Spending summertime in terraces

On July 18, 2012, in Beijing, Nightlife, Restaurants, Restaurants & Food, by Jack Li

When I travel to Beijing in summertime, I like to spend my days outside and relax in some terraces of this city sheltered from the beating sun. Even if all restaurants have air conditioner, and make you feel comfortable inside, nothing compares to a good time in a terrace (sometimes they are equipped with big […]

When I travel to Beijing in summertime, I like to spend my days outside and relax in some terraces of this city sheltered from the beating sun. Even if all restaurants have air conditioner, and make you feel comfortable inside, nothing compares to a good time in a terrace (sometimes they are equipped with big fans spraying mist water). Let me introduce you all the places to enjoy summertime in a terrace during your Beijing tour for a drink in the afternoon, a meal or to hang out at night.

Spend some good time with a drink after a walk

After visiting the Forbidden City or wandering in the hutongs, Houhai is a nice place to have a drink and rest. Houhai is a lake between hutongs and the Forbidden City; it is famous now for all the cafés, bars and restaurants in the surroundings. The drinks or meals in this area is not that cheap, quite expensive I would say, but having a drink on daytime is cheaper than at night. But the great thing is the view; you can refresh watching the lake and people on pedal boat, you will feel like escaping from the city. Moreover many cafés have terraces, and even if they are not visible, they often have rooftops where you can enjoy a fresh glass of juice.

Eating outdoor

Guloudajie, near the Beijing hutongs, is famous for its numerous restaurants, terraces or rooftops are not visible from the outside at first glance but you will be surprise by the tranquility in these places. If you go on the restaurants in the little alleys you will find some good surprises! And if you miss having brunch, the Bridge Coffee (in WuDaoKou) is for you. This coffee provides American menus and it is extremely popular among foreign students who live around. The coffee is good and you have a large choice among the cakes and breakfast meals. Why not having a brunch there on a sunny Sunday morning?

Dancing in rooftops

Summertime is the best season to contemplate the illuminating city at night. No one likes to be stuck in random crowded clubs as the weather is so good outside! Beijing is full of rooftops to hang out at night. For example last Friday I went to the opening of a new rooftop whiskey bar in Sanlitun, called 99 degrees, by a French restaurant owner who already has a lot of restaurants in Beijing (Le Petit Gourmand). The advantage was that they could offer free cocktails and free BBQ prepared by a French chef for the opening. Near this new whiskey bar, there are the Kokomo and Migas. Kokomo is a nice bar/club with affordable drinks in the neighborhood, highly appreciated by all foreigners. Migas atmosphere is classier, people are better dressed, and music is less loud than in clubs, in fact it’s like if you were in a cocktail party. The crowd is between 25 and 40; you can have a drink sitting in some tables or in giant eggs with some cushions for a cozy atmosphere. There are so many beautiful terraces in Beijing, but I must say that the Yin Bar has the most beautiful view of the capital. Imagine the illuminated roofs of the Forbidden City and Temple of the Coal Hill shining like stars at night just for your eyes? You can afford it going to the top of The Emperor Hotel.

I hope that my article helped you to find good places to take a lot of nice pictures during your China travel! Don’t hesitate to send some to us and participate to our photo contest!

Sichuan Style

On May 25, 2012, in Ethnic Group Flavors, Restaurants & Food, Sichuan, by Jack Li

If you haven’t tasted the exotic flavors of Sichuan cuisine, then I insist this is a must for any China travel. The irony is that the mouthwatering dishes can be delightful to taste but the spicy can also be torturous on the tongue. The unique blend of ginger, peanuts and sesame paste give a sweet […]

If you haven’t tasted the exotic flavors of Sichuan cuisine, then I insist this is a must for any China travel. The irony is that the mouthwatering dishes can be delightful to taste but the spicy can also be torturous on the tongue. The unique blend of ginger, peanuts and sesame paste give a sweet zing to the cooking whilst the chilli, garlic and, of course, the special ingredient, the Sichuan peppercorn, enhances the cooking to give a distinct appeal. Anybody who loves to experiment with different foods, then taking a trip one of the many China flights to the country would definitely be a treat for the taste buds.

One particular aspect of the cooking which I noticed when eating Sichuan cuisine is the amount of oil. On a couple of occasions, my friends and I have ordered a huge bowl with a typically Ming-dynasty design. Simply peering in the bowl will allow the imagination to run wild with bold colors and textures presented before you. Specifically, two examples which come to mind include one large whole fish waiting to be dissected in the depths of the bowl. The other, is that of some pieces of white meat which looked like chicken fillets; however, on inspection these turned out to be bullfrog! Even though there were quite a few bones to chew around, I actually rather liked the taste of frog which, although many people who go to France said it ‘tastes like chicken’; I found it to be a mixture of yes chicken, but also fish.

If unusual ingredients don’t take your fancy, then there are plenty of other dishes to select. Beef, for example, is a very common ingredient used in Sichuan cooking. Furthermore, within the Sichuan, there are different styles ranging from a vegetarian Buddhist style to Chongqing, Chengdu, and Zigong styles. While some of the most well-known Chinese dishes the world-over have Sichuan origins. Kung pao chicken (Gongbao), for instance, is an extremely popular dish of nuts, diced chicken and mixed together topped off with a rich, sticky flavor. Paradoxically, in spite of being famous for its fiery flavors, much of Sichuan cuisine is not necessarily spicy such as teas smoked duck. Nevertheless, if you want to embrace the spicy stuff, then consider complementing your meal with rice, beer or milk to combat the heat.

