In Beijing (and I assume in the entire China too but this will be figured prominently soon!) people eat A LOT! I used to believe that we, Greeks, eat like hell but maybe Beijing people can beat us easily! They not only eat a lot but they eat everything that can be eaten too (see below!)! The food is cheap, but not as cheap as the rest of China. For example, a big bowl of rice may cost 50p – £2 depending on the area. Here are the 3 food markets in Beijing that are worth exploring!
As we visited lots of different hutongs (=neighbourhoods consisted of narrow streets and alleys that used to surround the Forbidden City) where locals shop and live, we realised that 100-200 grams of freshly made noodles cost less than 40p and of course this amount is enough for at least a 2-person meal! Also, one can assure that in restaurants (not the super touristic ones) a side dish is a small dish but NOPE! It is almost as a…main in British restaurants and ordering just rice can feed two people!
Having said that let me introduce you 3 Food Markets in Beijing:
The Famous : Wang Fu Jing Snack Street
Located on the centre of Beijing it is what you have seen in pictures, a very busy street full of food (mainly based on meat). Noodles, rice, corn, chestnuts, baked peanuts, huge spring rolls are just few of the veggie options. Most of the dumplings have beef/ pork/ chicken/ seafood inside so if you are vegetarian please be careful! A highlight is the potato skewer that costs 10 CNY (£1.15) and this is the cheapest price we found amongst the street food markets we have been. Many restaurants are around with decent (but not cheap for China) prices. It can be a nice walk after visiting Tienanmen Sq. as it’s about 15 minutes walking distance from the north side of the square.
Nearest Metro station: Wangfujing
The touristic : Dong Hua Men Night Market (open 17:00- 22:00 )
Basically located on the same area as the first one but even if both of the markets are touristic, this one differs because of the food that some stalls offer: tiny scorpions, big spiders, seahorses, small birds, grasshoppers, beetles, lizards and some…unidentified insects are offered in skewers. I call it touristic as we noticed that even Chinese tourists were shocked and were taking photos – if it was a very common thing for them they wouldn’t do that, right? In general, I think, there is a misrepresentation regarding Chinese food- many Europeans believe that Chinese eat dogs for instance but this is not true for the entire country. China is huge and eating dogs is «normal» only in few provinces. It’s very sad but at the end of the day what is the difference between a dog and a sheep, a cow, a pig or a chicken? For me, as vegetarian, the… difference is just a social construct that helps us minimising the «value» of some animals in order to feel less guilty when eating them. Please note that in some stalls photos are not allowed!
Nearest Metro station: Wangfujing
The Local : Nan Luo Gu Xiang
A narrow but long street that you can hardly see any foreigners! We stumbled on it by mistake and it became my favourite one! Very popular amongst young Chinese as it has nice and hip stores for shopping too. I loved the tea (see photo below), the «cone-shaped» waffles with ice cream (in London these cost at least £5 when here about £1.5!) and the vibrant vibe of this place! No English speakers here and you would be lucky if you find any English menus at all! Many…random doors lead to big rooms with lots of food stalls around, don’t be afraid to step in! The metro station Nanluoguxiang is south of the street and the north end of the market leads to Gulou street where you can find vintage stores! I couldn’t ask for more!
Nearest Metro station: Nanluoguxiang
We spent some time watching this lady making these mysterious… meat (?) balls from scratch using a weird (for us!) technique!
These food markets are must when in Beijing, which one is your favourite?
And what about the food? Would you eat them all?