I’m in Beijing! Follow me on my food journey…

Beijing is starkly different to Shanghai, or to any other city really. With not many high rise buildings, it’s full of tradition and culture. As the capital city of China, I guess the government has made an effort to preserve the history that is so important for a nation. The weather however is not something I can get used to easily. It has been freezing, literally. I can’t last more than half an hour standing outside and not more than 5 minutes with my hands out of my pockets. You see, I was silly and didn’t bring gloves with me nor have I had time to purchase any yet. This has made taking photos a rather difficult task.

The last few days have been filled with going to the hospital, eating out and sleeping a lot. The cold and dry weather requires a lot of energy for my body to keep up. If I was an animal, I’d probably be a bear as Winter is not an active season for me.

There’s one restaurant close to Yuye’s home which him and all his relatives love visiting. I had the privilege of dining there on quite a few occasions last year and it is also where we enjoyed our first dinner in Beijing this year. The restaurant, called Jin Long Teng Seafood Restaurant (金龙腾), has this fantastic dish called abalone sauce with mushroom (鲍汁百灵菇 bao zhi bai ling gu). I’m not too sure what this mushroom is called in English as Google Translate and Wiki didn’t really help me. The only thing I know is it’s not available in Australia.

Abalone sauce braised mushroom (鲍汁百灵菇 bao zhi bai ling gu) - 28RMB

The sauce is the hero of the dish. It’s so umami that it makes me (and obviously Yuye) want to lick the whole plate clean. The way to eat it is to cut the mushroom (knife and fork provided) into bite size pieces and enjoy the dish with a bowl of rice, putting the rice on the sauce and mixing everything together. This is one dish that Yuye really doesn’t have confidence in cooking at home so as a result, we visit this restaurant at least 5-6 times during any trip to Beijing.

Of course, our meal doesn’t end there. We also always order the salt baked prawns which is so crispy you can eat the whole thing along with the shell. Salt is already present on the skin, but sometimes when it’s not salty enough, Yuye rubs the shell on the chunky sea salt surrounding the dish.

Salt baked prawns (盐插虾 yan cha xia) - 24RMB for 0.25kg

A new dish we ordered this time to try was this hemp and mustard greens soup served in bamboo (竹筒火麻芥菜汤 - zhu tong huo ma jie cai tang). It was a very small serving and if served in Western society, a complaint would have been issued because it lacked all the side elements that were so obviously present on the menu photo. However, Yuye’s family is not one who like to complain so we left it at that. The soup itself was quite tasty, although nothing special. The ingredients however, was very healthy. Hemp, according to Wikipedia, is a non-psychoactive variant of cannabis (a legal food ingredient) that contains more omega 3 and essential oils than even walnuts.

Hemp & Mustard Soup served in Bamboo (竹筒火麻芥菜汤 zhu tong huo ma jie cai tang) - 18RMB

The scallops we ordered were nice but also nothing fancy. It was a dish that can be ordered in many Chinese restaurants back at home with its standard garlic, spring onions and coriander topped with a soy dressing and vermicelli on the bottom. In fact, when I looked up this restaurant on the internet, food websites suggested it was a Cantonese restaurant which most Chinese restaurants in Australia also fall under.

Garlic & vermicelli scallops (蒜泥粉丝扇贝 suan ni fen si shan bei) - 20RMB for 0.5kg (or 5)

As we were not too hungry that day (lunch was only consumed about 2 hours prior to dinner), we decided to order one last dish – a veggie dish – to end the evening. The veggie is called ‘ji mao cai’ (鸡毛菜) which really has no English translation. The literal meaning is chicken feather vegetable which came about through its appearance, but the closest translation I think should be baby bok choy. It tastes quite similar to bok choy but just smaller.

