Beijing

7 Beijing Quirks

As we come to the end of our two weeks in the Chinese capital, this is a selection of some of our favourite quirks of Beijing:

1) When you enter a restaurant, you are handed a menu and then the waitor asks what you want before you have even opened it and they look annoyed if you try and actually read the menu to choose a dish. This makes food ordering kind of stressful as you only have about 30 seconds to choose something! Also your plate/cup/bowl arrives wrapped in plastic to show that it is clean:  (more…)

Chinese Food No. 2: Mung Bean Ice Cream

From Beijing’s finest food to its worst – we kept seeing a lolly that looked like it was pea flavoured in the ice cream freezers. Intrigued, we decided to try it – I can just about imagine a pea and mint ice cream being refreshing, if a little odd. Alas, it turned out not to be pea flavoured but mung bean flavoured. I don’t actually know what a mung bean is but I can assure you it tastes pretty gross. I also managed to drop it down my legs so then had to walk around with green-streaked legs for the second part of the day…

Chinese food: Yang Fang Lamb Hotpot

On Wednesday evening I ate possibly one of the most delicious meals of my life. We had had a glorious afternoon, wandering the hutongs of central Beijing and then reading kindles leisurely in the square between the Drum and Bell tower, watching cute little Chinese kids play on scooters and roller skates as evening fell. Just round the corner from here was the Yang Fang restaurant, which specialised in a sort of Mongolian hot pot popular in Beijing. You order a broth which arrives in a conical shaped heater and boils in front of you. Then you order the raw ingredients you want in the hot pot – we went for spinach, tofu, sweet potato, sliced lamb, and sliced lotus roots – and add them to the hot pot as you wish, and then fish them out when cooked, and dip in a delicious sesame/peanut sauce. The sweet potato was especially good, but nothing could compare to the lamb – the slices of raw meat were so thin that you only have to dip them in the boiling broth for a few seconds so that the outside changes colour but the inside stays tender and tasty. Food is always more fun when there’s an element of play to it, but this dish combined a fun way of cooking your food with a taste that cannot be described as anything other than exquisite! 

 

Beijing – First Impressions

We’ve now been in Beijing for just over a week and are starting to settle in. The city is HUGE – with a population of 25 million it’s just under three times as big as London. This leads to giant motorways running through the city and people just everywhere. We take the metro a few times each day for getting to language classes and seeing sights and it is an exhausting experience – the metro system itself can’t be faulted as there never seem to be any delays (cough cough London underground) but there are just so many people trying to get everywhere that the trains are packed closer than the London rush hour, but all the way through the day and on every line. What would be nice, too, is if the metro maps corresponded with what metro lines and stations actually exist, which doesn’t always seem to be the case! Crossing roads is another interesting experience – I feel we get through quite a few life or death moments each day as there are so many lanes to get across and no one takes any notice of the lights. (more…)