Archive for the ‘Chinese Food’ Category

Well, Julianne and I are slowly nearing the end of our time in China–we leave in a couple days.

It’s been extremely hot and humid outside now for several days. Sometimes there’s a semi-cooling breeze that keeps things tolerable in the shade, and sometimes there’s not and you begin to feel like you’re walking through an outdoor sauna . . . and it’s only going to get hotter as the summer progresses!

Anyways, tonight we went out for dinner with friends. One of them had a brother visiting from America, and they had just returned from Beijing and traveling around doing the tourist thing.

We went out for Korean food and had a good time talking about the brother’s first experiences in China. I also got a great picture of him trying kimchi for the first time–he pretty much did the classic contortion and smile to try and hide the shock at how spicy/sour/salty/unlike-anything-you’ve-ever-eaten-in-your-entire-life-before-face . . . it was FANTASTIC!

Later, as we were walking around to do some shopping I saw a classic THIS IS CHINA nighttime street scene.

Shirtless, cold beers, snacks, and sitting with friends by the street having a good time . . .



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Some people can use chopsticks and others hold two sticks in their hand like they’re paralyzed from the wrist down, lol.

After learning how to use Korean metal chopsticks to pick up small nuts, anything food that is wet or slimy, and NOODLES which are the ultimate metal chopstick test in my mind I’ve gotten quite good with them.

Tonight, however, I was reminded how some people can be ‘chopstick-challenged’ as I watched a friend trying to get noodles into her bowl . . . sorry “A,” it looked funny to me, lol.

The best part about all of this is “A” speaks Chinese fluently (she’d deny that, but she is really good) . . . but “A + chopsticks + noodles” = potential for disaster.

Anyways, dinner was GOOD tonight!


NOTE: To all people living in Asia (especially Korea) please don’t read this post as validating the MYTH/FALSE BELIEF that many people have about westerners/native English speakers being incapable of using chopsticks–some of us can use them very well, some moderately well, and some are hopelessly unable to use them.  Using chopsticks is NOT like brain surgery–as one Korean surgeon told a news reporter in a story I read (RIDICULOUS!)–and it’s more a matter of familiarity and practice than any kind of innate RACIAL ability!

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Went out tonight for Chinese food with friends and left my camera and lenses inside the air conditioning to get a break from the heat and humidity.

While we all were getting settled at the table I snapped this picture with my iTouch camera.

The ubiquitous roll of toilet paper (used as napkins in Asia) sat front and center.

In the background, someone’s ‘sticker feng shui‘ had been shotgunned all over the wall, lol.

The best part of dinner was when I shot some pics of the dishes as they arrived and the hostess and server were ooing and ahhhing over them, lol. I thought of my Canon DSLR and Canon ES-71II 50mm lens aka my ‘food lens’ and the contrast in quality of picture . . . I think if I showed them shots I’ve taken of their food in the past from my GOOD camera their heads might explode . . .lol.

Dinner was YUMMY! However, at one point we were all glued to the TV as flooding video was shown from Beijing–nutbar!

As I write this I’m still feeling full from the good food which I will definitely miss once I’m back in Canada.


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How can one explain the potency of stinky tofu’s smell to someone who has never smelled it?

I don’t know if it’s possible, lol.

I smelled it for the first time in South Korea, 2005. I was teaching middle school and walked into the cafeteria for lunch when I was assaulted by an awful and foul stench . . .

At the time I remember turning to a Korean English co-teacher and saying, “Is someone washing dirty laundry? It smells like dirty socks are being washed in the kitchen? And . . . other bad things too . . .” She thought my reaction was quite amusing.

After filling my tray with other foods and getting a bowl full of the stinky tofu I sat down with several other Korean teachers–all of whom were watching me with GREAT INTEREST to see how I’d react to trying the stinky tofu.

I ate it–and it was GOOD! In fact, it was awesome and I sometimes miss it over here in China.

The stinky tofu in China, however, in contrast to Korean stinky tofu . . . well, let’s just say that the pungency power rating of its smell is off the charts! It’s ‘nuclear stinky tofu’ in terms of its olfactory assault capabilities, and Julianne and I have yet to try it.

If and when I get a chance to try Chinese stinky tofu I’ll definitely blog about it . . . the problem is working up the courage to eat something that in my experience with foreign foods only compares to the smell of “skate” (‘honga’ (Korean name) aka sting-ray) that Hans Zimmerman tried while he was in South Korea for his Bizarre Foods TV show . . .

Julianne has pretty much said she doesn’t want to try it. As for me . . . well, if I was willing to eat the “skate” I should be willing to try the stink tofu here.

Time will tell . . . lol.


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Julianne and I went out into the ‘feels like 42 degrees’ heat and humidity tonight to get some dinner with a friend . . . and man was it MOIST out there!

It took TEN MINUTES for my lens to defog when I left the apartment tonight if that’s any indicator of how humid it is right now.

During the walk to the restaurant I snapped a few shots. We saw this new (I think they’re new anyway) rotisserie chicken street vendor cart . . . awesome.

Can you imagine working over one of these carts, though, in 40+ heat and humidity?!!!


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If it can be put on a stick to sell as a snack, it will be put on a stick to sell as a snack.

Julianne and I like the street meat/food on a stick better back in Korea, but the stuff we’ve tried in China hasn’t been too bad.


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The Meat Carver Man, originally uploaded by Serenity in China.

A few days ago Julianne and I were taken out by a Chinese couple who are awesome friends of ours.

We went to a German-Chinese fusion buffet restaurant.

Our friends ordered and set up our bill with the server, and we went to fill up our plates and then came back.

That was when the Meat Carver Man began coming by periodically with skewers of different kinds of meats. He’d set up and cut off some meat for us and we’d each eat some.

