Saturday, 30 June 2012

Lunch - Beijing (Great Wall of China)

On the last day, the sky cleared up and the weather was perfect for our climb up the Great Wall of China!
It was about 32 degrees Celsius when we tackled the wall (but with the humidex it felt much hotter).
The scary part wasn't going up the Great Wall at Juyongguan:

It was looking down and going down the steps.
The stairs were steep and uneven. Near the top of the mountain, they didn't even have guard rails for visitors to hold on to when descending down the stairs.

After surviving the climb down from the Great Wall, we were taken to a nearby restaurant:
Clockwise from the top: Sweet and Sour Fish, Celery, Fried Chicken Fingers, Mixed Vegetables and Stir-fry Pork
The only dishes I liked were the Fried Chicken Fingers (even if they did taste a bit garlicky) and the mixed vegetables. The rest of the dishes weren't very good.

Wintermelon soup
Very bland and tasteless, which was surprising since wintermelon is usually very sweet. 

Overall: Not a very good meal to end our China trip with, but it was served very fast to give us enough time to explore the Cloisonne factory downstairs.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Dinner - Beijing

After the big Peking Duck lunch, we walked off our meal at Tiananmen Square:
It's the third largest public square in the World and behind the Tiananmen gate lies the Forbidden City. 
The Forbidden City was designed to be the fortified home of the Emperor and his family with 9,999 rooms. Then outside the Forbidden City would be the Imperial City and the Inner and Outer Courts. 
The Hall of Supreme Harmony
The grounds are so large: I couldn't help but think that it must have been torturous for all the women with their bound feet to walk to the palace.

Afterwards, we went to the Olympic Green to see the Birds' Nest and Water Cube.

For dinner, we got to eat dumplings:

Spicy pork, peppers and onions
Why is it that all the spicy dishes in Beijing taste so good? Sadly for me, I can't eat too much of the dishes or else my mouth feels like it's on fire... I'm so limited.

Egg and choy
Slightly bland dish

Sweet and sour pork
The sweet and sour sauce was different: it was about 90% sweet and not sour at all. 

Apparently we were given a mix of all their different dumplings; unfortunately, I only tasted the pork and leek dumpling and I didn't recognize the rest.

Overall: We thought we were only going to be eating dumplings, but turns out we got bowls of rices and main dishes along with the dumplings. Quite a lot of food and it wasn't that great. 

Quanjude Restaurant - Beijing

Beijing is rich in history and culture due to the fact that it has been the political center of China for centuries.
Some of the most well-known Chinese buildings can be found in Beijing including Forbidden City, Tiananmen square, Birds' Nest (National Stadium), Water Cube (National Aquatics Center) and more. 
The Summer Palace 
The famous Long Corridor (長廊): 728m long covered walkway filled with hand painted artwork


If you think this rock looks familiar, that's because it is familiar - it's a Taihu limestone boulder.
That's a journey of over 1,100 km from Wuxi (or Taihu) to Beijing.
How did they move it to Beijing? They waited until winter and iced the path to slide the rock to Beijing. 
A few years later, the original official who acquired the rock fell into financial ruin (most likely because of the cost of moving this rock) and he abandoned it on the side of the road. It was forgotten until the Emperor Qianlong of the Qin dynasty saw the rock and ordered it moved into his garden at the Summer Palace. He named the rock "Blue Iris Stone".

The amazing artwork on a Pavillion

Entrance/Exit (Depends how you see it) :D

On to Lunch, we were taken to a famous Peking Duck restaurant for lunch:

Side dishes: Bamboo shoots and Duck with cold jelly
The Duck with cold jelly was fantastic - I wish we could have ordered another dish of it.

Chinese Mustard Greens or Gai Choy
Simple and a little oily

Above: Stir fry Pork in Black Pepper Sauce and Diced Duck with vegetables
The pork was a little spicy from the black pepper sauce, but it was still well done. 
The duck was good, even if it was a little on the tough side.

Plate of duck for Peking Duck

All the Ingredients for Peking Duck: sweet bean sauce, scallions and cucumbers.
The Waitress even demonstrated how to wrap the Peking Duck. 
It was great to eat authentic Peking Duck in the city that started it all. 
It is quite different from North American Peking Duck (because Cantonese people altered it to suit their tastes with Hoisin sauce and thicker cuts of meat and crispy skin). 
This duck had a slight fruity aroma and the sweet bean sauce provided a great compliment to the duck (hoisin sauce can sometimes overpower the flavour of the duck itself).  The pancakes were abundant and I liked that they didn't detract from the flavour combination of the duck and the condiments.

