This is a guest post by Ben and Carly of Round the World Traveler.
We found eating out in Beijing, China, slightly hit and miss due to the language barrier and, shall we say, the interesting menus.
Walking down a street just reading the incredible items on the menus (along with some whacky translations) proved to be highly entertaining…
…the strangest being a dish of ‘bacteria’. Nice!
The food markets also threw up (excuse the turn of phrase…) some interesting offerings.
But one we were looking out for was Peking Duck, one of the national dishes of China and of course a speciality in Beijing.
We were recommended a restaurant nearby the Jade Youth Hostel called Sijiminfu where it’s the house speciality.
There was one English-speaking waitress at Sijiminfu – the others avoided us like the plague! We ordered a whole duck for around $20, a couple of beers and settled down for the ceremony.
Firstly, we received a basket full of the thin pancakes, some buns, salad, hoisin sauce, and a tray full of chopped up various bits and bobs.
We eyed them trying to work out what they are.
Unfortunately, we still don’t know what half the things were, beyond cucumber, spring onion, sugar, garlic and hoisin sauce. Any ideas?
After a short wait the chef came trotting over with a silver platter and proudly presented the golden duck (above). We smiled and nodded enthusiastically and he turned around and walked off again.
We watched as he carefully carved the meat in a specific, ordered fashion, following a set routine of cuts and slices.
The duck was served one plate at a time – to start with just the crispy skin, traditionally the best bit. We were advised to dip the skin into the sugar and garlic and let them melt in your mouth.
That didn’t last long.
Next was a plate of the best parts of the rich flesh. Our friendly waitress took the time to carefully show us how to pile everything in, delicately fold the pancake and then eat. Wow.
We took to this part pretty easily, experimenting with the various ingredients for the ideal combination.
And next…were the other cuts of the duck, legs etc. By this time we were starting to be fully ducked out…
The buns added an extra dimension but the star of the show was the oily meat, and the balance you create between the sweet sticky hoisin sauce, the sharp spring onion, the crunch of cucumber and…well the other bits.
It was certainly the best meal we had in Beijing by far and although was our most expensive meal for 6 months was worth every penny.
About the Authors
Ben and Carly run the website Round The World Traveler which recounts their 10 month round the world trip, from a broken toe in Laos, to motor biking through paddy fields in Vietnam; from trekking the Great Wall of China to the beaches of Cambodia.