Garlic braised baby bok choy (蒜茸鸡毛菜 suan rong ji mao cai) - 26RMB

This restaurant is a little out of the way for tourists but it is reasonably close to a subway station – Xi Zhi Men Station (西直门站). The menu is all in Chinese as well which can be difficult to order but if you find yourself in the vicinity, do give this restaurant a try, the abalone sauce braised mushroom dish is fantastic and entices us back time after time.

Yesterday marks the last day of Chinese New Year. CNY always lasts for 15 days, ending on the 15th day of the lunar calendar and is also the last legal day for any private fireworks around China. There were lots of noise last night as people frantically try to finish off every last of their fireworks stash as if there’s any left over after midnight, you’ll have to return them to specified collection spots around town. No money would be paid for collection, nor are you allowed to throw them away as they are dangerous and of course, if you try to light any after that day, you will be heavily fined. This is the price you must pay for the fun and festivity.

It’s definitely a good thing as this decreases casualties and injuries caused by illegal or inappropriate usage (which, even with the law in place, still happens a lot). Yuye’s parents had a few spare fireworks left over from his cousins who had just returned to Australia so after dinner last night we stood in the -10c weather and lit the last few. Although beautiful, they were rather short-lived.

Our neighbours had better ones which would have cost a few hundred RMB (equivalent to about $60-70) but still only lasted a couple of minutes.

Every time I’m in China, I light fireworks or at least watch other people light them from a close proximity. It’s quite dangerous, since many people get injured. Even I’ve had a scare when I was little – a high bursting one didn’t light up properly and fell on my hair in a ball of flames. I didn’t get hurt, but I did lose a lot of hair as a result. This isn’t going to stop me from lighting or watching fireworks though as they are just so mesmerising. 😀

Question time: Have you ever lit your own fireworks or watched someone else light it close by? If yes, did you enjoy it or if no, would you consider doing it?

Jin Long Teng Restaurant (金龙腾酒楼)
Phone: (+8610) 66517868  66517668
Address: Xi Chen Area, Xi Zhi Men Nan Xiao Jie, Guo Ying Yuan No.9 Building, Beijing China (西城区西直门南小街国英园9号楼)
http://www.dianping.com/shop/511107

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22 comments… add one
  • Maureen February 7, 2012, 11:03 pm

    I’ve been thinking about you and all the things you’re going through.

    I don’t think there is any better statement about food than “we wanted to lick the plate clean.”

    Take care!

    Reply
    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 8, 2012, 1:53 pm

      Aww thanks Maureen. 🙂 I think we would have licked the plate if there wasn’t so many waiters standing around. 😛

      Reply
  • choux choux February 7, 2012, 11:16 pm

    Wow that mushroom looks exactly like abalone. So good. And those prawns! I’m such a salt fiend, I’d have done the exact same. I’ve noticed you’ve got instagram happening on twitter 😀

    I hope everything is going all right. Keep warm! 🙂

    Reply
    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 8, 2012, 1:52 pm

      It does look like abalone! In fact, it sort of tastes like it too. That’s why Yuye likes it so much. 😀

      OMG Are you serious??!! So all the photos I’ve been posting about China on Instagram actually works on Twitter?? I’m SO happy!! 😀 I think Instagram probably sends their own link to Twitter so it doesn’t need to be accessed on my side. Very good news. I’ll keep doing it then. 🙂 I don’t have you on Facebook so I can’t get you to check that, I’ve been sending it there too. I should use that as a new post update too. 😛

      Reply
  • Deanna February 8, 2012, 6:37 am

    Those scallops look amazing! I never thought I wanted to go to China (although Asia as a whole is very high on my priority list), but you’re changing my mind.

    Reply
    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 8, 2012, 1:49 pm

      You should consider China! Maybe go with a tour group so they take you to slightly cleaner places. The siteseeing around China’s actually quite nice and it has a lot of culture. 🙂

      Reply
  • anh@anhsfoodblog.com February 8, 2012, 9:13 am

    I miss China! Would love to go there more often but I don’t speak the language 🙁

    Reply
    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 8, 2012, 1:48 pm

      It’s not too bad if you don’t know the language, maybe go with someone who can speak a little? I see a lot of foreigners here and they seem to get by. 😀 I think your blog is either with Wordpress or Blogger right? Because I can’t access it in China. 🙁 I’ll have to comment on your blog when I get to Japan! Thanks for dropping by my blog though. 🙂

      Reply
  • Anna @ the shady pine February 8, 2012, 1:29 pm

    You must be exhausted! Glad there are the foodie places to check out in between all the visiting.

