Archive for the ‘China’ Category

Must Do in Beijing

January 10, 2008

Forbidden City, Tienanmen Square, The Great Wall. Got ripped off at an antique store, almost got killed by a car when crossing the streets… Yes, I did all the things I was supposed to do in Beijing. Last and the most important thing to do was to go eat Peking Duck. Remember my post on homemade peking duck?

I was very excited to go to one of Beijing’s most famous Peking Duck joints. After researching around, we decided to go to the Dadong Roast Duck Restaurant, which was also included in NYT’s 36 hours in Beijing. After our cab driver got lost (wtf! If the place is one of the most popular duck restaurants, how the hell was he not able to get us there?!), we finally arrived. We had to wait for about 30 minutes, while the restaurant provided free box wine (yep, that same box wine you drank in college). Also I took these pictures after having many glasses of them, hence they are rather blurry.

They have an open duck oven area that customers can see through a glass window. Below freshly blown up ducks were brought out to be roasted in wood burning oven, and just like everything else in China, there was a master who knows what he was doing, and all the soldiers were lining up, just watching what the experts do (and one guy picked his nose with his bare finger!!!!!!!)

We didn’t have to wait too long once we sat down. A whole duck was delivered to our table, and a skillful chef cut the skin into bite sizes, and man, the way he cut just enough meat with skin was definitely an art.

Look how beautiful they were plated. It tasted the way it is supposed to be. Crunchy, and not too greasy. Whatever magic happens in the oven makes it just right. Meat wasn’t dry (Chinese eat the meat part as well, which I totally agree with) either.

It was so shiny too.

We also ordered some fancy Chinese food as well. Below is scallops with brown sauce in a noodle nest. Very pretty. They might have gotten the idea from the Olympics stadium, aka Birds Nest.

They really know how to cook eggplants in China. It melted in my mouth, and was almost as memorable as the duck.

Oops, I did it again. After the meal was done, a sufficiently boozed up Yamahomo broke the stem of wine glass.

I have to say, though, I like my Peking Duck better. Maybe because the crepe thing and hoison sauce weren’t as tasty as mine. Still I have to say the crispness of the duck was superb.

The Great Wall, one of the 7 wonders of the world.

Dadong Roast Duck Restaurant
22 Dongsishitiao
Beijing, 100007
Tel: 010/5169-0328

Mysterious Chinese Wine

January 9, 2008

Chinese wine? The thought is kind of odd, don’t you think? I never knew it existed. One day after walking around the new Chinese contemporary art district called 798, I went to a convenience store near my hotel, and found booze section. Refrigerator was not refrigerated, and all the cold stuff was not cold. So I decided to buy wine. I saw some of the bottles I’ve seen here, but I had to try Chinese wine. When you think of Asia, including Japan, wine is usually made out of plum, rice, and other weird stuff, but not actually grapes. Even Japanese wines are pretty bad, I think.

I was suspicious, but I bought Fengshou red. It was 48 yuan, I believe, which is about $6.50 or so. Cheap enough. Brought it back to my hotel room, and tried it. Believe or not, it was actually more than decent. It tasted like WINE!

Then I kept hearing about how bad air quality of China is since I returned. I mean everyday was like the below picture. It’s not haze, just bad air quality. I could actually see the sun without shades, that’s how thick the smog was.

Did I drink poisonous wine that contains huge amounts of shit that kills you in 10 years, and by the time you realize it, it’s too late? I will let you know if my health gets worse.
This is one of the sculptures at 798 district. It’s Chinese version of Mr.

What $10 Can Buy in China

January 8, 2008

China was interesting. As you might know, the air is unbelievably dirty, and everyday when I woke up I appreciated and longed for clean air more and more. It’s hard to explain but my friend in China said, it’s basically smoking 10 packs of cigarettes without smoking it. It was so true. No cigarette smell, but whatever bad shit was in the air, I was sucking them in. I still have a bad cough (I should really stop smoking…).

Also I couldn’t make myself understood whatsoever. No one spoke English, and I basically relied solely on my friend who lives in Beijing.

She took us to this local restaurant near she used to live. It was only 10 minutes taxi ride from my hotel, but the scene was completely local. We were the only foreginers. Public bathrooms, where people actually shit on holes with shitting faces!! I am serious!

The restaurant, whatever its name was, was not for tourists. It was the real deal Chinese restaurant for Chinese people, no one else.

Luckily, she speaks fluent Chinese, so we got seated. Of course the menu was written only in Chinese, and certain things I can make sense of, such as beef, lamb, etc. Even so, I had no idea how it would taste, especially with my prior impression of Chinese local food being “cardboard infused dumplings” etc.

I don’t know how she does it, but she is a vegetarian in China, so she ordered all vegetarian dishes. I was a bit disappointed, so I insisted on ordering one beef dish. I just pointed out beef something something. It turned out to be beef intestine stew or something looks like it, and I couldn’t eat that shit.

Anyhow, the first dish that arrived at our table was very spicy mapo tofu (tofu and pork sauteed in a bean sauce) without any meat. This was very tasty. Spicy, but definitely mapo tofu flavored and even though they say meatless, I am sure they are using some meat juice somewhere..

We ordered two salads, one was garlic pickled cucumber (at least it tasted like like it) and this almost raw potato salad. It was very crunchy, sour, sweet, and a bit of spice. Red thing you can see is of course chili. Very refreshing taste.

Doesn’t this look like sweet and sour pork? This is peppers, onion and eggplant with some brown sauce. This was AMAZING. Nothing compared to what I have eaten here. Eggplant was melting in my mouth, while peppers were very crunchy. The flavor was also very good, just can’t tell what it was, and maybe it’s better not knowing what it was. Probably tablespoon of MSG was in it. Who knows…

Dessert was fried mushed beans of some sort, and on top was just simply sugar. This was extremely hot but tasted almost like sesame ball without the mochi-like texture. I love fried desserts.

This whole spread with 40 oz beers came to 67 yuan (just under $10). We just couldn’t believe how cheap it was. I still try not to think where the food ingredients came from.

Next post will be on Peking Duck. I didn’t wait an hour for the Beijing tourist “must do” for nothing.

Below is the view of new CCTV tower construction from my hotel window. It definitely looked cool/weird/huge/wtf. Apparently they connected two parts into one on 12/9/07–there was an one hour window just before the sun rose that they could connect it while both steel parts were at the same temperature (otherwise the different steel temperatures would cause the joints to collapse in the future). I can’t wait to see how it’s made on Discovery Channel.