Monday, March 9, 2015

China: Beijing Part One

Tired and still jet lagged, we’re back from a long 10 day vacation to the far east. Beijing, Shanghai and the small town of Suzhou. It was an incredible experience. In all of my travels, this was my first trip to Asia and I have to say that it was nothing short of epic. The food, of course, was one of the many highlights. I will start with a few of our Beijing hits as this was our first stop. With so many food adventures, this is only part one. Stay tuned for part two which will include the swanky Courtyard and "all things bugs" at Beijing’s infamous Night Market. 

We arrived ready to eat. Our first stop was actually a small fast-food type Chinese spot near our hotel. It was late and we were hungry. No one spoke any English, there was no english on the menu and virtually no pictures. We like to go local. The fish/veggie dish with rice we ended up getting was surprisingly awesome and only cost about 3 American dollars. Ok, so far so good. In between seeing all the phenomenal historic sites and wonders Beijing had to offer, my mom was dying to hit up the “Fake” Market. This 6 story complex is full of everything from clothes, leather goods, jewelry, sunglasses and of course, a plethora of very convincing fake designer bags. On the top floor of this famous market sits a food court. This food court was bad ass and had everything from local cuisine to Indian food to pizza. I immediately headed for the dumpling counter while my mom and Ryan settled on noodles. My dad, a Jim Beam and Diet Coke...he’s not really into Chinese food. ;-) My dumplings were made fresh right in front of me. This took some time but the wait was worth it. Ryan loved his spicy noodles so much he wanted to come back the next day and although my mom didn’t love her noodle bowl...Ryan and I helped her finish it off. They were good. See the image below...good right?! All of the noodles were homemade and the broths were full of flavor. 

One of the highlights of our trip was our planned dinner at Made in China. Known for their open kitchens, spectacular decor and tender Peking Duck, it’s a must-try when in Beijing. This spot is located in the Grand Hyatt so expect Westernized prices and all the comforts of home (i.e. a detailed wine list, american liquors, etc). We started with Pork Dumplings and Egg & Pork Belly with dan dan mian (made from one long, fresh noodle). Even my dad was a happy camper with all of this pork goodness. Our mid-course was their Peking Duck. Served with all of the traditional accompaniments, they did offer one stand out addition. A small bowl of white sugar. We were instructed by our server to dip the crispy duck skin into the sugar and eat this alone. The sugar and duck skin combo literally melts in your mouth. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience but not being a sweet flavor fan, I moved on to assembling my Peking Duck wraps. Ryan and my dad however, thought this combination was the greatest thing since sliced bread.  We then chowed down on their Waygu Beef and String Bean entrees and finished off the meal with a dessert sampler. A fantastic experience.

One of our lunch stops was actually at a Korean restaurant. Korean BBQ is huge in both Beijing and Shanghai. My dad needed some meat in his life and Ryan was "jonesing" for more noodles so the hilariously named "Yummy Kiss" Korean restaurant fit the bill. My dad and I split the BBQ Rib Sampler. Ribs marinated in 5 different ways...YUM. I was a little disappointed as this place did not serve wines by the glass and the service was underwhelming. But the food was good none the less. Apparently, westernized wine has only become popular in China in the last five years and still hasn't made it’s mark. It’s cool. I can roll with rice wine in a pinch. 

Please enjoy the following food porn from Beijing and stand by for Part 2! If you have any questions or have a trip planned, feel free to comment or message me. 

Delicious pork and vegetable fried dumplings at the “Fake” Market. 

My mom’s spicy vegetable noodles. She gave them a 5, I would’ve given them an 8. Very good. 

One of Made in China’s fabulous Peking Duck Chefs carving up the goods. 

The spread. Notice the little bowl of sugar. 

Our smorgasbord of desserts. Amazing. 

Our BBQ rib sampler at a Korean restaurant in Beijing. English translation of the name of the restaurant?...The Yummy Kiss..(we literally laughed out loud;-))

Eat Up Everywhere!

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