    Reply
    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 8, 2012, 1:47 pm

      I am a bit actually, but I’ve been sleeping well and eating well so it’s not too bad. 😀 There’s heaps of food here, probably more than back home! But just different sorts of food, not much western unfortunately.

      Reply
  • Hannah February 8, 2012, 1:58 pm

    Oooh, those are some orange sauces! 😛 Looking forward to following your “journey”, I love travel tales!

    Reply
    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 8, 2012, 2:02 pm

      The sauce is quite orange isn’t it…I think they actually put food dye in it but not certain. 😛

      Reply
  • JasmyneTea February 8, 2012, 2:16 pm

    It’s a pity you’re there for such a sombre reason, but at least you seem to be making the most of it! Love your food snaps 🙂

    Reply
    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 9, 2012, 1:35 am

      It is…but I’m still having fun when I’m not visiting the hospital. 🙂 Believe me, I’m eating so much every day that I need to eat digestion pills every night when I get home. I don’t think I can eat like for 3 weeks straight. 😛

      Reply
  • Winston February 8, 2012, 11:21 pm

    The whole meal sounds and looks like an absolute winner. Nice one, Jenny! And oooooooooh, Beijing…!! I was wondering where you travelled to haha… I love China. Have only been there once but the food really was outstanding beyond words. I’m so glad you had this meal because it seems superb. Hope all is well with the family and you continue to have safe travels the remainder of your trip. Take care! =)

    Reply
    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 9, 2012, 1:39 am

      Family’s doing ok at the moment, thanks! 🙂 My trip is only 4 days in so have a longggg way to go yet! 😛 Lots of food to be eaten and sites to visit and of course, Yuye’s grandpa too. Hope you had a good CNY! 🙂

      Reply
  • Nami | Just One Cookbook February 11, 2012, 5:02 am

    I can eat this place like every week! I love abalone. It looks so good! They all look very fresh and delicious. Chinese food is always hard to portion control since we order many dishes… But enjoy now and worry later. =D Thank you for sharing your travel journey. It’s fun to read!

    Reply
    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 11, 2012, 12:20 pm

      That’s so true! We always always order too much. Whenever someone orders just right and we barely need to take anything away, that person gets a big pat on the back. 😛 There’s no running away from the eating here, I just have to forget about the weight gaining and just eat. haha

      Reply
  • Kiran @ KiranTarun.com February 12, 2012, 7:05 pm

    Have fun in Beijing — I hope to travel there some day too. I’ve never seen such tender and tiny baby bok choy before. It looks so drool-worthy!!

    Reply
    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 13, 2012, 12:43 pm

      You should go! I keep telling people they should, but yet I’m posting up photos of insects and weird things that might scare people away. lol It’s really fun and there’s so much food! The only bad thing is the lack of good coffees…just had a very bad one last night. Yuck. 🙁

      Reply
  • Daisy@Nevertoosweet February 14, 2012, 7:58 pm

    Seems like you had a fantastic time in Beijing! I’m so glad that you’re still able to blog ~ I’ve never been to Beijing but have a few friends who have moved there and working there 🙂 Would love to check it out soon!

    The food looks amazing! I’ve never lit any fireworks myself, but I remember going to my cousin’s house and they lit fireworks near me. I was so so SO scared! 😀

    Reply
    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 15, 2012, 8:42 pm

      I like it here for a holiday but it’s quite dry and cold so not sure about working here long term 😛 you should visit for a holiday though, so much to eat and see!

      Reply

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