Mia Hungry Long Time!

When in Beijing…

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Summer of 2010. I spent five glorious days in Beijing, China. It was awesome. I was going home to visit my family in Jakarta when I figured I might as well tack on a few days and visit an old friend who was living in Beijing at the time (Hi Jarkko!). I had never been to China, I had a place to stay, so why the hell not, right? So I bought my ticket in like April, and waited eagerly for the trip. Unfortunately, about a few weeks before the trip, my friend told me that due to some sucky unforeseen circumstances he wasn’t going to be in Beijing at the time of my visit. DOOM! That was a total bummer. But anyways, he told me I can still stay at his place and he’ll have his friends (which consisted exclusively of Swedish dudes) show me around town. Well, seeing that I’m not the type who would say no to Swedish dudes a free baller apartment in the middle of an exotic city, I was stoked!

So there I was. In the middle of a strange city (where by the way, NO ONE speaks English – seriously, it was mindblowing), hangin’ out with a bunch of Swedish dudes, and having the best time of my life.

Okay. Since I have spent a total of five days in Beijing, I now consider myself an expert (obviously). So here is what I suggest you do (food-wise), when you find yourself in Beijing:

1. Know that the dollar goes a long, long, long way. Food was MAD CHEAP. It was out of control. About an hour after I got off the plane, I went to this Korean BBQ place where we had a ridiculous amount of super delicious food for like 8 bucks a person. Here in NYC, a bbq dinner in KTown will put you back at least 30 or 40 bucks a head.
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2. Eat this thing:
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I have NO IDEA what this is called. The name of the restaurant and everything on the menu was in Chinese, but I saw a bunch of these spots all over town. You basically order this gigantic bowl of hot chilies, and pick the other ingredients. We picked broccoli, shrimp, and quail eggs. Dudes, I love, love, absolutely love quail eggs. Anyways, it was super delicious. It was also super spicy. The place that we went to had like this group of like seven dudes and they were all sweating and shirtless. Epic.
Here’s a close up of the chilis:
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And this is me, sweating but not shirtless:
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3. Go to Guijie (aka Ghost Street) and eat Sichuan food! Ghost Street is a super famous food street in Beijing. There’s about a hundred restaurants in a one mile stretch. It’s particularly beautiful at night, with glowing red lanterns all along the sidewalks. This area is especially famous for hot pot, but there are all kinds of other delicious spicy Sichuan goodness. SO yes, definitely go here. However, this leads me to my next suggestion:

 

4. Do NOT go to Ghost Street with two Swedish dudes and a random crazy Chinese girl.This is what happened to me: I went to an Usher concert with two of my new Swedish friends: Simon A and Simon B. Yes, they are both named Simon. Simon A was gifted four tickets to see Usher in concert by this cute little Thai thing that was in serious pursuit of his Swedish manliness, and as he was my official tour guide, he took me and one of his good friends: Simon B. You see, Simon B is quite the charmer around town. He always has one or two lovely Chinese companions by his side and this night was no different. The night of the concert, he brought this bodacious babe that we shall call Random Crazy Chinese Girl (RCCG). After the show (where RCCG danced like a stripper and whispered to me numerous times that Usher was seriously giving her the sexy eyes despite us being like two miles from the stage), we were all hungry so I requested to be taken to this famous street. The two Swedish dudes, being foreigners, didn’t really know much about this street and its supposedly delicious establishments. RCGG, on the other hand, claimed to be an expert, and took us to the one restaurant that was well, NOT DELICIOUS. She insisted that we went to this one place, despite it looking totally sketchy (and empty!) and ordered for us as none of us could read the menu. Anyways, I was disappointed. The food wasn’t bad, but it was nowhere near good.
This is the restaurant:
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Here’s our food:
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You see that big bowl on the right? That’s frog stew. It was totally gross. I swear that there was an actual frog head in there. Oh lordy.
This is some tofu thing that tasted like rubber bands:
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Here’s some.. fuck if I remember.
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And here’s the only decent thing we had:
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Crayfish! I love me some crayfish.
Anyways, I suggest that prior to visiting Ghost Street, do a bit of Googling or bring a legit (non-crazy) local with you.

