Category Archives: Beijing

The Everyday Farmer’s Market in Beijing

Shuang Yu Market
When I first moved back to the US, I remember “farmer’s markets” being all the craze. I would hear things like, “Oh, I got these beautiful fingerling potatoes at the farmer’s market today!” or , “I like knowing that my tomatoes are from a farm just a couple hours away from me.” It sounded a bit pretentious to me at the time, but then I realized that my family shops at a so-called “farmer’s market” in Beijing for all our groceries. It isn’t a novel concept, nor is it a new-age health or sustainability craze, it’s just the way a lot of people buy groceries in China.

Welcome to Shuang Yu Market, the local market by my home in Beijing.

Shuang Yu Market
Bags of man tou, or steamed buns, in the back of a van.

Shuang Yu Market
Locksmith and key duplication.

Shuang Yu Market
The fresh meat hall where  we get all of our pork. Freshly ground pork, ribs, spine for stew, etc. Continue reading

Manchurian Cuisine

东北人家
东北人家 (Dongbei/Manchurian People’s Home)
Restaurant Chain in China

Dearest NYC readers, this post is going to be somewhat irrelevant for your weekend restaurant search. This post is less of a review but an introduction to northern Chinese cuisine. Dongbei, previously Manchuria, is the most northeastern region of China. It shares a border with Russia, Mongolia, and Korea. The cuisine is rarely talked about in the US and I think that should change. Here in NYC you have your Cantonese, Shanghainese, Sichuan and maaaybe even Yunnan food. All are very different, by the way. Dongbei or Northern or Manchurian food is another major type of cuisine that is probably one of the least pretentious ones. Because the weather can get extremely cold in the region, the cuisine is very substantial, hearty and uses LOTS OF GARLIC. Northerners also eat a lot of delicious carby foods, aka. my kind of foods. Pictured above is the waiting area of the Dongbei restaurant we were at where you get free sunflower seeds and are encouraged to toss the shells on the ground. Love China.

东北人家    东北人家
Chinese cornbread. It’s denser, grainier, and less sweet than what we think of as “southern” cornbread in the US. My dad hates eating it because it was the only carb he had growing up during the Cultural Revolution in China. I, a first world child, grew up eating jasmine rice and so relish the meals where we have cornbread. This is a panfried version.

东北人家
Wo Wo Tou, or directly translated as “Nest heads” … go figure. This is a steamed version of the corn bread. Often sweeter, and chewier because of its shape.

东北人家
Crispy “Hand-Pulled” Pancake. It’s like a scallion pancake with more layers and no scallions. Greasy, crispy on the outside, and chewy on the inside, this pancake is addicting as hell.

东北人家This is a classic one. Braised Pork with Vermicelli. The pork is cooked until extreeeemely soft, giving the soup a nice porky flavor. Wilted winter cabbage adds sweetness to the soup. Fat clear noodles soak up the soup. You eat the pork, cabbage, and vermicelli, AND drink the soup. Continue reading

Karaiya Spice House: Karaiya’s Signature Fish

Karaiya’s Signature Fish – a rendition of Hunan 剁椒鱼头 (Double Pepper Fish Head)

Double Pepper Fish Head is a traditional Hunan dish, where a gigantic fish head is covered in spicy peppers and, according to Alan Wong, owner of Karaiya, “simmered in special Camellia oil [aka tea seed oil] collected from trees.”  At Karaiya, they use a whole fish instead, which I strongly prefer because it does not have as much of the goopy stuff fish heads have.  This fish is tantalizingly addicting.  The yellow peppers on one side and red on the other is steeped in a hot oil, which helps to create this extremely tasty sauce.  You can then buy a plate of noodles to throw into the sauce.  Something about hot searing oil and noodles… you can never go wrong.

 

Even with the noodles, I still always need to gorge myself with their delicious bamboo steamed rice to temper the heat from the fish.

 

This is one of those must-hit restaurants every time I go back home.