7 Foods That Have Surprised Me in Beijing

Here are the 7 foods that have surprised me most so far:

I took this picture during my first trip to Pizzahut in China.  Pizzahut is really popular in China, along with KFC.  The menu was surprising to me – almost completely different from the American menu, and specializing in black crust pizza that I have never seen back in the States.  Needless to say, the pizza was delicious, and the matcha green tea cheesecake was to die for!

This picture is from my local supermarket down the street.  I had to double take when I saw this gigantic cucumber(?) – my friend and fellow Crusader, Jason, is in the background for a size comparison.  I have never seen one this size!

Another food item I was surprised to find here in Beijing?  Fantastic Mexican food! If you know me, you know I LOVE anything with avocado, but especially guacamole.  This guac at Taco Bar has been my favorite so far, and surprisingly authentic tasting.  After chips and guac, my friends and I love to grab tacos here on a night out and treat ourselves.

My absolute favorite snack: Lay’s Wasabi flavored potato chips.  Incredible!  China’s potato chip selection is completely different from the US – it can often be impossible to find favorites from home like sour cream and onion, sea salt and vinegar, or BBQ.  More common flavors here include cucumber, Italian red meat, tomato, etc.  However, while you can sometimes find American Classic, my new favorite is Wasabi, which has the perfect amount of spice and mouthwatering flavor.  Will definitely be sneaking a bag home with me!

This is a picture of the mooncake I ate in celebration of the Mid Autumn festival in October.  I love the designs on top of the mooncake, and I especially love the story behind why we eat mooncakes (check out https://vimeo.com/236684413 to learn more, it’s a great story!) Nowadays you can get mooncakes with almost any flavor, from red bean or green tea, to chocolate or ice cream.  It was really exciting being able to try a mooncake for the first time and participate in this Chinese cultural festival!

Still mustering up the courage to try one of these Chinese beef floss pastries.  The outside seems to be covered in something with a texture that looks like fur…update to come!

This particular green tea matcha ice cream comes from a traditional neighborhood in Beijing called HouHai.  If you like green tea, you will love the strong, almost bittersweet flavor of this ice cream.  It was the perfect way to end the day after walking through the busy streets of the hutong and enjoying the sunset on the lake.

Thanks for reading! 再见!

My Top 7 Foods in China…so far

Here is a look at 7 of my favorite meals in Beijing so far:

Chinese hotpot!  Simply one of the best ways to bond with new friends in China, which you can see in this pic from my first week in Beijing.  Collectively, the table orders a variety of uncooked meats, vegetables, mushrooms, potatoes, dumplings, etc and cooks them in a large pot at the center of the table.  The experience makes for great conversation and gives the opportunity to sample lots of different delicious foods.  After cooking my meats, I love to dip them in the brown colored sauce (seen in the white bowl) which has a peanut butter-like flavor.  So delicious!

My favorite breakfast food (honestly, anytime food) – Baozi! At almost any convenience store you can easily find baozi, which are these delicious white buns filled with meat or vegetables.  I typically like to order mine with Zhu Rou, or Da Rou, which are various ways of preparing pork.  Eating a nice warm and moist baozi can be a great (and cheap) way to start your day or have a snack.  I will 100% have to import these to the US when I return home.

Beijingers are generally known to eat a lot of noodles with their food, which I absolutely love!  These soupy noodles have a fantastic combination of greens with a spicy, peppery sauce.  I could be happy eating these noodles for days.

Because Beijing food delivery closes so early (usually before midnight), and because of the Chinese inclination toward family style eating, it is not surprising that my friends and I have already explored McDonalds in China, which is open late and where you can conveniently order your own food.  This is the Chinese Big Mac, which, as far as I can tell, is pretty much the same as the Big Macs we are used to in the States (although I’m convinced the special sauce has been tweaked slightly).  It is not uncommon for fast food restaurants to alter their recipes and meals to cater to the Chinese consumer, but this is one distinctly American treat I can count on to be the same as back home.

This is a bowl of spicy noodles in broth offered at the dining hall across the street from my dorm.  On a cold day, I love ordering these noodles that make me feel nice and warm.  For a great price, these noodles taste great and will leave you feeling full.

