Monday, August 17, 2009

Feasting on Street Food

August 16, 2009

I am having a serious love affair with street food in China. It all started with my breakfast dim sum; now Geoff and I search out street food whenever we can. While we were in Chengde, we discovered jianbing. It starts out as a paper thin crepe on a big griddle. When it's half cooked, it's flipped over and two eggs are spread over the crepe. It's flipped one more time to cook the egg. Will the egg is cooking the crepe is brushed with a mildly spicy dark sauce, seasoned, and sprinkled with coriander and scallions. Then a big rice crisp is placed on top. The whole thing is folded over into a nifty eat-and-carry size. Great flavor in every bite!

 In Xi'an we are treated to street after street of stalls in the Muslim Quarter. Fantastic! An experience to encompass all the senses.  Vendors overflow from their shops onto the sidewalks. Everywhere there is food.  Sometimes there are wafts of bread frying to a crisp. Then it's the spicy, meaty smell of barbequing kabobs or some yummy smell I can't quite place.  You can get all the food to go, but most vendors have a little whole-in-the-wall seating area.  Cooking is generally done on the sidewalk using coal or an open flame.  Geoff and I will spend an hour poking our heads into random restaurants deciding where we want to experiment. On the first night we settled on dish of hand-pulled noodles, beef and potatoes in a spicy broth. The meat was so tender and juicy; it couldn't have been better. The noodles were made by the shop owner's eldest son. He makes them as a sort of performance at the entrance of the restaurant. Geoff and I plowed in with our chops sticks and had it gone in 5 minutes. We spent another hour walking the streets trying this and that. Geoff spent $0.45 on "Chinese pizza": layers of paper thin fried flat bread filled with a seasoned cabbage mixture. Tonight we treated the whole Quarter  like an all you can eat buffet. We snacked on the best little beef kabobs, crisp fried flat bread stuffed with seasoned ground beef, mutton gyoza, a bun made out of bread that was like a big German pretzel, and some kid of desert on a stick with a name I don't know.  The whole night cost $4.25, and we were stuffed.  The only miss was a red fried patty, sweet rice paste maybe, with an indescribably bad filling.  That one went straight to the trash. At the end of the evening we found a vendor who sells jianbing. The first we've seen in Xi'an. You can bet that that will be our first stop in the morning.

- Cindy


  1. I am so jealous! I hear that the street food is the best food ever and everything is negotiable.

    Someday... someday *sigh

  2. hi there

    wow you seem to be enjoying the food and adventure, love you Dad