 

5. Go check out The Great Wall and afterwards eat fish that YOU CATCH YOURSELF. Or in my case, caught by my driver. I went with one of my new friends, this super nice girl Amy, who was a local to Beijing and a fellow epicurean. We rented a private car with a driver. Baller move, I know. It was totally worth it – the Great Wall was a few hours from Beijing and our driver was this super knowledgeable dude who took the scenic route there. The Great Wall was well, friekin epic, duh. The only bad thing was that it was a horribly cloudy day and I literally could not see anything beyond the wall:
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Regardless, I was on the Great Wall of China and could not be any happier:
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So anyways, after the hiking of the Wall, Amy suggested that we went to this seafood restaurant twenty minutes away to eat some super yummy seafood. She used to go there as a kid and promised me that it would not disappoint. I have no idea where this was or what it was called, so sucks for you, but here are some pics anyways.
This is the trout pond:
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These are the fishing poles:
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And this my friend, is our lovely driver/fisherman of the day:
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He got us a trout:
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And a salmon:
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I was squaling the entire time. So after “we” caught the fish, they weighted them and cooked them for us. We opted for the trout to be grilled, and the salmon to be prepared two ways: as sashimi and in a stew.
Here’s the trout being cooked:
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And here’s the end result:
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Oh my lord, it was DELICIOUS.
Here’s a picture of the freshest salmon sashimi ever:
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And here’s the stew:
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Man, that girl Amy. She knew what she was talking about. The food was off the hook. It was way too much for the three of us though. Not too cheap either. If somehow you come across this place, bring a bunch of people or opt for just one fish.

 

6. Eat teppanyaki! I have no idea where I went, but the food was first class, and it was crazy cheap.
There are a bunch of great teppanyaki spots all over town, just ask your local Swedish tour guide, because apparently the Swedes in Beijing are all about teppanyaki!
The place that I went to had the longest friekin teppanyaki table I have ever seen in my life:
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Seriously first class food. I only took one lame picture because I was busy eating okay drinking (and eating too but mostly drinking. I’m on vacation WOOOOO).
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7. Have brunch (and expect 7 hours until your coffee is delivered).
I went to this brunch spot called Element Fresh and had really good porridge. This place is totally “Westernized” but after a dozen of sweaty greasy (albeit delicious) food in hot (sometime stinky) little places, it was a nice change to go to this really nice ‘modern” joint. Plus, free Wifi! Again, it was super cheap and the food was good. The only sucky thing was that it took them FOREVER to deliver my coffee. It was the first thing that I ordered and it was the last thing that showed up on the table (after the check!).
Here’s the place (LOOK! SO MANY WHITE PEOPLESS):
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Here’s my breakfast “set”:
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Yummy porridge accompanied by eggs and springs rolls:
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And my friend Simon had “The Big American”:
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8. Have dim sum. Go anywhere. It’ll be good. Like, really, really good. Except for the pigeon. DON’T ORDER THE PIGEON. That shit was gnarly.
Awesome pork buns:
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Awesome hakau (crystal shrimp dumpling – my favorite thing ever):
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Awesome veggie dumplings:
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Awesome mango pudding thing, curiously in the shape of a fish:
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NOT AWESOME AT ALL cold fried pigeon *gag:
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9. This isn’t food related but you gotta do this. Go to the giant souvenir mall in Sanlitun (where you can get Chinese made stuff that they sell here in Chinatown in the US for like 0.0004% of the price) and do this thing. I didn’t do it because I was in a rush (to see Usher? BAH I’M STUPID) but please, please do this, because it’s SO AWESOME:
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10. Go check out Beijing’s Hutongs (old city) and eat gourmet pizza. That’s right. The people I met in Beijing were all crazy about pizza! On my last night, Simon A took me to this amazing little pizza joint called Hutong Pizza in the Houhai lake hutong. This place is a trip to find! It’s in a little alley within an alley but totally worth the trek. The decor is super cute and their square pizzas were delicious.
This is what we had:
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And that’s that!
I had an amazing time. Five days were definitely not enough. Thanks to Jarkko for lending me his super pimp bachelor pad, and to Simon A for being the best darned tour guide ever (BIG PEEZZAAAA).

 

Oh one more thing:

11. Make sure that you go to Smuggler’s bar (the local foreigner pub) and order the 100 redbull-vodka drink deals. It’s cheap and it will get you trashed ass drunk (and if you’re like me, it will also make you vomit-y the following day ALL DAY LONG – whatever, totes worth it):
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Lots of love,

Mia

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Filed under: Beijing, Travelin' and eatin', , , , , , , , , , , ,

One Response

  1. pai says:

    LOoks delicious 😀

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