Cucumber soup
After the strong and savoury taste of all the dishes, the cucumber soup was simple and refreshing.

Overall: The food was good here and I had a great experience eating the Peking Duck. 

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Jade Palace Hotel Breakfast - Beijing

The breakfast buffet area was on the second floor of the hotel and it overlooked the tea area:

Big hearty meal
1) Noodle soup at the top - the Beijing hotel's noodle soup had the worst noodle soup out of all the places we traveled (and by the end of the trip, I learned not to be a picky eater). This one was bland and the noodles were thick and doughy.
2) "Panish Pastries" otherwise known as peach danish pastries - it was okay probably one of the more edible items at this breafkast buffet
3) The fried rice was okay, if a little salty
4) Bao - I don't recommend this...
5) Fried noodles were so salty, I could barely taste what they would have been like without the soy sauce.
6) Omelette - I think this omelette almost gave me a heart attack: the chef poured in the oil until it was about 3 cm deep and then he started mixing the egg for my omelette. Why do Northerners in China make their food so oily?

I thought this was interesting: Non-Muslim Food
Apparently 1-2% of the total population in China are Muslims (according to the CIA Factbook)

Croissant and Swiss Roll
The croissant looked prettier than it tasted. The swiss roll was nice.

Bailan Melon and Watermelon
Bailan melon is DELICIOUS! The peel is yellow in colour and the flesh is a light green colour. It's not too sweet and has a crunchy texture similar to a honeydew but the flavour is more mellow. Yum!
It's grown near Lanzhou in the Gansu province of China. 

Overall: The breakfast here was passable; the best part was the Bailan melon! I could eat the Bailan melon everyday and not get sick of it. Yum.

Helinxuan Chinese Restaurant - Beijing

After lunch, we took the subway to the Temple of Heaven. 
Side note: The Beijing subway system is the cheapest in China and it's super convenient with 15 lines! A one way continuous ticket to anywhere in Beijing is ¥2
Temple of Heaven

Helinxuan Chinese Restaurant at the Jade Palace Hotel

Salty dried fish and Edamame appetizers

Spicy duck and tofu
This dish was really good - it made me wish I could take spicy food so I could full enjoy it. 
Alas, the spiciness got to me after my third piece of tofu. The duck was nicely done too.

Asparagus and fatty pork
Another slightly spicy dish: it had great flavour until the spiciness overwhelmed me.

Garlic Ribs
I wonder if the garlic ribs are a specialty in Beijing or maybe a specialty of this restaurant because they were really tasty. Crispy skin on the outside and lots of tender meat when you bit into the rib. It was so beautifully presented on the plate too. 

Fish soup
The soup was full of flavour from the fish, mushrooms and jelly-like fungus.
The downside: the fish had very tiny bones and I managed to get one caught in my throat...ouch.

Overall: A perfect dinner to kick off our tour of Beijing - delicious and hearty food (even if it was slightly on the spicier side). 


Food Court of Chaofugong - Beijing

After getting up at 4:30 am in Shanghai to catch a 7 am flight to Beijing, we were driven to our hotel to catch up on some sleep. The ride was supposed to take 1/2 hour, but because it was rainy --> traffic sucked and it ended up taking us two hours to get to our hotel. We checked in and decided to explore our lunch options in the hotel:
Food Court of Chaofugong

Very nice cutlery

The view of the restaurant

Fried pork and leek dumplings

There was a lot of leek inside - so much so that I thought we ordered vegetarian dumplings instead of pork and leek. The skin was nicely fried and crunchy at the tips, but the filling wasn't that great.

Steamed dumplings

The inside of the dumpling: white radish, peas, mushrooms and carrots
The dumplings tasted bland even with all these ingredients inside.

Fried noodles with chicken and squid
There was lots of squid and it was oily and bland.

Chinese broccoli (kai-lan) with a spicy sauce and hoisin sauce
This is a relatively simple and classic dish - they boiled the kai-lan until the stems were tender and used the sauces to add flavour to the kai-lan

Overall: Probably not the best way to start our trip in Beijing, but we were limited in our lunch options since the hotel was quite a distance away from the center of the city.