Archives for posts with tag: china
Breakfast, 7 am Qingdao
We found this place that looked similar to the food I had in X’ian.  It was just opening and it looked decent enough and more importantly there were photos of the food.. The photos were located high up so, there was a lot of pointing and charades going on.   i wasn’t confident of what were were getting but, it worked out.
a tomato and meat broth. There was a really nice, sesame oil back note. There was silky ribbons of egg and some homemade noodles in it.
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Qingdao is right on the water.. it is known for it’s seafood.  I mean, it’s known to me and people that are interested in food, for it’s seafood.. For a historian, or for a traveler, i am sure it’s known for lots of other things. For me, I know about the Tsingtao Beer, i know that it has some connection to Germany but, really, i know about the seafood.   There is a spectacular selection in the city and I am a seafood guy.. Big fan of Qingdao cuisine.

I love celery.. This dish was cold celery with sesame oil and these little shrimp.  really awesome. the quality of all the seafood in Qingdao is pretty awesome..

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My day had started in Newark NJ at 3 o’clock in the afternoon on December 10th, it was now 8 pm on November 11th in Beijing China.  After a 17 hour trip, i arrived at a hotel near the airport, in some industrial complex,  I would be catching a flight to Qingdao China, just 8 hours from then.  No time to unpack, no time to really take the 2 hour taxi ride the center of the city,  the best I could do was grab a shower,  grab some food and hopefully catch a few hours sleep before my early flight.

With a little effort, i learned there were two restaurants a few hundred yards away from the hotel.  We walked up and noticed one restaurant had two people sitting in it, the other had 20 people sitting in it.   In this instance, we decided to follow the crowd.

While traveling through China and in terms of eating, there a few things that are a saving grace.

1)Restaurant Menu’s with Photos:  While, English and Photos would obviously ideal, sometimes English could mean a tourist trap. Though, it is not always the case.. I have encounter English menus with photos in the most unlikely of places.  Places that have never seen an American.  But, if you have a menu book with photos or there are photos on the wall, a bit of pointing, a bit of charades, can get you a really nice meal.

2)Fish Tanks:  Fish tanks are just like a picture menu.  In restaurants in Shanghai, or Guangzhou or Qingdao, or many coastal cities, restaurants often have large fish tanks.  Here this allows you to walk around and point at the various fish you would like to eat. There are normally live scallops, clams, oysters, shrimp, fish, frogs, snails, starfish and lots of other things.. You walk around and just point at things.. A little more charades and just see what they bring you.. Most of the time, it works out.

3)BBQ Places: Chinese BBQ Places are restaurants that have lots of sticks with skewered food on. Chicken wings, lamb parts, fish, vegetables and depending on the place, there could be all sorts of seafood as well.   Here you can just point and more charades and again, hope it all works out,  it usually always does.

4)Look around at other people’s tables:  This can be applied at every scenario listed above.  Some of the better things i have tried came from just wanting to eat something at someone’s table.  As a rule of thumb, if it looks like you want to eat it, chances are, you will want to eat it.  Many a time, i have taken a waiter on a quick walk to someone’s table where I would subtly or not so subtly point at a dish and ask for it.  The table of eaters, usually get a big kick of it.

Anyway, i digress.   Here we are, first night in Beijing, tired, hungry, things worked out.

Here is a chicken dish.. it was served on a dish with a burning fire underneath.. the dish was sizzling.  it was chicken, on the bone in a brown sauce with green peppers, hot peppers and a bottom layer of onion. the sauce was had a rich onion flavor, the bottom layer of onion cooked and kept the chicken from burning.  it was a really lovely dish.

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Cold dark noodles in a spicy and garlicky vinegar sauce

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We ordered some sticks.  There was lamb, lamb kidneys and chicken wings.

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A plate of dumplings

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they were interesting as they were filled with egg, mushroom and scallions. really nice.

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We also had a plate of greens and a few beers. a smashing start.. Dinner was 172 rmb. Or, like 20 bucks with a few beers.

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This is some really traditional Yangzhou Food.. This restaurant has been open for many years and has been in many locations. This is where our host had her graduation celebration, when she was getting out of college.

We started with a plate of these rice cakes.. It was something like gaubao I think she called them.. They were these rice crackers on a plate and along comes a sizzling pot of some clear starchy liquid with a mushroom ginger broth that was poured over it.. Giving the rice cake that half crunchy half wet consistency.

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So now it was time for lunch. The Chinese are really on top of lunch. If it were up to me we would work through lunch. I love to eat, don’t get me wrong but, when it comes to business, i have no time for food. I am not up for a multi course affair. I brought power bars and can soldier through..But, the guys I have encountered are very regimented. Lunch is at 12 or 1230 and they start to complain and get cranky if you don’t stop working. You can certainly use this to your advantage if you are negotiating at this point. “Just give me the nickel and we can go to lunch” sort of thing.

So we are literally in the middle of nowhere. We have driven down these dirt roads through places that look like they have been hit by bombs. i am really not looking forward to eating lunch. It also scares me that we are in this rural area that has lots of farms. There are also these standing swamps where I see all these people fishing in. I am hoping that we are not eating what is being grown and fished here.. Everything is covered in this film of dust and grime.. even the vegetables.

We walk into this huge empty building and there is nothing indicating it’s a restaurant. We notice this shady sort of pile of dishes with this crude hose sticking out of a wall. I am shaking my head, as I am getting really scared. We go upstairs and sit in this empty room with a lazy susan. I have no idea we are in for.

You know, the usual.. More cold goose:

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So, here was dinner last night. It was really high end. I think it was like 120 bucks for the three of us. Essentially, it was the equivalent of going to Per Se and getting like the truffle and wine tasting add ons. The food here is unique.. It’s international let’s say in its presentation and preparation.

Here you have tofu skins wrapped up like little crepes sitting in a chicken broth.. Super delicate, really lovely.. The serving dish is definitely the game changer here. Like nothing i have seen in 99 percent of the restaurants.

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So Mao is from the Province of Hunan and further more a little farming village called Shaoshan.. Besides farms and the birthplace of Mao, there is not much doing… So, some enterprising person decided to Capitalize on the popularity of the place and opened a chain of places featuring the cuisine of Hunan and the name of Mao.. Though, i am not for certain that the place we went to was that chain, there was plenty of references to Mao and lots of fun posters around… Fun for me, perhaps inspirational and terrifying for others..

This meal was spectacular chain or not,i think the two have different connotations.. Plus, i don’t know how well a crappy restaurant would fare carrying such a significant name in it’s title..

There is our buddy and he is ordering again, for us.. All the waitresses are in their Chinese Red Jump Suits.. Mao would have been happy..

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Out come the peanuts and spicy pickled bean curd..

Fried fish and spicy salt:

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So, I am back safe and sound. I spent the last 12 days traveling around China. I was in Yangzhou which is around 5 hours car ride north of Shanghai.  In addition to Yangzhou I was in a few other cities. This was the first restaurant I went to, the night we landed.

I was with a Chinese Host who helped us navigate the menu.  Here is a recap. I hope you enjoy the food:

I requested we go for some Sichuan Food:Thick gluttonous noodles with the classic Sichuan Combination of hot and a little vinegar

This was one of the better dishes of the night:

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