I had to go on a week-long business trip to Beijing last week. It was incredibly tiring, not because the work was hard or uninteresting, but because the air was very sandy. My eyes became very tired as soon as I stepped out of the hotel.
But that said, it had been a stimulating week of chatting with different people, visiting far-flung places, learning to use less developed public transport systems on the outskirts of Beijing, and reminiscing my childhood days in Melaka when roads and public transportation were under-developed, and a simple trip could take hours on end.
On the first evening, a Monday, my good friend in Beijing Mi Mi took me to xiabu xiabu, a mini hotpot chain that is so wildly popular that every mall in Beijing is fighting to have it on their premises (when other operators practically have to bribe their way in to get a place in the same malls).
xiabu xiabu was established during the SARS years, taking off immediately because its idea of individual small pots was more hygienic and favored over the traditional big hotpot where everyone at the table dipped their saliva-laden utensils into the same gravy.
On Tuesday, I met a (cute) young Taiwanese designer based here to understand a bit more about the design scene in Beijing, and the overall taste of the Chinese people when it came to design. We had lunch after the meeting, comprising of a series of snacks, including a delicious rice dumpling which I forgot to take a picture of (it was so yummy!)
A Beijing street snack: an assortment of pig's organs in starchy broth. Not bad actually.
This is the store that served the afore-mentioned delicious dumplings and the following soup.
This is a really refreshing bowl, loved it! The cubes are carrot cake, boiled with some spinach, and dumplings filled with savory meat (instead of the usual sweet bean paste, sesame seeds or crushed peanut filling)
This is Dajiang Hutong, which is a tourist attraction. It is also home to a Taiwanese delicacy, art and design street.
On Wednesday morning, I took a super long cab ride to a far-flung industrial area almost on the border of Beijing and Hubei to meet an interviewee. There were not many options for lunch so we settled for this one.
Sometimes simple dishes can be the most delicious.
Homemade tofu. It definitely agrees with me. I'm a real sucker for tofu.
This was sorta sweet so it wasn't my favorite. My interviewee said that it did not taste as good as it should. The true version would have been a little more caramelized and golden.
On Thursday evening, I met a very enthusiastic young man from Inner Mongolia who was graduating from Jiaotong University this summer. He is now an intern at a game design company. We talked for way beyond our scheduled interview hours, about life, school, work, outside of the assigned topic about his laptop computer. After that, we had dinner at the school’s canteen/restaurant.
Chicken pieces with chilli, called 辣子鸡丁, I suppose it's slightly different from Sichuan's 辣子鸡 because they didn't look alike, neither did they taste the same. This version was pretty tasty too.
This is deep-fried potato strips. Potatoes are the main produce from the boy's hometown of Batou. This dish was crunchily superb!!!