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Our Meals in China (Part 5 – Beijing)

Onto Beijing…

Beijing is great for food. You can access much of the regional food without walking very far from your hotel. We had memorable dinners at two different Peking Duck restaurants (one famous and one not), a spicy Hunan restaurant, a very formal dinner at the Telecom Hotel (written up in Beijing Dining), lunch at The Loft and many snack along the way…

On the first night we arrived, we had dinner at a Peking Duck house that was recommended by the Hotel (we stayed at one of the Hating Hotels, which is a great, reasonably priced ($20-30 USD) hotel chain that is both modern and VERY clean – recommended for quasi-budget travelers)

The duck was the best I’ve ever had – though I’ve only eaten it before in NY and Seattle..No. They don’t carve it at the table. This isn’t a super fancy restaurant, but it was a nice place (ie no bright white lights or food on the floor).

But first you have to order. Let me see here…

” Hey Pai, can we get this thing well it looks like mushrooms..i think. The characters look like a little man fishing behind a house? Oh forget it. You take the menu…”

Peking Duck – Yum! Behind is a plate of duck spring rolls


A side of mushrooms and bok choy

The Hunan Restaurant nearby was probably my favorite restaurant with 4 Yuan (65 cents) draft beers of Tsingtao and super spicy food. If only I had taken more pictures! I was too busy eating…


Caramelized cauliflower

The Loft was seen in No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain and is mentioned on egullet.com. It is trying to be a modern restaurant in a place (China) that is still new to the idea of clean, modern and “fancy western” style service. It was only me for lunch so I couldn’t order that much. The standout was the lamb, which was excellent.


My Meal


Totally dry and bland. The least favorite


The delicious lamb


Up close

After a morning of walking the hutongs, where we stopped for this little snack…

we stopped by for lunch at a BBQ restaurant and dived into this spicy fish dish…

You can barely see the fish through all the chillies

I have to say that I really like Asian heat – no. not the weather but the spice. It is hot but not overly lingeringly so like Mexican and American (and correct me if I missed a location) chillies. Here, the spiciness makes your mouth tingle and numbs your lips but accents the food nicely.

And I did mention we stopped at the famous Peking duck restaurant on the equivalent of Universal Studios Walk Beijing, right? Here it is in all of its plastic plate glory. 5 times more expensive then the place we ate at the day before and not as good. The atmosphere is awful as well…

On our last day in Beijing, K’s local family took us out for a feast of Chinese delicacies at the Telecom Hotel. This was probably the most formal dinner I’ve ever had. Upon arriving at the hotel, we were met and escorted to the restaurant, located upstairs and then led into a private room maybe 20×20.

We had 2 or 3 dedicated servers and the manager of the restaurant stayed in the room the whole time to make sure everything was taken care of. When things like the duck were brought out, they would first be placed on the table and spun around so everyone could see it. Then, the plate would be removed to a side table for cutting and plating and each person was served by a waitresses.

We were also served a red wine and a shot glass of Baijiu, a special Chinese rice whiskey at about 40-60% alcohol reserved for toasts. Throughout the meal, somebody would perform a toast and then we would do a shot of this drink and then our shots would immediately be refilled.

The whole thing was a bit suffocating, honestly, but also a very special experience and one which I’m glad and thankful that we experienced. Most of the food I’d never had before and might never have again. Things like duck’s tongue which I sadly did not get a picture of.

And onto the pictures.


Jellyfish


Deboned and reconstructed duck with sticky rice


Served duck


Scallops and Strawberries


Sweet and Sour Fish – If anybody knows how to do this, I’d love to hear!


Whole pigeon – picked over
(this might not be a pigeon, but that is what they told me. If you know, again I’d love to know)


My favorite – crispy rice and Chinese sausage


Turnip Cakes and Almond jellies

The pictures are only mediocre because I was using the wife’s camera. More images from other meals to come!

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