While you can purchase egg waffle ice cream in the States, my first time having this Asian-style treat was here in Beijing in an traditional style neighborhood called Nan Luo Gu Xiang.  This particular vanilla ice cream was topped with mango and an Oreo and was absolutely delicious.  10/10 would recommend!

One of my favorite parts about studying with CET is that every Friday after class, our professors take the class out for lunch to a different restaurant each week.  This picture is from our class lunch at a restaurant that specializes in Sichuan style food, which is a style of Chinese food that is known to be very spicy.  This was my absolute favorite class lunch because the food was incredible – from spicy tofu to salty green beans to sweet glazed pork, every dish was mouth wateringly good.


Coming next – 7 of the most intriguing foods I’ve seen in China!

My First Trip to 798 Art District!

This past week I was lucky enough to get a couple much needed days off in celebration of China’s National Day, which is an annual public holiday marking the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. Because almost everyone is off from school and work, this mini vacation was not a good time to travel or visit some of Beijing’s most famous sites; instead, my friends and I decided to check out a slightly more secluded part of Beijing called 798 Art District.  Before going, I was super excited about this opportunity because I am currently conducting a research project on contemporary/young adult art in China and its impact on Chinese culture.  It was so awesome to be able to see some contemporary Chinese art in person!

Stepping into the art district felt like being in a different world.  Most of the galleries seemed to be in abandoned industrial buildings and factories, but all of them seemed to have their own wonderland like twist, for example the giant panda statues and bright pink walls, or the Simpsons and Paul Frank characters outside of one shop.

One of my favorite pieces was a large outdoor mural with really intricate details of buildings and daily life, as well as a changing line of perspective.  It looked like a bird’s eye view of a futuristic city.  I am really looking forward to going back to 798 Art District very soon and continuing to explore – with so many twists and turns, I feel like I have barely cracked the surface of all it has to offer.


I just wanted coffee and then this happened…

If you know me, you know I cannot start my day without a piping hot cup of coffee.

In a country known for its amazing tea selection, finding a decently priced cup of coffee in Beijing is not an easy task.

My friends and I started on our way to find the perfect coffee shop to study at for our upcoming test; we were headed to a local place one of our roommates had recommended.  About 45 minutes of walking later, we still had not found the coffee shop we had set out for.  We were tempted to head back to campus, but decided to take the opportunity to continue checking out the area of 五棵松.  The area seemed relatively empty, with expansive parking lots and a couple fast food chains (KFC is HUGE here).  However, in search of the nearest train station, just slightly below street level we found a hidden area brimming with life.

As we entered it felt like we were suddenly entering an entirely different world from where we came from.  Our senses were completely overwhelmed from the live musicians on every corner, the video games being broadcasted on a huge electric screen high above us, the shiny and inviting luxury stores at every turn and the bars and restaurants that sent aromas of delicious noodles and pastries wafting through the air.  We were surrounded by dancing neon lights, bold contemporary art statues, and even a giant slide to move from one level of the development to the next.

While I was immediately struck by the modern, and even, to an extent, Western feel of this new wonderland, there were elements that felt, to me, so distinctly and traditionally Chinese – whether it be the locals singing karaoke and dancing on the sidewalk, the delicious smell of hot pot, or the market full of Chinese goods, with everything from jade to tea leaves.

I am even writing to you now from my new favorite coffee shop, Holly’s Coffee, which I came across in this mysterious new world.  I could not resist going back because I could not get this place out of my mind.  Despite all the beauty and history to be seen in some of Beijing’s most historical and well known sites, I could not help but feel that this new place gave me a vibe that distinctly represented the Beijing of the past and the future.

Today in class I learned a Chinese idiom “古今并存”, which means to exist as old and new simultaneously.  This idiom undeniably applies to Beijing, and even more so to this wonderful new location I found.  Part of the beauty of Beijing, and why it is so attractive to me, is its constant evolution toward what is new, but also its adaption and celebration of what is old.  It creates a truly original place that evokes a feeling I cannot liken to anything I have ever felt before.  I love this new feeling of being in Beijing!

Looking back, I am so glad that my classmates and I did not just go straight back to campus that day, otherwise we may have never found this special place at五棵松.  I think this experience really emphasizes why it is so important to be willing to explore the unfamiliar, as you never know what you will find or learn!