My adventures in the Chinese restaurant: Part I

          I’ve been gathering photos of food I’ve tried here in Beijing for awhile, and its time to share! As soon as we arrived here, the food made me a little anxious. I had a minor freak out at a restaurant when they gave the girls and I water in glasses. I didn’t know how to ask for bottled water and I certainly didn’t want the three of us stuck in the bathroom for the next day with travelers diarrhea! It turned out to be water from a water cooler! I’ve learned that in most restaurants frequented by expats, this is a standard practice. You wouldn’t know this unless you ask or saw the water cooler though. I’d heard stories about what to eat and what not to eat. I was warned multiple times about food and water safety. Vegetables need to be cleaned with bottled water. Meats and fish need to be washed and handled properly. Dairy is of questionable origin. The same goes for eggs. 

Luckily, my husband has travelled here many times and knows of a good number of reputable restaurants. Before we go out to eat, we look online for reviewed restaurants. We’ve had excellent food so far using this method! 

We stayed in a hotel for our first week here, and it was a good introduction into “safe” Chinese food. I was pretty overwhelmed by the choices at the Chinese restaurant, which included many sorts of delicacies from the sea and land, such as marinated jellyfish and black fungus.

Black Fungus
Black Fungus
We actually love Black Fungus, which are slippery black mushrooms, served cold, usually in a vinegar type dressing. It can also be served Sichuan style, which is a lot spicier, but less kid friendly! Another positive about the black fungus dish, is that it is supposed to help you lose weight…

Use of chopsticks: the early days.
Use of chopsticks: the early days.
Another favorite appetizer of ours is Marinated Cucumber Slices. These are usually served in a garlic vinegar sauce. Everyone in our family loves these!
Here are traditional Chinese breakfast foods:
Congee
Congee

Traditional vegetables for breakfast. Delish!
Traditional vegetables for breakfast. Delish!

Congee is a warm rice soup, which I would compare to hot oatmeal, except that its a lot runnier. As far as I could tell, it was simply rice cooked in soy milk. I ate this a lot for breakfast, and would like to start making it at home when cooler weather sets in. I think it could be made child friendly by adding some raisins and brown sugar or cinnamon. (I hope this doesn’t offend the Chinese, but it would work in my house!)
The table.
The table.

When ordering in a Chinese restaurant, one person does all the ordering. For our family of four, we typically order six dishes plus steamed rice for everyone. The dishes are placed in the center, and each person serves him/herself. When you dine out with a large group, you sit at a table with a lazy susan in the middle, so you can gently rotate the entrees and each person takes what they wish. As I said, there is a lot to tell you about food, so look out for more to come later! I will also do a soy sauce taste test, just for Hunter back home in Raleigh.

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