IN PHOTOS: Beijing food trip
Recently, I made a quick trip to Beijing, the capital of the People’s Republic of China. It is one of the most populous cities in the world, whose population of more than 20 million people is almost double the population of Metro Manila.
It was my first trip to China. Despite the fact that Beijing is one of the more polluted cities in the world, I had great time touring the historical sites. On top of the list was the Great Wall of China. There are 3 well-known mountain passes and we made it to the one located in the Changping District. The so-called Cloud Platform was built in 1342 in the 18-kilometer long Guangou Valley.
The Tiananmen Square, the fourth largest city square in the world (in comparison, it is 12 times larger than the Red Square in Moscow), was also on the bucket list. Although it is open to the public, it remains under heavy security. Before entry, visitors and their belongings are searched, a common practice at many Chinese tourist sites.
There are several other places of interest in Beijing: Temple of Heaven, National Stadium, Natural History Museum, The Ming Tombs, Lama Temple, National Center for Performing Arts, Summer Palace, Bell and Drum Towers, and Beijing Zoo.
But what made the trip more memorable was our sojourn to various restaurants which serve amazing food. It has been said that Chinese cuisine includes styles originating from the diverse regions of China, as well as from Chinese people in other parts of the world.
The trip from the Philippines to Beijing is about almost five hours. Since we left Manila at 7:15 in the morning, it was already 1 in the afternoon when we arrived in China’s capital. We were already hungry and so we rushed to Huajia Yiyuan Restaurant, located at Dongcheng District.
This restaurant has got it all — location, architecture, character, great food, and good service. The complex has the charm of an ancient court: yard permeates the dining area. The Hua Family Cuisine, which the family head had created, continues the long-standing and well-established culinary tradition.
All in all, we tasted fifteen dishes: egg yolk with beef rolls, duck rolls with diced mushrooms, Gongbao style dice chicken, sauteed eggplant with abalone sauce, stewed tofu in the bucket, Hua style stir-fried noodles, Hua style rolls pie, dry-fried French beans with minced pork, vegetable soup with sliced pork and mushrooms, deep-fried sweet and sour pineapple, sauteed meatballs, bean sprout and spinach in egg roll, fried sweet and sour tenderloin, pan-fried chicken breast.
Those were for lunch. For our dinner, we went to Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant in the southwest of Dongsi Shitiao Bridge at Nanxincang. The nightly queues outside this 4,500-square-meter restaurant are all about the duck, but there’s more to the menu the Beijing’s signature.
The CNN-featured restaurant offers numerous other dishes, most of them very tasty. Consider the following: cherry foie gras, sweet pork ribs, bamboo shoots, yellow croaker in aspic, bean curd, traditional Beijing snack, lobster soup leopard grouper, fried prawn with spicy sauce, fried scallops with Yunnan mushroom sauce, sauteed duck and chestnuts in crispy nest, sauteed spring bamboo shoots with shepherd’s purse, Da Dong “super lean” roast duck, yogurt pudding.
What really caught the attention of everyone was the lake shrimp in spring tea. “Do we need to drink the tea?” we asked the waiter. He wondered, looked at us, and said: “No, just eat the shrimp.”
On our second day, we had our lunch at Tangrenfu Restaurant. We don’t know much about this restaurant which is located at Changping, Zhengfu Street. But here, we tried twelve new dishes.
Consider these: baked chicken, poached fish, braised pork, stewed three delicacies and tofu, sauteed beef fillet (country style), braised eggplant with soy sauce, braised pork ribs and mushrooms, sauteed osmanthus fragans and conpoy, sauteed squid and celery, stir-fried rape, and duck soup. We ate these together with rice.
For our dinner, we went to Capital M at the Qianmen Avenue. This is Australian restaurateur Michelle Garnaut’s Beijing flagship; it is, every inch, equal to her Shanghai star, M on the Bund. Embossed tableware, imported Nepalese rugs, VIP service and snazzy open fireplaces bring it all together in glamorous harmony.
Since we were still full with our lunch, we ordered only an Elizabethan salad (soft leaves and fresh herbs layered with oranges and almonds, rockets, sippets and fartes)
and steak Diane (beef fillet in a brandies mustard sauce). We also had its very famous Pavlova.
On our third day, we had lunch at Din Tai Fung, which had been ranked as one of the world’s top 10 restaurants by The New York Times in 1993. In a poll conducted by the US website the Daily Meal in 2013, it was named Top Restaurant of 101 Best Asian Restaurants.
The signature dish at this celebrated and best known Taiwanese restaurant chain is its surgically precise xiao long bao, juicy soup dumplings wrapped expertly by hand and cooked in bamboo steamers.
Here's a slightly different dumpling:
Aside from those, we also ordered tossed bean curd with seaweed and bean sprouts, braised duck with homemade sauce, hot and sour soup, fried green peas with fresh shrimps, and fried rice with shrimps and eggs. We capped it with combination snow ice.
Yes, we had grand time touring around Beijing. Not only that, we also had the pleasure of eating what the city has to offer – in terms of Chinese cuisine. – Rappler.com
All photos by Henrylito D. Tacio
Henrylito D. Tacio is an award-winning journalist based in the southern part of the Philippines. He specializes on reporting science, environment, medicine, agriculture, and travel features