Discovering new countries is offering an all-sense journey, since you see country specific looking people, hear strange sounding languages, touch weird objects and of course smell and taste different kind of dishes. Although Chinese restaurants are present all around the world it is still a special feeling to eat Chinese specialities in the land where they come from. Usually I eat locally, so I haven’t had much experience with Chinese cuisine in Europe, but now that I am here, I have this opportunity.
Walking down the street you’ll see one restaurant after another, that are occupied during lunch and dinner hours. People like to eat outside, because it is not expensive, for example one meal costs in street food restaurants around 10-20 RMB wich is bellow 3 €. Trying out the food here was special for me, because I haven’t been eating spicy food a lot until I got to know Chinese chili that is intense and well it burns twice. At the beginning I was exaggerating with the chili sauce a bit, because it was funny to have a numb sensation in my mouth, but… there is the principal rule, that what goes in, must go out, so on the way out I didn’t find it that funny anymore. Beside this I have been trying out all sorts of dishes, so here is my culinary exploration:
- stinky tofu… at first you really notice the smell… it stinks as hell, but trying it out made me realize that it is delicious. The only thing to add is, that it is really greasy, so eating it every day, won’t make you fitter, but rather fatter 😛
- rice noodle soup (mifen)… they eat it usually for breakfast, which is so weird for me, because in my culture we eat soups for lunch or maybe dinner. The thing worth mentioning is the price… you see it on the menu, but if you know special passwords like “er liang mifen“, it will unlock the local price and so you will get it for half the price. Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work everywhere… you can’t change the fact that you look like a Westie.
- hot pot… in the middle of the table is placed hot boiling water, in which you are putting uncooked ingredients you order by your choice. Once they’re ready you take them out and spice them with a sauce that you mixed in the self service sauce bar. This dish is meant to be eaten by more people, because you really get a lot to eat. It definitely takes some experience to know how long the veggies have to swim in the boiling water, so I would advise you to do it with a native. Be prepared to be sitting for over an hour, because it takes some time for everything to be cooked, but it’s nice if you have cool conversation partners 🙂
- rice, rice, rice… everyday rice with all sorts of side dishes that you can pick. I really like to be able to choose more than one sort of vegetable dish. The only thing that bothers me is that it is hard not to eat meat here, because there are always some small chopped pieces of it in almost every dish. Sometimes I am struggling with the chop sticks to fish out the veggie parts…
- dumplings (jiaozi) and steamed bread (baozi)… for my breakfast I usually have baozi. It’s made from wheat, so it is sort of bread, that is not baked but steam cooked. They have a filling inside, which can be salty or sweet. As a sweetie I like the sweet version, that is made of sweet bean and sugar.
- dragon fruits…. once you are in China, you start to doubt that dragons are just mythological beings, maybe they really existed… Never mind, the pink version is dragon fruit, that looks like white kiwi from the inside. The taste is hard to describe, but it is not super sweet. The one next to it is dragon eye fruit, that looks like an eye once you peel it and with this one you will get sugar high 🙂 . Chinese people eat fruit as a dessert, which is a healthier alternative to chocolate, so Westies can learn something from the Easties on this point.
- pizza… the Chinese way of it… wheat dough with a filling in the middle that is then glued like a chewing gum to the inside of a fire oven 🙂 . The taste has not much to do with the pizza that I know, perhaps because of the filling.
- Asian style sweets… no these are not soaps in a Lush store, these are sweets that are made of sweet beans and sugar. One good thing about the goodies here is that you can taste them for free. After dinner I went many times to West street on my snacking walk, going from one shop to another and having my dessert there.
- Western goodies… if you are staying in a foreign country for a longer time, then you just get this moment, when you start craving some home sweet home goodies. Since Yangshuo is a tourist town, there are also places where you can get chocolate cakes and Western style sweeties like in Bite me. Beside this place there is Lou’s bakery, where you can go for snacks after dinner, if you don’t feel full yet. Don’t expect to find a crunchy bread here, it looks more like a sponge when you squeeze it, it slowly returns to its previous shape without a sound… well, you can not get everything here…