It can be a bit daunting to head in to a Chinese restaurant – in China – when you don’t speak a word of Chinese other than perhaps a very awkward “xie xie” for thank you, let alone read the characters on the menu. And if you’re after authentic cuisine, the last thing you want to do is eat at a restaurant that has “English menu” emblazoned on its door. So what’s the solution? A food tour!
If you’d like to try the food in Beijing for yourself, we recommend booking a tour with Hias Gourmet. They have years of experience and put a lot of emphasis on giving you a rounded food AND cultural experience. They have standard tours but can also customise tours.
They also have revamped their website, which we love! Check it out here: www.hiasgourmet.com
Hias Gourmet Beijing food tours
When I first came to Beijing I thought I needed to make do with either Chinese products, which didn’t really cover cake baking and so on, or fork out mega bucks for the limited range of international products at places like April Gourmet and Jenny Lou’s. But there is a lot more out there that most expats here just don’t know about…
My first discovery was Ziwei Hongbei (滋味烘焙), which translates roughly as possibly “taste of baking”. I came across it during a random Taobao search. It’s one of the few Taobao stores to also have a real walk-in shop. The shop itself is a crazy place that gets as busy as a lingerie warehouse being hit by a coach-load of hungry seconds shoppers. Service is horrendous and trying to get the shopgirls to pay attention to you and your questions rather than yelling out across the shop and laughing with the other staff is near impossible, but it does have a LOT of things you just can’t get at your regular Beijing supermarkets and kitchen supplies places. It’s got a wide range of Western-style baking tools, such as silicon cake pans, portable ovens, baking trays, measuring cups, and spatulas (for an eighth of the price you’d pay for the dressed-up version at Cuccina), and a modest range of Western-style baking ingredients, including flour, bulk cream cheese, cake-decorating supplies and gel food colouring.
Not all, but most of the products in the store are made in China and not particularly high-end, but when you feel like you’ve been deprived of these kinds of things and held hostage to buying them from the above-mentioned price wolves, then Ziwei Hongbei feels like a gold mine.
Perhaps wait a week or two until the sawdust and other construction pollutants stop settling on your fresh meat before heading to the newly re-opened Sanyuanli Market.
The new face of Sanyuanli Market
After a one-month-long face lift, one of Beijing’s most-loved-by-expats markets, Sanyuanli Market, has just re-opened to the public today, but despite all the meat, seafood and other fresh produce sitting out in the open as per usual, construction is still ongoing. Continue reading
Yesterday I finally made the trip down to Fengtai district to check out the hotel supply place I’d heard about a LONG time ago, HEC Hotel Equipment Depot (or Corp., depending on what sign you’re looking at). Actually it was really easy to get to – just a short walk from Beijing South Railway Station (subway Line 4, see map link below), so it won’t be too long before I head here again.
Pots, pans and more at HEC Hotel Equipment Depot
Carving the duck into 80 slices
I’ve been to Duck de Chine’s original venue – 1949 Hidden City, tucked behind Pacific Century Plaza in Sanlitun – too many times to count. When family or friends are in town, it’s always one of the places at the top of my list to take them to in order to give them the obligatory ‘Peking Duck’ experience. It’s definitely more expensive than many other local-style duck restaurants (expect to spend around RMB 200-400 pp), but it’s also a much classier way to sample this classic Beijing dish. The big duck restaurants, such as Da Dong Kao Ya Dian (大董烤鸭店) and the horrendous Quanjude (全聚德), are bustling, clamorous affairs. Duck de Chine, on the other hand, is serene and feels like fine dining, Chinese style, but with Western ideals of service. Continue reading