Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tea in Asia: Day 7 - Beijing, China

It was another travel day on the 7th day of my 2010 Asia trip.

We took a morning turbulent flight to Hong Kong (from Taipei) for a brief stopover and then flew to Beijing, China. We were served lunch on board the small plane. I didn’t get a picture of it, but they gave us dim sum! How sweet is that, huh? Actually, it wasn’t good at all. The haw gow, siu mai and other dumplings weren’t tasty at all. I’m pretty sure the dumplings were of the frozen variety. I was very disappointed.

It was really late into the evening by the time we got settled at the Redwall Hotel. A bunch of us decided to go for dinner. CY wanted to go to the hutongs to try some local cuisine, but majority of the group weren’t in the mood. We ended up walking quite a few blocks before turning around. I had seen a promising restaurant that we walked by, so I suggested we go there instead of going to McD’s.

We walked back to where I thought the restaurant was, but I was wrong. We ended up finding a decent looking hotel restaurant down the street. As soon as we walked in, I knew that it was a restaurant for tourists. We had been walking so long with empty stomachs that we just sat down and began ordering food.

I have to explain how we (Chinese people) eat dinner. I thought it was common knowledge since people like to eat Chinese food. Anyway, when we eat dinner, there are always a few dishes (some fish, some veggies, and some meat). Everyone serves themselves at the table, although the host is supposed to serve the guests. Anyway, the various dishes are supposed to be eaten with bowls of rice. Some people like to take a bit of everything and put it on their small plate. I was raised to moderately scoop only what you want to eat into my bowl of rice and then go for more after I was done portion. To sum everything up, dinner is served family style.

So while our large table looked over the photo-filled menu, people started to throw out what they all wanted to eat. One of the teachers had suggested that everyone could order a dish, but I tried to explain that we were going to have way too much food (we probably had a table of 12 people). I began stressing out because my warning fell on deaf ears.

We eventually compromised and began ordering a few dishes. There were some people who wanted to eat fried rice, so we asked the waitress how large the servings were. She roughly estimated that the each bowl would feed 2-3 people, but then she motioned a small bowl with her hands. We were unsure how large the portions were so we just ordered 4 bowls of fried rice and 2 bowls of steamed rice to eat with all the dishes.

We ordered the “chicken with flavour”, but I’m pretty sure it was just soy sauce chicken.

We needed some veggies, so someone suggested we get the stir-fried string beans.

Meatballs and some sort of sweet and sour sauce were a favourite, probably because it was so familiar.

I chose the braised pork hock. It was quite fatty, but it was very tender and moist.

BZ had ordered the braised oxtail. I had enjoyed oxtails at the Ackee Tree back at Humber, so I was really anticipating this dish. Although it looks like there were a lot of oxtails, the serving size of this dish was disappointingly small.

Since were going to have Peking duck later in the week, JV and I figured that the lamb wraps would’ve been a great way to introduce the famous dish.

Another veggie dish was the simply stir-fried bok choi and shiitake mushrooms.

The giant bowls of fried rice arrived at our table. I don’t know if it was the language barrier or maybe something else, but a few of us began to panic because we had ordered two more bowls of plain rice. In the end, we had to cancel the bowls of plain steamed rice. We definitely had way too much food. The guys just packed the leftovers up and brought it back to their hotel rooms to enjoy later.

Read about my eighth day in Asia.

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