Oh My! What Have I Been Eating!?

In regard to food, my motto on on this trip has been, "I'll try anything once." So just what have I been trying?!

I've had some pretty delicious food… and some pretty NOT delicious food.

Let's start with the Beijing classic, Peking Duck. Having already tried Da Dong Roast Duck last year, my Chinese colleagues suggested that we go to a more traditional place. They settled on Xi He Ya Yuan in Zhongguancun, and I was not disappointed!

The duck is carved right in front of you, and it is served in multiple sections. Notice the three plates. One contains just the skin, another contains meat, and the other contains a combination of meat, fat, and skin. All three were DELICIOUS. It is served with some tortilla-like wraps, and you make a mini-burrito with veggies, duck, and some blueberry sauce.

Of course, the entire duck is used so let's not forget the duck head!

This one was a tough one for me to put down. It's not that it tastes bad. It tastes like the rest of the duck, but having to pick through the bones and stuff is difficult, and it really reminds you of what you're eating! Here's me taking it down.

I didn't get a picture of it, but after they carve the duck for you, they take the bones / rest of the duck back and fry it. They bring it over, and it's pretty good. Tastes like KFC!

I've been trying a variety of soups. Some have been good, some not. Most of the soups here in Beijing have had a lot of egg floating around, and I'm just not a huge fan of those soups. Both of the soups in the picture below were fish soups, and they had a lot of bones floating around in there with the fish. The one on the left was spicy, and I liked that one. The one on the right wasn't exactly my style. But in the middle there is a pretty good dish that I've had at a few restaurants here. In the middle is a mound of pork, onions, and celery, I believe. There are little buns that work like mini-tacos. You peel them open, put some pork mix in there, and chow down. I like!

It's tough to find Mexican food in China, but my friend took me to Cantina Agave in Shanghai, and if you're in Shanghai and need to take a break from the Chinese food, this is a great place! The tequila selection is amazing, and we had awesome chips and guac. The guacamole rivaled some of the better guacamole I've had in the USA.

We went for dim sum in Shanghai, and my friend picked the Longemont Hotel's restaurant. Great stuff! The bottom dish is filled with pork ribs. I don't love how the Chinese cut ribs. As you can see, they're cut into small chunks, rather than having full ribs that you can bite the meat off of. The dish on the top is some type of sweet, custard filled dessert. Does anyone know what that's called? I'd love to order that at the next dim sum restaurant I go to in the USA.

And now for the grossest thing I've eaten here yet. That would be pig ears. They're obviously processed in some way or another, but they were cold nonetheless. I decided my strategy would be to just grab one and down it as fast as possible. I plopped it into my mouth and started to chew vigorously. It didn't help that the cartilage in there makes it a pain to chew. Just when I thought I could swallow it, i started to smell what I was eating, and then I thought to myself, "Where have I smelled this before?" And then I remembered - we used to buy pig ears for our dog to chew on. All of a sudden I had that pet-store-dog-treat-aisle smell / taste in my mouth, and I nearly gagged. Luckily, I was able to keep it down and avoid embarrassment. But like I said early on, I'll try anything ONCE. ONCE means ONCE. That is the last pig ear I'm ever going to eat!

And of course, let's not forget duck blood. That's right. Just the blood. While you may think this is a liquid (and perhaps you can find it served that way), it's actually mixed with something or other and prepared in a way that gives it a tofu-like texture and feel, and it has a black-ish color. I'll let the pic below speak for itself. Honestly, it didn't really taste like anything. It tasted kinda like tofu, but I don't think I'll be rushing back for seconds.

Here comes another week… I'll write another post if I eat anything interesting this week!

Update: Thanks, John! I thought the pig ears were raw... they were not. Fixed!


John April 20, 2011 at 11:31 am

There are eight major regional cuisines in Chinese food. It's interesting to explore them. The sauce going with the duck was sweet fermented flour sauce. It was made of fermented flour, has nothing to do with blueberry. The custard dessert is called Steamed Creamy Custard Bun, or Lai-Wong-Bao in Cantonese. The "spicy fish soup" was not regarded as soups, but a dish. People usually don't drink the soup-like chilly oil. It was a dish from Sichuan province. The ribs were cut in short chunks in order to release the flavor of bone marrows during steaming. The pig ears were marinated (cooked) and refrigerated. Chinese don't eat raw pig ears. Looking forward to more of your reports

Kevin April 20, 2011 at 11:41 am

@John, Thanks for all that info! Especially about the steamed crispy custard bun! In regard to the blueberry sauce, this was actually a special blueberry sauce. They also had the standard fermented flour sauce, but this place had a blueberry sauce w/ a special sugary poprocks-style side. As for the pig ear, thanks for letting me know it was cooked. I'll update my post!

Mark December 19, 2012 at 01:02 am

I like to say I'll try anything once, too, though I've qualified that by saying "...if it's considered food in the western hemisphere." Thanks for stretching that envelope a bit! I'd probably love most of this, and I'd sure give it all a shot.

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