Sunday, February 15, 2009

Where did I lunch?

After the exhausting climb down the Great Wall of China, it was time for lunch! We actually spent a total of 3 hours just walking on the Great Wall itself in the freaking cold weather. Needless to say, our stomachs were growling by the time we descended. We were driven to a place about half an hour away (or more) for lunch, and I shamefully admit that I fell asleep in the car. It was a long time I didn't hike! *shifty eyes*

Anyway, the title of this post is as such because I can't read the Chinese words of this restaurant's signboard. Anyone care to translate it to me? It's so embarrassing. I can only read the word 'mian' in the middle, which means noodles right?

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Restaurant signboard

Anyway, it was past 2pm when we reached, and the restaurant was rather empty. We were even given a private room to dine in.

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Table setting

As usual, our hostess Joanne did the ordering, and she never missed out on cold dishes. The first dish that arrived was this cold dish which looked like a plate of noodles, but in fact, they're a type of vegetables. I kind of enjoyed this dish, surprisingly. The 'noodles' were springy and slightly crunchy, very similar to the feeling of eating black fungus.

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Cold dish that looked like noodles


Then there's the black fungus, just boiled without any condiments. It's also cooled to below room temperature, becoming one of the list of cold dishes available.

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Black fungus

Finally, the hot dishes arrived. Yay! This was the hot-plate beef, which tasted amazing. It's the most delicious dish of all in this restaurant. The beef slices were cooked to perfection, not gamey and very tender. It went perfectly with the bowl of steaming hot rice.

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Hot-plate beef

Look at the rice! It's my favourite rice so far. Fat and short, and a little sticky, not unlike glutinous rice, and very similar to Japanese rice. I don't normally fancy white rice in Malaysia but in Beijing, I could eat up one whole bowl of rice and wouldn't feel guilty about it! :P


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Steaming bowl of rice

Almost every meal in Beijing was accompanied by a dish of fish. This was the fish fillet cooked in a broth which was sourish and slightly spicy. It was very appetizing just drinking the broth. The fish was extremely fresh too! The fillets were flaky and smooth. If only it had less bones. It's the nature of the fish to have plenty of bones because all their fishes came from freshwater.

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Sour and spicy fish fillet


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Very fresh fish fillet

One of the highly recommended dishes from Joanne was this plate of fried flat noodles. It was apparently homemade from people living in the mountain area (where the restaurant was located), and it's not widely available in other parts of Beijing. The noodles were made into a flat piece of dough and carefully rolled up into hollow cylinders, which were rather cute. The taste was very similar to pan-mee, just slightly thicker. My gripe would be that it's a tad oily. But what can I say? This dish was called as 'chao yau min' in Cantonese, or fried oily noodles literally.

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Fried flat noodles


We also ordered a plate of stir-fried vegetables including green capsicum and eggplants. This dish was just so-so and rather oily. Why would they use so much oil in their food? Maybe oil is cheap over there...

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Oily vegetables


There was also the common dish of omelette, which was not very different from the ones we could get in Malaysia.

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Omelette


The lunch was very filling, due to the vast amount of carbohydrate I took (rice and noodles). Thankfully it was during the winter, so I consoled myself that the fat would be quickly burned off. Who am I kidding?

Anyway, after the heavy meal, Joanne brought us to a local shopping mall to shop for souvenirs. It's called the Hong Qiao Pearl Market, which was a huge building housing all sorts of items from electronic gadgets, clothes to branded handbags. All fake brands, of course. My mother managed to buy 1 Rolex and 1 Omega watch here for a total of RM125. *LOL* But not without haggling of course!

It was funny how the people in Beijing negotiate with the customers. First, they would be very polite and smile sweetly at us. Then, when we showed the SLIGHTEST interest in the products, they would start to talk to us and say that their products were of very good quality, etc etc. So as a customer, we'd ask for the price. They'd quote a price, which would be way too expensive, and we cut the price by at least 70%. They would then show us a very shocked face and say that it was impossible to sell at such a cheap price. They would suffer a loss! Then, they'd give us a price which was probably 5o% of the initial quote and we'd still be stubborn and say no. Then, they would keep saying it's not possible to give us that price and almost begged for us to take it. In the last resort, we would just leave the stall, saying it's OK. Then, the salesgirl would change from their sweet faces to a frustrated/angry one, saying "FINE, I'll give you!". And I mean they're really not happy! It's either they really suffered a loss from the sale (which I highly doubt so) or they're just very good actors. *LOL* Bottom line is that, never settle for more than what you would pay for. You would almost 99% of the time get the price that you want. :) But the haggling process was really fun! We managed to haggle for a piece of 100% cashmere scarf to only RM10! That's freaking cheap!!! Remember, in this market, customers are always right. *LOL*

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Hong Qiao Pearl Market

6 comments:

chiaoju said...

they use so much oil, coz apparently, to them, it makes the food much tastier. 2nd to that, it keeps them warm. i've got a colleague who was relocated to Malaysia for 2 years and she complained about our food being not oily enough and that the portions are just wayyyy too small.

i love those rice. :) and yes, it's like those japanese rice. at home, i have my mum cook those rice! i don't eat those thai fragrant rice. hehehe

Anonymous said...

鼎品斋莜面家常菜 is called Ding Pin Zhai You Mian Jia Chang Cai in mandarin, which means 鼎品(shop name) selling the famous 斋莜面(vegetarian you mian) and 家常菜(normal dishes that usually served in house).
hope this might enlighten ur blog readers :)

khengsiong said...

From what I read, among the four major branches of Chinese food, the Southern cuisine is least oily. I also cannot stand the oily fried rice of Eastern China.

Apparently the Hong Qiao Pearl Market is targeted at foreigners. I don't even see a Chinese character in your photo!

BTW, referring to the comment by Anon above...
鼎品 is the shop name, but it also means 'top quality'.

foongpc said...

Just want to ask - since you are not good in Mandarin, will you have problem if you go there alone with no guide?

That first dish is not noodles? They sure looks like one!

I also like those kind of sticky rice. Can eat more than a bowl! LOL!

Thanks for demonstrating how to bargain in China. This will come in very handy when I visit next time! I think they are just acting and not really angry. Anyway, even they are, so what? like you said, customers are always right! : )

vkeong said...

The oily vegetables do look very OILY. @_@

iamthewitch said...

chiaoju: Oh dear... It must be so unhealthy to consume so much oil! And fattening! Haha the rice is certainly wonderful! But cannot eat too much of those, they're loaded with carbs!

Anonymous: Thank you so much for the mini Chinese lesson. :) At least now I can tell my friends where I had the noodles :)

khengsiong: Yea, now that you brought it up, maybe it really targets on foreigners. But they really do have good deals! Especially if you look like locals. :)

foongpc: Well, actually I do speak a little mandarin, I just can't read. I think it's quite problematic if you can't read Chinese and you have no tour guide. You'll be at lost on the roads (meaning you won't be able to tell if the taxi driver is cheating by making big rounds). Plus most names in English do not sound the same as the Chinese words, so the locals wouldn't be able to know what you're talking about if you mention English version of the names. Oh PLUS, most menus in restaurants are all in Chinese! Good luck with that!

vkeong: Oh they certainly were oily. *sigh*