Thursday, February 19, 2009

All kinds of Dumplings in Beijing

After the heavy lunch near the Great Wall of China, we were still feeling full come dinner time. Fortunately, our hostess suggested a rather light dinner option, which was also a specialty in Beijing. We were headed to a restaurant to eat dumplings and only dumplings! Dumplings (sui kau in Cantonese) are very traditional and they're compulsory to be served on the first day of Chinese New Year in Beijing families. In fact, when I was watching the television in Beijing, I noticed that there were many advertisements on frozen ready-made dumplings where you could just steam them before eating. And those advertisements were focusing on the Chinese New Year celebration which was, at that time, around 3 weeks away. Anyway, we were brought to this restaurant in Beijing, yet another name that I could not comprehend.

Dumplings restaurant

My host, Mr Liew ordered this drink with a cute name. I heard him ordering 'Lulu' to the waitress, and I was curious to know what it was. It turned out to be a canned drink of almond milk. What a funny name! So if you want to order almond milk when you're in Beijing next time, just holler 'Lulu'!

Lulu almond milk drink

My hostess Joanne never started a meal without at least one cold dish. This was the cold dish she ordered that night, which tasted like jellyfish. As usual, I never had much preference for cold dishes, more so during the winter!

Cold dish

After placing our orders of different types of dumplings, I walked around and saw the group of chefs busy preparing the dumplings in the kitchen. They looked so engross and intense that they had no idea I was observing them.

Busy chefs

For the sake of those who could actually read Chinese, here is a snapshot of the menu board on display. I bet those last two Chinese words in each sentence was 'sui kau', but that's all. Oh, of course I could already read the price of 22 yuan. :P

Menu board

Finally, our orders arrived, all wrapped up nicely. From the looks of it, they were all the same and very dull, due to the same white colour. The difference was all in the fillings. This plate came with vegetables as the fillings. Very healthy and delicious too! Each piece was wrapped meticulously and with every bite, delicious gravy oozed out into your mouth.

Vege dumplings

Here is another picture of dumplings, with fillings of pork meat. This was very similar to eating 'siew long pau', except that the size here was much larger. The meat was marinated so the juice that oozed out was very tasty. I could eat a whole plate of this if only my stomach were bigger. :P

Meat dumplings

The secret to eating the dumplings is to eat them when they're piping hot, but I'm sure you all know that. When they get cold, the skin hardens and the fillings become cold, rendering the whole dumpling almost inedible.

Meat and vege fillings

Surprisingly, eating dumplings was not really considered 'light'. Each piece was either fully filled with meat or packed with vegetables. Couple that with the flour on each dumpling, you pretty much get full after maybe 5 or 6 pieces. Look at the remnants of our food that night! The 5 of us could not finish 3 plates of dumplings! We ended up packing them to bring home.

All types of dumplings

Once we reached home, Liew went out on his own saying that he wanted to buy something for us to try. Upon arrival, he came bearing this paper bag with the picture of an old man holding sticks of candy. He bought us 'bing tang hu lu'! It was the traditional candy that most period Chinese series would show.

Brown package

I had always seen them in the Chinese series and imagined these candies to be sweet. However, after the first bite, I knew I was greatly mistaken. These candies were made from shanzha (山楂子), also known as Chinese hawthorn or Chinese haw. They're sour, with a coat of hardened sugar on the exterior. I personally did not really like them because I never liked sour food.


Anyway, it was certainly an experience to remember. Now I would know how the candies actually taste like when I see them again in Chinese series! :) I'd gladly say "No thanks".

Bing tang hu lu


cfh said...

it's "bing tang hu lu", not "ping tang hu lao" lar...

iamthewitch said...

ooppss sorry lor :P Edited that.

zewt said...

really encourages me to make get my beijing trip planning up...

foongpc said...

Lulu? haha! That's funny!

The dumplings look very delicious, especially the way you describe them!

Those bing tang hu lu does not look too appetizing to me, but it's worth a try just to taste it. I will do the same if I go there! : )

J2Kfm said...

i ate that "Ping Tong Wu Lou" a few times, I rmbr. they even have those with oranges, and cherries or grapes. *_*

but the Shanzha, esp the dried fruits itself, is rather tasty.

did u try the funny,exotic stuff at Wang Fu Jing food street?

khengsiong said...

Funny. You said you couldn't read Chinese, but you have typed 山楂子 here...

In Northern China, the word 'fan' 饭 does not just refer to rice. It can also mean noodle, mantou and yes, dumplings. After that, wheat, rather than rice, is planted there.

Looking at you photo, one plate of dumplings cost between 22 and 30 yuan. Back then when I was in Shandong, the restaurants sold dumplings by weight (斤/jin/kati). I was confused, didn't know how much to order, LOL...

ck lam said...

Had tried the "Ping Tong Wu Lou" during my visit years ago. I too did not accept the taste.

chiaoju said...

ahh... dumplings. :) instead of having rice, i sometimes have a bowl of dumpling (maybe 10) for lunch/dinner. love it.

Anonymous said...

is it read as 龙华春大连海 or vice-versa as 海连大春华龙(chinese read from right to left)?
is 22yuan = 1 piece of suikao?
damn expensive leh.

myloonatic said...

why u eat along the bing tong wu lou wrappers? izit same like the white rabbit sweets wrappers? :)

iamthewitch said...

zewt: You're going to Beijing? :) Yes you should start planning! Don't miss out on these dumplings! :))

foongpc: Yea, the dumplings are good. The bing tang hulu is probably an acquired taste. ;)

J2Kfm: What? There are so many other flavours of bing tang hulu available? I have not seen them before! Erm, I'm not sure what street you're talking about, as you know, I can't read Chinese! :((

khengsiong: Haha, may I just say those Chinese words were copied from wikipedia! Of course I can't type them out myself! :P Oh thanks for the enlightenment regarding the word 'fan' in Chinese. :) Now I need to be careful when those Chinese people mention rice, to make sure we're on the same page! :)

cklam: Me too! I think it's probably an acquired taste...

chiaoju: Yum yum! They're delicious, aren't they! :)

Anonymous: You have totally asked the wrong person about this. :P I can't even read the words, so I really can't help you with that. :( Oh the price is for a plate, not a piece. :)

myloonatic: Haha yes, those wrappers are like white rabbit sweets wrappers. It's edible and melts in your mouth. :)