undertones. It was very good but also very rich.
Eggplant dish. Good but not great. So pretty though. And tongue-singeing hot (temperature, not spicy).
There it is: Chinese noodles. This wasn’t called “chow mein” on the menu, it was just called noodles. (Which is what it was.) I liked it.
We were having a harder time finding places to eat in Shanghai just because we didn’t do the appropriate research and didn’t have a local to point us in the right direction. This Italian place was right on the river and had good reviews (ah, the joys of traveling with a smart phone). This pizza was fab.
Yeah, another pizza. This one was really, really good. At “The Kitchen” on the east side of the river in Shanghai.
At the YuYuan Bazaar in Shanghai (crowded as ALL GET OUT. no, seriously, I wished everyone would get out…) there were a million dumpling shops. Some of them had immense lines. Few of them had any signage in English at all, though many had pictures (but you can’t see what’s inside the dumpling?!). We got all rogue and stood in front of the stock tray and pointed to some tubs of dumplings. No food poisoning + delicious dumplings = win.
And if you’ve made it to the bottom of this post, kudos to you. Your prize will be a dumpling. I will give you a gift certificate for the place in Shanghai. Redeem at your leisure.