It’s Travel Tuesday and a good reminder for me to continue writing about my trip to Xiamen which happened end of last year! 🙂 If you missed my previous posts, I have written about Xiamen’s hotels East Vanguard and Wyndham Hotel, as well as their famous street food. Located on the southeast of China facing the straits, Xiamen is indeed a food paradise, especially seafood. This post will share some of our good eats around Xiamen, ranging from Seafood to street food.
1. Fresh Seafood
Mention seafood restaurant and the first place that locals would suggest is a restaurant called ‘Xiao Yan Jing’, or 小眼镜 literally translated to small pair of glasses? This restaurant is synonymous with seafood such that it is a landmark on its own. We just had to hop on the cab and mention the name to the driver and he would bring us there without questions. It is that famous. But that means it is always packed. We were there at about 7pm on a weeknight and the place was full house. Getting a table was not as challenging as placing our orders though. The ordering system was quite something.
Stir fried clams
We had to go to the back of the restaurant where a row of aquariums and ice boxes were displaying fresh seafood, and then try to get the attention of one of the staff standing there jotting down orders. Bear in mind, the area was filled with impatient patrons rattling their orders away so for beginners like us, we just had to stand and watch, while trying to blend in. It took me a good 30 minutes to finally get the attention of one of the staff, and not without screaming and glaring at new customers who were thinking of cutting the queue. Having very limited vocabulary in Chinese didn’t help much too, except to make the waitress impatient. After that was settled, I was handed a piece of order chit and was asked to wait at my table. *relieved*
Steamed fish in soya sauce – extremely fresh
Placing orders was the hardest part for me, after which everything was just a breeze. The food came within 15 minutes, piping hot and fresh. The stir-fried clams were huge and succulent, unlike the measly clams (lala) that we have back in Malaysia. The steamed fish was out of this world! It was amazingly smooth, firm and flaky that I could almost feel its moving muscles just minutes before it was cooked. No wonder it was the most expensive dish on our table (~RMB80).
Steamed mantis prawns
The mantis prawns were one of the largest that I’ve ever seen and therefore eaten. Although they were fresh, I couldn’t stomach the funny smell coming from their hard shells. The bamboo clams were also my favourite – long, fat and juicy. These were high on the list of recommendations of our waitress.
Stir fried bamboo clams (~RMB30)
Juicy and plump bamboo clams
The stir-fried potato leaves was something that we had very often in Xiamen. This famous local vegetables is sweet and had a soft texture with a slightly gelatinous outer layer.
Stir fried potato leave
Steamed dumplings or ‘Jiao Zi’ 饺子 are famous in all parts of China, including Xiamen. The dumplings served here were sizable with a generous portion of meat (pork) and vegetables stuffing, and were perfect with some vinegar and ginger slices dip.
This restaurant served incredibly fresh seafood that we couldn’t resist from returning to it again for a second visit. The meal for both of us with all the dishes above plus a bottle of fruit juice came to about RMB180 (~RM90)
Xiao Yan Jing, Xiamen
2. Si Chuan Cuisine
Si Chuan cuisine is without a doubt one of the most popular cuisines in the whole of China. When we were in Xiamen, Si Chuan restaurants were aplenty and following the crowd, we ended up at one of the busy Si Chuan restaurants off Zhong Shan Lu.
Cold Black fungus
This time, there were 4 of us so our orders were more extensive. The most memorable dish were the Spicy and Sour noodles and the Fish Fillet in Chilli oil. The noodles were served cold and had a sharp and spicy kick to it that was sure to awaken any senses. Eating that as an appetizer was perfect for it made me all the more hungry and ready for the next dishes. 🙂
Sour and spicy noodles
For the more adventurous, you could try to order the Mao Xue Wang, a specialty of Si Chuan cuisine. This pot of fiery hot chili oil was filled with all kinds of pork and beef innards as well as coagulated blood. It was indeed a real delicacy – a spicy one!
Mao Xue Wang (毛血旺)
Concoction of tripe, coagulated blood and other pork organs in chili oil
The “La Ji Zi” or Fried chicken in dried chili was a more common and safer choice of dish. It was fragrant, spicy and numbing, especially if you accidentally bite into a piece of that black peppercorn.
“La Zi Ji” Fried diced chicken with fried chili
My personal favourite would still be the Fish Fillet in Chili oil, for the fish fillet was superbly fresh and smooth! Even though the Chinese named it as “Shui Zhu Yu” that literally translates to “Fish boiled in water”, don’t be fooled for the whole pot was filled with chili oil instead. The trick to making this dish fabulous is nothing but the fresh fish fillet and the spicy dried chili. Combine these two together and you’ll be sure to down two bowls of rice without questions. 🙂
“Shui Zhu Yu” Fish Fillets in Chili Oil
The giant bowl of fish fillet
There are plenty of other Si Chuan restaurants around in Xiamen, some of which are even better than the one we went to, I’m sure. But if you’re already in the famous Zhong Shan Lu and don’t want the hassle of taking the cab to somewhere else, then Yu Wang Si Chuan restaurant could be just the place for you.
Yu Wang Sichuan Cuisine off Zhong Shan Lu
Along the famous Zhong Shan Lu is a famous Peanut Soup shop called Ze He Huang. Their specialty is the peanut soup which has clear broth and soft boiled peanuts within. The soup is extremely sweet while the peanuts were fragrant and soft. This is easily the locals’ pick for a sweet finish! 🙂
Peanut Soup at Ze He Huang Peanut shop
4. Street Food
As written in my previous post, the variety of street food in Xiamen is countless! Food comes in abundance and cheap, and you almost always see people eating while walking. A more detailed coverage of Xiamen’s street food can be found at Downtowntraveler’s website, which I guest blogged at not too long ago.
Xiao Long Bao
There are still a myriad of other restaurants and hawker stalls to be explored in Xiamen, which would be impossible for a tourist like me to complete within a week of holiday. That just means another reason for me to return, yes? 🙂