Xi’An Food

This is the third and last write up about my trip to Xi’an. My first write up was about our tour of the Muslim neighbourhood and the second write was about seeing Emperor Qin‘s terracotta army. Now it’s time to talk about Xi’an’s food.

Xi’an is at the north west part of China. People there tend to eat more noodles and steam buns (or baked buns)  then rice. As well, they eat more mutton. The latter doesn’t really go well with me because the smell and the taste of mutton is too gamey  for me. Saying that, I did try a mutton soup that’s is popular in the area. The soup has little bits of baked flat bread in the soup. It’s almost like crushing some crackers into a chicken noodle back in Canada. I could only eat a bit of it because the mutton flavour was too strong.

The next day, I had another type of soup. It’s spicy and it also has another spicy that made my mouth fizzes and tingle. The sensation lasted about 10 minutes after eating. I wonder what the spice was?

The other two popular local dishes are baked mian bao stuff with shredded meat. It’s a meat sandwich. I tried one, it’s pretty good. The dish that I like the most is the cold noodle with sesame and peanut sauce.  I like it because the noodles are big and it’s not fried. It’s refreshing. Lately, I’ve been eating a lot of fried food.

Baked flat bread. Popular in northern China.

Fire spewing out from the stove as the noodle maker takes a break to check his phone.

My lunch. Freshly made noodle with sesame and peanut sauce (i added a bit of chili) and 3 baozi.

 

Pieces of baked bread in my mutton soup.

Having supper after a long 1st day. (L-R: Me, Anne, Lisa and Jon)

Close up of my dinner. Freshly made noodles with veggies and beef. yummmmmmy.

Steaming dessert. This lady has a sister in Winnipeg!

This soup made my mouth fizzes and tingle. Not sure what kind of spice can do this effect.

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Domestic Inflight Food Ranking of the 3 Major China Airlines

Flying within China (within SE Asia) is affordable. My recent round trip from Hangzhou to Xi’an was 1170 yuan ($195 CDN). Each of my flight included a drink service, a meal service then another drink service. This is way better than anything I get when I fly within Canada and United States in economy class.

I have been on 3 major China airliners: Air China, China Eastern and China Southern. All of these airliners are very friendly and professional. The planes I flew were  the Airbus’ A319/320/321 narrow body type and each flight lasted about 2 hours.

It’s time to compare these airliners on their domestic inflight food given that other areas like checking in, boarding and so forth are on par with each other. This ranking is only of my experience so it’s bias as my bias taste buds can be :)

#1 China Southern

The best inflight food I ever had was when I flew from Hangzhou to Shenzhen. I had sweet & sour fish with steam rice and vegetable. The fish was tender and with crispy batter. The sweet and sour sauce was not over powering. The steam rice was hot and moist. There were plenty of drinks to choose but I usually ask for tea and water when I’m flying.

On the flight back from Shenzhen to Hangzhou, the flight was delayed for about an hour due to an issue with the air traffic control (ATC). The airline was kind enough to serve a sandwich, some snacks and drinks while the airplane sat on the tarmac waiting for the ATC to clear it for take off.

#2 Air China

I had breakfast on this airline. The options were a Chinese breakfast or a western breakfast. Since I couldn’t follow the fast Chinese speaking flight attendant, I was given, by default, a Chinese breakfast. I was surprised to get rice porridge (congee), fermented mustard, a hard boiled egg, a bun (doesn’t go with anything) and a tangerine. I like it because that morning was cold and this meal was perfect. As well, it’s kinda of cool to eat rice porridge at 30,000 feet.

My friend Jon, who knows more Chinese than me got a western breakfast. It consisted of scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon and grilled brocoli. Not bad at all.

Rice porridge for breakfast. Air China inflight food.

#3 China Eastern

I have high expectation for this airline and I was hungry on my morning return flight to Hangzhou from Xi’an. What I got was a food box with a mini-bun, a spongy muffin with pink filling that suppose to taste like strawberries, one-gulp size water and a small bag of peanuts. The meal was unexciting and a big let down.

Back in Hangzhou again. Charlotte and Lisa on the stairs. Anne on the tarmac walking towards the bus to take us to the arrival terminal.

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Food Glorious In Beijing

The first post I wrote was about how we got to Beijing and the second post was about trekking at the Great Wall of China. This post is about food — an important part of a good trip.

Peking Duck Central

We’re in Beijing. The world over knows about this city’s special roast duck — Peking Duck. Our first dinner in Beijing was at Quan Ju De Peking Duck Restaurant. This is the best and oldest Peking Duck restaurant in China. The recipe is believed to come from the emperor’s chef. Back then, it was forbidden for commoners to eat this style of roast duck. And now, it’s open season for everyone to enjoy.

The restaurant is beautifully decorated and it has two dining floors. Many dignitaries and famous people come to this restaurant to taste the finest roast ducks in the country. No. It’s the finest…in the world. We had to wait for about 1 hour and 45 minutes to get a table. It was worth it given the fame of the restaurant.

How does it taste? It was mesmerizing. Juicy and tender. The crispy skin has just crisp and no hint of chewiness. It was pure savoury decadent that, at one time, only emperors of China could experience. Below are some photos of our dining experience.

A grand entrance to the Quan Ju De Roast Duck restaurant near Qianmen.

Inside of the restaurant. People waiting or inquiring on the wait time.

Goofing around while we wait for our 2 Peking roast ducks (L-R: Anne, Thanou and Hyeonji).

The chef is carving our first duck. Hyeonji taking a photo and Alex looking calm (yet the next photo tells a different story).

 

Alex is going at it.

Eating the Olympic Style – There are Losers and Winners

The next night, we headed Beijing Olympic Park to check out the Bird’s Nest Stadium and other Olympic landmarks. To our surprise, there was a huge and long food tent just in front of the stadium. Say no more. We’re ready to eat — like a champion. It was huge inside the tent with food vendors along both sides. The shear number of vendors and people got me into a frenzy of hunger blindness. I want to eat everything.

In order to get food, I had to buy a food debit card for 100 yuan. It cost 10 yuan for the cost of the card, so there’s only 90 yuan to buy the food. A plate of food cost between 15 yuan to 45 yuan (multiple of 15). There’s all kinds of food there but the portion to price point is disappointing. The taste didn’t help much. The noodle dishes that I ate were salty and nothing else.

Out of the four of us, Anne deserves a medal for eating scorpions for dinner. She was in the zone and truly ate like a champ. An easy gold medal for her and no medal for the food tent.

The big food tent full of people. I am dazzled by the variety of food. The dishes that I ate were a let down. Salty and nothing else.

Chomping on her 3rd and final scorpion. Give this woman a gold medal!

 

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