I’m thinking I should get this out of the way and dedicate an entire blog post to the food that I ate while on tour in Beijing. I have to admit, it was definitely an experience (and a delicious one at that). We got the opportunity to eat at some of the flashiest joints in Beijing without having to toe shuffle and wait about – show lucky is that? Very lucky, I should think.

BEIJING DUCK: The most definitively delicious point in the tour was found at this joint  – Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant (全聚德):

“This is Beijing’s most famous Peking Duck restaurant, and also one of the oldest, having been established in 1864. The huge, plush dining hall is filled with diners eager to try this dish in its most authentic setting. A basic duck starts at CNY108, but the pancakes, scallions and sauces are extra.”

Since our group of hungry tourists was quite large, they sent chefs, en-masse to to our banquet room, where they skillfully sliced and diced our duck for us. Mmm, delicious.

To be truthful, i'm actually not a fan of duck at all, but this completely changed my opinion - it's crispy, greasy and meaty texture, mixed with fresh spring chive slithers and wrapped in a thin pancake-like bread - ohhh, heaven.

CHEAP BEER: We managed to be seated with a group that weren’t big beer drinkers. Interestingly enough, when we asked to switch out one of our bottles of beer for a bottle of Coke we were told that we could not – apparently, Coke (and other Western soft-drinks) are twice as expensive as beer. JAW. DROP.

BEIJING YANJING BREWERY: the company is one of the largest breweries in Asia. The company has approximately 20,000 employees, and is one of the largest beer manufacturers in China. They produced 3.11 million tons of beer in 2005 alone.
SNOW BEER (雪花啤酒): Directly translated as "snowflake beer" - apparently this is the world's biggest selling beer? I don't know, I'm just repeating what The Google tells me. PS. It's pretty tasty.

ALL YOU CAN EAT ADVENTURES: This gem was one that we scrounged out at the Silk Market – “Beijing Duck” Patio Pizza – which apparently specialises in Beijing Duck Pizza – an all-you can eat extravaganza, it also features a few sneaky tricks – if you want a cup of tea, be prepared to fork out a few yuan. Sly, sly, sly.

My favourite thing they served? Chicken nibbles - hey, I didn't say that the joint was healthy, did I?

TEA: All sorts of tea – of course China would be the place to go and buy silly piles of tea. We were carted off to a place near the Olympic City, joyfully labelled “Dr. Tea” (茶博士家) where we got to sample different types of tea and surround ourselves with all things tea-like. Chamomile is still my favourite – Pu er tastes manky to me and always will. The lady doing our demonstration had the most clean accent I had heard up to that point, in Beijing – without the very curly Beijing accent attached to it.

BEIJING HOT POT: Now, we had hot pot previously at a chain-restuarant, but this time we went to a legit place (complete with birds in cages singing and hanging from the ceiling) to experience some hot pot loving. They pulled all the stops at this place and made sure all the tables were decked with a huge choice of additions. Oh my.

Various vinegars and herbs are tapped-off these and used in the soups and sauces.

BUNS AND DUMPLINGS: We managed to score a booking at the famous Gou Bu Li (狗不理) Restaurant in Tianjin (天津 ) – which, apart from epic traffic jams (seriously, epic), is a town known for being the home town of these steamed buns – which are usually stuffed with meat filling made of pork, fresh shrimp and all things delicious.

I only managed to get this sorry excuse for a picture as everyone at the table had managed to snake one from the plate before I could even get my camera out. Oh, those old people, faster than they look, I tell you.

The name “Goubuli Baozi”, literally means “stuffed bun that dogs are not interested in”.  The name originated from a boy’s nickname. Many years ago, a chinese family found an abandoned child in a garbage dump and adopted him. Alluding to his good fortune in not being eaten by dogs, they nicknamed him Gou Zi, or “Doggy.” The child grew up to become an accomplished chef whose steamed dumplings were unparalleled in the area. His buns were very popular and his business became so exceptionally good that his customers would have difficulty getting his attention. People began to refer to him as “Goubuli (Doggy ignores us).” With the passage of time, the bun became widely known as “Gou Bu Li Bao Zi”.

COFFEE: Is REALLY bloody difficult to find – well, a good coffee is really bloody difficult to find. Being from a city that’s doing it’s best to rival Melbourne as the coffee-city of the nation, I found it heart-breaking to be in a country where nobody really thought of coffee as an important beverage. This left me super sad – and after trial after trial of drinking odd Starbucks concoctions (in the hope that they would suddenly be better if I kept on drinking them), I gave in and glugged instant coffee and looked hangdog-awful for the days we were in Beijing. Moral of this story? Well, it doesn’t have a moral really – I just wish Beijing had better coffee.

At the airport when leaving Beijing, we found a Costa Coffee joint - packed with people and the smell of coffee in the air. We practically ran inside and snuffed up the store.

MARKET MISCELLANY: One of the more memorable moments was spent at one of the undercover markets in Tianjin (天津) – filled with people selling all sorts of wares (mostly tacky things with goggly eyes) but also all sorts of food stuffs and random animals spewing strange bubbly water and eschewed with numerous tentacles. Tasty!

In case you're wondering - yes, that IS an alligator head. It's actually pretty small, all things considered.

Snails - making a brave escape from their not-very-effective casing.



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