Thursday, June 3, 2010

Breakfast in Beijing

This post originally took place on May 27 and 28, 2010.

I went for 3 days in China without decent Chinese food. Jet lag prevented me from staying up and getting a second dinner so I decided to make it out to breakfast. The only problem was I had no idea where we were or where to go.

The night manager at our hotel, who called himself Kevin, pointed out where we were on a map but couldn't quite describe how to get to the one decent Chinese restaurant in the area. It turns out that we were in a Korean tourist and business enclave and most of the places were either Korean or international chains like KFC. He started walking me out the hotel to point me in the right direction but then kept on walking across the street, and then through this gate

all the way to the restaurant.

It was a slow day and really early in the morning (5:30 AM), and he said he had the time. He was so hospitable and generous! I also think he couldn't quite believe I wanted to actually eat Chinese food and was curious to see if I would like it.

They had a breakfast table set up in front.

I got these mini pork buns, a soft tofu dish called Dofuanow, a tea egg, and a freshly fried sesame ball.

The pork buns were pillowy and had a nice anise flavor to them. The dofuanow was fantastic. It had fresh, soft tofu that they scooped out of a huge vat with what I'm guessing is a thin fermented bean paste sauce and minced cilantro on top. There was also a side garnish called Tsienshaw which Kevin said is for people to modulate the saltiness of their meal. He estimated that all of it cost 8 yuan (just over a dollar). I only had dollars on me and Kevin insisted on paying for everything including some pork buns and a sesame ball that I brought back for mom and dad.

Here are my parents the next morning, our last day in China.

My mom was super skeptical of the whole idea, but she was pretty happy once we started eating. They changed the toppings on their tofu, I guess they rotate them to keep things interesting. I had some fresh, warm soy milk (dojiung) with my breakfast. And I ate yotiao for the first time!

Yotiao, Chinese fried dough, is also the name of a protein I studied for my PhD thesis. Our breakfast was 15 yuan, just over $2.

Good and cheap Chinese restaurant near our hotel
No way I'm going to figure out the address
Opens at 4 AM.

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