After the heavy lunch near the Great Wall of China, we were still feeling full come dinner time. Fortunately, our hostess suggested a rather light dinner option, which was also a specialty in Beijing. We were headed to a restaurant to eat dumplings and only dumplings! Dumplings (sui kau in Cantonese) are very traditional and they’re compulsory to be served on the first day of Chinese New Year in Beijing families. In fact, when I was watching the television in Beijing, I noticed that there were many advertisements on frozen ready-made dumplings where you could just steam them before eating. And those advertisements were focusing on the Chinese New Year celebration which was, at that time, around 3 weeks away. Anyway, we were brought to this restaurant in Beijing, yet another name that I could not comprehend.
My host, Mr Liew ordered this drink with a cute name. I heard him ordering ‘Lulu’ to the waitress, and I was curious to know what it was. It turned out to be a canned drink of almond milk. What a funny name! So if you want to order almond milk when you’re in Beijing next time, just holler ‘Lulu’!
Lulu almond milk drink
My hostess Joanne never started a meal without at least one cold dish. This was the cold dish she ordered that night, which tasted like jellyfish. As usual, I never had much preference for cold dishes, more so during the winter!
After placing our orders of different types of dumplings, I walked around and saw the group of chefs busy preparing the dumplings in the kitchen. They looked so engross and intense that they had no idea I was observing them.
For the sake of those who could actually read Chinese, here is a snapshot of the menu board on display. I bet those last two Chinese words in each sentence was ‘sui kau’, but that’s all. Oh, of course I could already read the price of 22 yuan.
Finally, our orders arrived, all wrapped up nicely. From the looks of it, they were all the same and very dull, due to the same white colour. The difference was all in the fillings. This plate came with vegetables as the fillings. Very healthy and delicious too! Each piece was wrapped meticulously and with every bite, delicious gravy oozed out into your mouth.
Here is another picture of dumplings, with fillings of pork meat. This was very similar to eating ‘siew long pau’, except that the size here was much larger. The meat was marinated so the juice that oozed out was very tasty. I could eat a whole plate of this if only my stomach were bigger.
Meat and vege fillings
Surprisingly, eating dumplings was not really considered ‘light’. Each piece was either fully filled with meat or packed with vegetables. Couple that with the flour on each dumpling, you pretty much get full after maybe 5 or 6 pieces. Look at the remnants of our food that night! The 5 of us could not finish 3 plates of dumplings! We ended up packing them to bring home.
All types of dumplings
Once we reached home, Liew went out on his own saying that he wanted to buy something for us to try. Upon arrival, he came bearing this paper bag with the picture of an old man holding sticks of candy. He bought us ‘bing tang hu lu’! It was the traditional candy that most period Chinese series would show.
I had always seen them in the Chinese series and imagined these candies to be sweet. However, after the first bite, I knew I was greatly mistaken. These candies were made from shanzha (???), also known as Chinese hawthorn or Chinese haw. They’re sour, with a coat of hardened sugar on the exterior. I personally did not really like them because I never liked sour food.
Anyway, it was certainly an experience to remember. Now I would know how the candies actually taste like when I see them again in Chinese series! I’d gladly say “No thanks”.
Bing tang hu lu
For the rest of my Beijing, China adventure, check out my Beijing Itinerary.