Coming back to North America, I was thankful for the piles of pizza, fries and most importantly our familiar Chinese food. Before travelling abroad, I thought that Lo Mein, chicken balls and Kung Pow Chicken were all traditional Chinese foods (call me inexperienced!). This is why my first night in China had me slightly in tears at the unfamiliar array of “strange” Asian cuisine….
….but here’s a little breakdown of some of the tasty (and perhaps strange) items stumbled upon that you should definitely try!
Breakfast tended to consist of sweet cakes elaborately decorated and shaped into little wedges. Warning, the some of the flavours available seemed to be like the ones in North America, but the “vanilla” cake below turned out to be milk flavour! The Chinese seem to not use too many Western flavours in their sweets, frequently using green tea flavour or fruit flavours with poppy seeds. No wonder the cakes were all bite sized!
Bread seemed to also be popular for a breakfast choice. We tried everything from deep fried bread twists covered in sugar (delicious!), bread buns with honey, croissants with drizzled chocolate and hot dog/sausage buns depicted below. All were very delicious and we often saw many Chinese stalking up on these lovely delights at the local bakery! (Tip: Check out Holiland bakery if you’re in Beijing!!)
There seemed to be 3 dumplings (or dumpling like) foods circulating around China…
1. These doughy dumplings generally came out at breakfast time (5 am-)! They offered a few choices, mostly “meat” or “vegetable” (pork? and beans?) and they all seemed to be super delicious. They appeared to be lightly fried and were delicious and savoury, almost like a thick chicken ball from back home! Ah memories!
2. Gyoza (Japanese) like dumplings.These babies seemed to be similar to the Japanese gyoza dumplings which can be sampled at any Japanese restaurant in Toronto. They are decidedly thinner, but offer a larger portion of meat/veg than the above since three quarters of the dumpling were made up of filling rather than outside!
3. “Funnel/volcano” shaped dumplings: These were our least favourite since they seemed to be put together in a hurry or something 😛 The restaurant could have been to blame but they seemed to be in the middle of too much filling/too much shell. There seemed to be a lot of extra room in there! Although not the best, give them a try just in case.
Normally, evening meals consisted of some sort of fried dish (chicken, fish, pork) and a bowl of rice. Apparently it is custom to use the bowl of rice as a plate quencher since the food in Asia can be very spicy, and when they say spicy they mean it. Arriving in China meant spending a few days with “Dehli belly” sadly! ;( And apparently the further south you went the HOTTER things got, so be wary if locals tell you to stay away from the spicy dish.
Asians also seemed to be fond of these mixed bean/veg dishes which featured tossed vegetables in a [tangy] sauce and long red (hot) peppers diced into too big sections.
Shanghai, unlike other areas of China have a larger selection of Western and other foreign foods, including this Japanese dish with a bowl of rice sprinkled with seaweed and a fried chicken cutlet. These types of meals were irregular for China (to us) but we enjoyed the variety present in Shanghai all the same. Budget friendly foods are also more available in a larger variety in Shanghai.