Friday, November 9, 2012


About the same time I went AWOL from food blogging and Fb, I worked in Beijing for awhile.  The experience opened my eyes and showed me how different life is across the strait.  I lived most of my childhood in Taiwan and head over there twice a year (sometimes more) since I moved back to the States.  Figured life in China wouldn't be so different from Taiwan since both countries speak Mandarin Chinese and are so geographically close that I swear you could swim from one shore to the other.

Nope.  So very very wrong.  What a culture shock.  The only thing I could reasonably relate to was Mandarin Chinese, but even then Beijing residents speak in the northeastern accent....which to me is the equivalent of Californian vs a heavy fake Cockney accent.  You know they're speaking the same language, but sometimes you just don't know wtf they're saying.

Yeah okay this isn't a travel blog.  On to the food!

Beef noodle soup is actually a pretty common dish for both Chinese and Taiwanese.  The restaurant was fairly well known for theirs, so I gave it a shot because I was curious to compare it to all the Taiwanese ones I've had.  The broth here was heartier and deeper in flavor than what I usually have.  Good stuff.

Supplemented my noodles with an order of cumin lamb skewers that were grilled over charcoal.  You'll see meat skewers at a lot of restaurants, especially during summer.  They have a big grill outside using wood charcoal to impart a wonderful smokey flavor.  They also do beef and chicken with a variety of seasonings.  I particularly like the spicy Schezwan peppercorns and crushed chiles.  Spicy even by my standards.

Here's some mediocre Zhajiang mian.  My mother makes a better sauce.  Those house noodles were terrific though.  Good tooth and flavor.  FYI, you're supposed to mix all of that together.

Okay so this is what a typical casual restaurant's decor might look like.  Pretty damn cool huh?

Now an example from fine dining:


Calamari from a stone pot @ one of the pricier restaurants.  One thing I've noticed is that many low to mid-end restaurants in Beijing will typically use a noticeably superfluous amount of oil to prepare each dish.  Nice n fancy establishments use just the right amount.

Rack of lamb Frenched and fried with chili peppers and peanuts.  Best. Freaking. Dish. EVAR!!  Dramatic presentation to match its equally impressive taste.  So many intense and complex flavors here.  Texture of the lamb was just out of this world too--crisp on the outside and oh so very very tender and juicy inside.  To mix things up a bit, you can crunch on the peppers too.  Might be hard to tell from the photo, but the ribs are pretty darn big.

Hey check out this out of place, uninspiring photo.  What gives?  Well I was too excited and eager to dig in, so I snapped one shot without any thought to composition.  One does not go to Beijing and not eat Peking Duck.  My god I ate so much duck.  From the very best at Quan Ju De (and its equivalents) to the "oh hey this is still good!" at neighborhood restaurants.  What we have in SoCal doesn't even compare.

I think it was around this time when I stopped taking food photos in Beijing.  It was a lot easier (and more enjoyable) to just sit back in a restaurant, take it all in, and enjoy the new experiences.

Oh! And for some giggles, here is a Starbucks located across from Tienanmen Square:

Cracked me up when I saw it.  It's located in a super touristy shopping attraction.  They pretty much built a whole shopping district in the historical Chinese style.  Worth a look if you're in the area.

Makes me sad to think all the good eats I had in Beijing can't be had here.


kirbie said...

Wow, you worked in Beijing? Must have been an interesting experience. I love your description of the mandarin chinese. I have trouble understanding the accent too. Mmm, your food pics are making me hungry.

Roger said...

Definitely an interesting and educational experience. lol that accent...after awhile I started to pronounce words like they do. Didn't even realize the change.