Sunday, February 1, 2009

Beijing Zar Jiang Noodles

After walking for almost 6 hours in the windy and freezing cold weather, we ended up having our late lunch at this place called Old Beijing Zar Jiang Noodles King, in the city centre. As the name has it, it is a famous restaurant selling Zar Jiang noodles, which is a Beijing specialty dish.

Old Beijing Zar Jiang noodles restaurant

We reached there at about 3pm so the place was rather empty. I was impressed with the interior design of the restaurant though, with the olden desks and benches, certainly made me feel like living in the olden days.

Interior of restaurant

One other famous and unique Beijing food is the fermented mung bean juice, called 'dou zhi' in Mandarin. From the name, you could tell that it is sour! It was indeed sour and had a milky texture. Definitely an acquired taste. I didn't like it at all, so did my mom. Only our host Liew enjoyed sipping it away and he ended up finishing the whole bowl. It was served together alongside a crunchy donut-like cookie for dipping.

Dou zhi - Fermented mung bean juice

Our first dish was the sizzling beef on hot plate. It was perfectly done! The beef was so tender and juicy, I could tell they were well-marinated before hand. Couple that with the fact that we were freezing, this sizzling hot dish was just the right antidote for all of us.

Sizzling beef

As I mentioned in my earlier posts, it is a norm for Beijing people to order cold dishes in addition to hot ones. Most cold dishes are either sour or sweet, so I did not quite enjoy them. One of the cold dishes ordered was the famous shanzha (山楂子), also known as Chinese hawthorn or Chinese haw.

Shanzha - Chinese hawthorn pickles

If you want to have an idea how it tasted, shanzha is actually used to make these candies /flakes in the following picture. Does it ring any bell? It used to be a popular snack when I was a young kid.

Haw flakes

Next up was a local dish as well, made from green pepper and eggplant. I have to say, I really enjoyed this dish even though it was a tad too oily. It was very fragrant and went very well with rice. The eggplant used here was very different from the ones we usually have in Malaysia. Apparently they were round in shape!

Eggplant with green pepper

Another cold dish came in between, which was actually a type of cold corn cake. In fact, this was one of the few cold dishes that I liked, maybe because it was sweet! It was like dessert to me. :) I was actually thinking of only eating this cake after I finished my lunch, but Liew kept asking me why I did not eat it and whether there was something wrong with the dish. I suppose the custom was really different because the locals usually eat everything on the table at the same time, cold and hot dishes alike.

Corn cake

There was also steamed beancurd which was unbelievably smooth.

Steamed beancurd

Last but not least, it was the star of the day, the Zar Jiang noodles! Zar Jiang noodles is a northern Chinese dish consisting of thick wheat noodles and shredded vegetables (such as bean sprouts, cucumbers, Chinese yam, etc) topped with a mixture of ground pork stir-fried with fermented soybean paste. This was how it looked like before mixing with the paste.

Dry Zar Jiang noodles

This was how the paste looked like, gross, I know!

Zar Jiang paste

And finally, after mixing everything up, the noodles were a delight! Seriously never let the look deceive you because the taste was surprisingly good! Definitely way better than the Zar Jiang noodles that are sold in the restaurants here. If I had a chance, I would go back to this Old Beijing restaurant again.

Zar Jiang noodles

I can't believe how much we ate in Beijing. Not long after this filling lunch, we went for our dinner in a hot pot place. Will write about it next!


JustinKC said...

man! That's yummy! Ill be departing to Beijing this coming Friday. Hope i can have some exotic food when im there hehe

vkeong said...

Haha, I would do the same too.. leaving desserts as last.

iamthewitch said...

JustinKC: Really? Have a great trip! Looking forward to your posts on the exotic food. :)

vkeong: Yea, it's our culture... hehehe..

khengsiong said...

I once ordered Zar Jiang noodle in Shandong, but it wasn't what I expected. It looks like there are different Zar Jiang noodle in different parts of China.

Actually, Hokkien mee in Penang and KL are also different...

iamthewitch said...

Yea, China is so HUGE. I won't be surprised that the food is different at different parts too. :) Yea, Hokkien mee is SO different in KL. LOL

J2Kfm said...

i'll take ur word for it, that the Zar Jiang noodles is delicious.
here's different, with different ingredients, and noodles even.
corn cakes with rice?!!! *_*

iamthewitch said...

Yes, take my word for now. At least, until you try it out for yourself. :P Yea, weird about the corn cakes huh?