In which Beka samples lots of food in Beijing
Chinese food is a whole lot different in China to that anywhere at home. I was adamant that I was going to show Beka as much food in Beijing as I possibly could in order to give her an authentic experience in China.
I started the moment she managed to find the hostel, with the classic food in Beijing Beijing duck (bei jing kao ya). I took her to the restaurant that I went to on Valentine’s Day last year and had to waddle out.
At least this time there were two of us eating and I was still full at the end. I still don’t know how I managed to eat it all last time.
The next food in Beijing that I introduced Beka to was hotpot (huo guo). Hotpot is one of my favourite dishes so this excited me a lot. I was also glad that Beka was up for a spicy one so off we went. We went to a place where there was a Mongolian hotpot. The different of the Mongolian hotpot to other hotpot places is the shape of the hotpot bowl itself. It has the coals underneath with a funnel through the middle, so the hotpot soup itself is in a ring around the edge.
This was also the first time that Beka had the opportunity to use chopsticks. Hotpot relies heavily on chopstick use, so that was a little challenging for Beka’s first try! She did very well though and I think enjoyed the hotpot experience.
The next part of the food in Beijing adventure was boiled dumplings, (jiaozi). We got back to the hostel after our hotpot wander to find that for the Chinese New Year’s Eve, the hostel was giving us the chance to make jiaozi. I’d done this the previous time that I had stayed in the hostel so heartily recommended it for Beka as a chance to get her hands dirty with Chinese cuisine. It was fun.
As I maintain, to make jiaozi you just have to pretend it’s like a Cornish pasty. In all, it doesn’t matter what they look like, as they all taste the same after being cooked anyway. As before, there were 4 coins in the dumplings, but this time I wasn’t lucky enough to find one for the free beer!
It being New Year, the staff had also laid out plates of nuts, seeds and sweets in the bar, which was really lovely. Beka had fun asking me what each of them were, but to be honest, I didn’t really have much of an idea – I generally shy away from anything that I can’t see what’s in the packet.
Chinese New Year itself presented another chance for more food in Beijing, obviously. Whilst Ditan Park was far too busy to grab any food from the stalls, we did manage to find some food in the Houhai area and the hutongs. I’d wanted to take Beka to Hutong Pizza, where I’d been before, but it was shut for Chinese New Year, understandably. In the end, I took her to a dishes restaurant where I chose a couple of dishes for her to sample and also continue to practice her chopsticks use.
This was gong bao ji ding, a beef dish and a vegetable dish, with various different Chinese vegetables that she would never have tried before.
I think it went down ok although apparently there were too many peanuts in the gong bao ji ding for her.
We did wander down the night market, but scorpions and starfish did not appeal to Beka at all. Fair enough, as it has never really appealed to me either. It’s the thought of all that crunch which gets me…
Trying to avoid as much Western food in Beijing as possible, we did end up buying some bakery goods in Paris Baguette bakery to snack on. So far, we were not eating at normal times of day, so had decided to buy something snacky. We went for a cheese and ham stick and some pizza, and it was very good.
Later that day, I took Beka to a chain restaurant called Aisen Ramen, a Japanese noodle place that I’ve been to a couple of times in Zhangzhou. Beka enjoyed some fried rice and myself, some duck noodles. Beka was more excited about the mango juice though!
For Beka’s birthday, we went to Mutianyu Great Wall. This involved breakfast at the hostel, but not before panda birthday cake which I’d sneakily bought the night before! It was very good cake, apart from the chocolate decorations on top.
For our evening meal on Beka’s birthday, we found a place called LeShiPai, which served a dry hotpot.
Here, instead of having soup, the food is cooked all ready and then tossed into a large bowl with lots of spice.
This went down very well with Beka, who decided it was her favourite thing that we ate for the entirety of the trip. She enjoyed it so much that we had it for a late lunch on her final day too!
One final note. Although we didn’t eat much Western food in Beijing, we did drink a lot of Starbucks.
Our argument was that you don’t normally get a Chinese New Year flavour of Chestnut Macchiato (YUM!), or in Costa, a Tangerine Mocha. The second didn’t go down as well, but at least we tried it!