After about the fifth appearance of Meat Carver Man I began to wonder how many DIFFERENT kinds of meat our friends had ordered for us.

Our friend, after hearing my question, leaned forward with a big smile on his face and said, “There are over 30 different kinds of meat in this restaurant.”

I’m pretty sure if there had been a video camera trained on Julianne’s face and mine that we blanched simultaneously at the images of what eating THIRTY different kinds of meat would do to our digestive systems . . .

Our friend must have seen this because he then said, “Each day they choose 20 to put on the menu.”

Oh, ONLY 20? Lol! I then told our friends a story about my first year in Korea and how the Korean teachers took me to a raw seafood restaurant where they ordered more than 20 different kinds of fish and repeatedly kept ordering me to eat and eat and eat . . . I then said “later that night I had to spend a lot of time in the bathroom.”

The word “bathroom” in this context lead to a discussion about how Chinese people say “WC” for toilet/washroom and how “WC” stands for “water closet” (anyone who thinks American English is dominant in China needs to teach and live here before saying that!). After exploring the origins and variations of the words we returned to ‘spending hours in the bathroom’ and what it meant–which was explained in Chinese by the English teacher to her husband because he wasn’t sure what I was alluding to, lol.

I think maybe five or six more different types of meats were delivered by Meat Carver Man before a cessation in the meat-blitzkrieg suddenly halted . . . I realized that sometime during one of my trips to the buffet tables my friend must have altered the order so that Julianne and I wouldn’t have to be forced into eating more than we felt was healthy or safe for us.

This was incredibly awesome of him to do because in most of my experiences in Korea, which is my general basis of contrast and comparison for Chinese culture, whenever this kind of situation would happen my Korean host/colleagues/friends would not be able to catch the ‘hints’ I’d start giving that I didn’t want to stuff myself to the point of illness or spending hours in the bathroom just in order to allow them to fulfill their ideas of what ‘good hospitality’ means (which all too often is about what the host wants versus what the guest NEEDS in Korea).

Kudos to my friend for listening to Julianne and I.


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The Restaurant, originally uploaded by Serenity in China.

Julianne and I were taken out to a buffet restaurant in China a few days ago by a Chinese couple we are friends with.

Some observations about our experience there . . . with so many people inside the restaurant it was a ‘everyone for themselves’ kind of dynamic when it came to getting food at the buffet tables.

I get why this is necessary because with so many people all wanting to get the same thing at the same time (as in a particular food tray), or do the same thing at the same time (as in use the soda fountains), if you act like a Canadian (which I AM) and let someone go ahead of you if you’re unsure who go there first or who is next in line (next in line–ha, I kill me!), then you end up waiting while 20 Chinese people just go and keep on going as the-idiot-Canadian-stands-there-not-wanting-to-be-rude-and-push-in-cut-someone-off . . . I only did that ONCE, however, as I’ve now been overseas long enough to know not to, for example, hold a door open for someone in a shopping mall in Korea thus becoming/transforming in the Koreans’ minds a doorman–yes, it happened to me.

I don’t mind jockeying for position or having to cut off some little kid or polite and shy woman anymore since that seems to be the cultural norm and expectation–I do mind, however, having to fight to find a pair of tongs so that I can actually put food on my plate while going down the buffet tables. Looking around I saw that several people had just picked up the tongs off their resting plates and were using them as their own PERSONAL TONGS while the other half of us looking to load our plates had to wait for an opportunity to snatch up the tongs once a person had finished with them.

My Canadian cultural ‘DNA’ at first told me in a panicked voice that it would be rude to take a pair of tongs and use them just for myself to get food from different trays–but after standing there for what seemed like several minutes but was only one I told the voice to shut up and grabbed tongs and didn’t put them down till I’d got my plate loaded . . .

If I’d been able to I would have taken a picture at the soda fountains where it looked like a multi-body-octopus’ arms were flying in and out and all around the nozzles with glasses being held by different people trying to fill them up . . .

Anyways, the food was really good, and for Julianne and I the general experience was the closest we’ve had to being in a ‘western style’ food and service environment in China.


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A few days ago Julianne and I were taken out by a Chinese couple who we really like and enjoy spending time with.

When we arrived at the German-Chinese fusion food buffet restaurant there were about 75 or so people already waiting. I used the word ‘horde’ in the title but I don’t mean that they were uncivilized or acting poorly. It’s just that the 75 grew to be what I would guess around 200+ people all waiting outside the restaurant to go inside . . .

I asked our friends how big the restaurant was and was told ‘about the size of a football field’ and I think that is probably accurate.

A few minutes after 5pm (no one was allowed to enter before hand), the doors opened and at this point I think the word ‘horde’ again became appropriate as EVERYONE tried to go through the entrance at the same time. Our friends apologized for the behavior but I told them not to worry about it because we’d already experienced door cramming culture in China while getting on and off of buses, lol.

In my entire life I have never seen a restaurant go from completely empty to completely full and buzzing with sound and action in less than 60 seconds–it was astounding to see!

I’ll write more about the buffet experience in my next post.


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Julianne and I are quite intrigued by this style of restaurant in Changsha. There are usually two giant pots with a golden dragon on the front, and during meal times it is a common sight to see someone fishing out smaller brown pots of food from inside the pots . . .

I don’t know if they are similar to the giant stainless steel steamer cooker tables full of food dishes that I’ve posted about before. I’ll have to ask someone about that later. I also haven’t seen any steam coming out the tops of the giant pots but I think the smaller pots must be hot to the touch because I’ve yet to see anyone hold them in their hands.

Maybe Julianne and I will try eating at one of these restaurants in the next few weeks.


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