Now without much further ado, I present our first stop: Beijing.
|I wish I had the time to try all the delicious-looking food I saw in Beijing. Sigh.|
I loved the dazzling array of street food in Beijing. Stalls and vendors are dotted liberally across the city, and every so often we would stumble upon a market or a food street.
One of the most popular snacks sold in Beijing is tanghulu - candied fruits on a stick, not unlike toffee apples. Chinese hawthorn is the traditional fruit used in this candy, but I also saw plenty made with strawberries, pineapple and kiwi.
Not as ubiquitous is the dying art of candy blowing and dough shaping, but I did come across two or three artists doing their thing. And yes, I couldn't resist. I bought myself a candy dog.
|a candy blowing artist and his wares.|
There was a place with great takeaway options a short walk away from our hotel and for the first several days this was our spot for breakfast on the go. We loved their mini vegetable buns.
|mini vegetable buns.|
On our first day out, Simon saw some people munching on these pizza-like pancake snacks (diaozhabing) in the Xidan area and decided he had to try one. Fresh from the oven, lightly swiped with a sweet, savoury sauce and sprinkled with spring onions and sesame seeds, these simple Chinese pizzas were light, crispy and utterly delicious.
|tujia brand diaozhabing.|
Wangfujing and its famous snack street was on our list of places to check out, and during our week in Beijing, we went there twice. At night, this was a bustling hub of activity, packed with both locals and foreigners.
|wangfujing snack street.|
Here, you might opt for spiders, scorpions, starfish, seahorses and other strange creepy crawlies. Were they gimmicks or true delicacies? I never saw anyone munching on one of those, so call me unadventurous, but I gave it a miss.
|are you up for some creepy crawlies?|
Instead, we went with some beautifully seasoned lamb skewers. Now this was a good choice!
|grilled lamb skewers.|
We also liked these thin, crispy meat-filled pancake-dumpling things.
|fried thin dumplings.|
When in Beijing, having Peking duck is a must. I knew I probably wouldn't get around to trying all the best restaurants serving this dish, so I decided early on that the Dadong chain would be my top pick. I can say I was very, very satisfied with my choice - the Peking duck served here is the most refined I've ever had. One could not say the same about my assembling skills, however...
|peking duck from dadong.|
Lamb tripe (baodu) is also big in Beijing so I had to try it. This plate came with a bowl of thick dipping sauce. I couldn't quite identify the flavours, but it matched quite well with the chewy tripe. Having said that, I didn't particularly like nor dislike this. I would say the one I had wasn't really my thing, but I'd seen lamb tripe prepared in other ways and I would be happy to give it another go should I visit Beijing again.
|lamb tripe (baodu).|
Being the huge city it is, you can quite easily find a wide selection of Chinese food from various regions in Beijing. Sichuan food seemed to be quite popular here. Quite a few shops and roadside stalls would sell squid, tofu and vegetables sizzled in an oily and exhilaratingly spicy chilli concoction.
We also had a really scrumptious Sichuan-style hot and sour fish soup with preserved vegetables in a restaurant.
|we drank this soup by the spoonful.|
We got somewhat lost one day and wandered into a rather drab superstore where locals do their shopping. There would be a floor with stalls devoted to socks and underwear, a floor just for toys, and so on. This didn't really interest us, but we did walk around a little and stumbled upon a food court with very cheap food. At this point we still haven't had a taste of the dumplings (jiaozi) in Beijing, so here we jumped at the opportunity. Simply dipped in a bit of vinegar and chilli, these were absolutely moreish.
|some classic steamed dumplings (jiaozi) in a bamboo basket.|
On one cold night, we got this warm and toasty adzuki bean mousse from a hip little dessert bar, sprinkled with peanuts and strewn with grass jelly and tapioca pearls.
|a thick, comforting dessert - just the thing for a cold night in beijing.|
During our last two or three days in Beijing, we adopted another place near our hotel as our takeaway breakfast spot. Duck burger to go? Yes please.
|this duck burger was a little soggy from being reheated in the microwave, but it was still rather scrumptious.|
And - that's it for now, but there's more to come. Stay tuned!