Sometimes you may see the ‘Szechuan’ or ‘Szechwan’ on a menu; but rested assured that despite the spelling variation, the food should still be under the Sichuan cuisine. The Sichuan style of cooking is so valued that in 2011, the city of Chengdu was declared by UNESCO as ‘a city of Gastronomy’. Thus, the popularity of Sichuan cuisine means that finding a restaurant in any major Chinese city should not be a problem; there may even be one near your China hotels.

 

 

 

Some Advice on Vegetarian Meals

On April 19, 2012, in Cultural Experience, Restaurants & Food, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

In general, there is a lot of really delicious vegetarian food in China. There are tons of vegetables and fresh fruit and the spices turn regular food into culinary delights. But you still have to know how to find what you’re looking for and as a vegetarian you might find it tricky at the beginning […]

In general, there is a lot of really delicious vegetarian food in China. There are tons of vegetables and fresh fruit and the spices turn regular food into culinary delights. But you still have to know how to find what you’re looking for and as a vegetarian you might find it tricky at the beginning of your China travel experience. If you choose one of the many China Hotels the staff at the reception desk will be happy to give you some advice. Very often people will understand if you say that you’re a vegetarian. But it helps to add that you don’t eat meat, fish or seafood, if that’s the case. And even then, is there a guarantee that there is no touch of fish paste or oyster sauce in your dish? Probably not. If you’re that open, just go from the taste and maybe have a friend take the first bite. If you’re not, you might consider avoiding street food in general missing out on some great food though.  Still, things like baked sweet potatoes or corn on the cob from the streets are just pure vegetables, maybe not exciting but still tasty.

If you think the easiest place to get you something to eat is the supermarket, keep in mind that China is not your home country and even international chain stores don’t offer exactly the same. There are international brands as well as local products but the range of goods is oriented towards the Chinese buyers. This is not a problem at all but for foreigners the difficulty is finding out what’s exactly in the products, unless you have an excellent knowledge of Chinese or somebody who can help you out. When you look for it you can find some products with an English list of the ingredients because just from looking at it you can’t really be sure.

There is not much that can go wrong in the bakery section. Vegetarians who avoid gelatin might stay away from cakes with a creamy filling. But things like rice cakes with a slightly sticky consistency are in general made with starch and not gelatin and there is a really big offer. In general, fruit is a sure bet and easy to get anywhere. If you buy it from street stands just try to bargain as much as you can because vendors often try to charge foreigners more taking advantage of their inexperience. Going from the first offer you can cut it down to a third or a half and then find a compromise. And that’s not only the case for fruit but for all other things you might buy in the streets and smaller shops.

Another thing vegetarians should be aware of is that you might find something that’s in your opinion surely vegetarian but then the next moment you find out that it’s being prepared in the same frying pan as all the meat dishes or even being cooked in the same broth with meat and fish. A no-go for many vegetarians, especially if you have the taste of meat on your vegetarian food. I guess the only thing that helps is to have a close look before buying and to see how the food is prepared. Moreover, it’s sometimes hard to find out if a certain food was prepared with animal fat or vegetable oil. So, again you might listen to your taste buds or you can go for steamed food, like steamed dumplings (baozi) with a vegetable or egg filling. In general, rice is usually just plain rice and noodles are vegetarian, too, although they are often served in a broth that doesn’t necessarily need to be vegetarian.

Talking about restaurants, it’s not impossible to find vegetarian ones. But Buddhist restaurants for example also offer fish and seafood dishes. So they might not be an easy place either for people who don’t eat that. In bigger shopping centers the restaurants adapt more to western eating habits and it’s usually not too complicated to find meat and fish free dishes. And, of course, touristy areas have reacted to visitor’s eating habits and you can find things like pizza easily, although it has nothing to do with Asian cuisine. Regarding all these difficulties for vegetarians it is even harder for vegans. The only place that comes to my mind for is Loving Hut, an international vegetarian and vegan restaurant chain that has branches in Beijing and Hongkong.

In general, there might not be the perfect advice for vegetarians in China. First of all, there are different types of vegetarians some who eat fish and seafood and others who don’t. And then people are vegetarians for different reasons and more or less strict and also, everybody has his own personal taste. So all you can do is keep those little difficulties in mind when you’re planning your China tours . And once you get there you just find your own way.

Browsing Beijing

On April 6, 2012, in Beijing, Restaurants, Shopping, by Jack Li

Before jetting-off on holiday, it is well worth considering visiting Beijing with many of the great China Flights to choose from. Most visitors who travel to Beijing will probably visit the sights such as The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace. Yet walk through the Beijing Gates, off Tiananmen Square, and surround yourself […]

Before jetting-off on holiday, it is well worth considering visiting Beijing with many of the great China Flights to choose from. Most visitors who travel to Beijing will probably visit the sights such as The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace. Yet walk through the Beijing Gates, off Tiananmen Square, and surround yourself with the very best of what local Beijing has to offer. Here is where visitors can walk the main pedestrianized street called Qianmen Dajie which is set to resemble the late Qing-dynasty. One way in which to reach Qianmen Dajie is to travel by line 2 on the subway to Qianmen station.

Branching off from Qianmen Dajie, visitors can explore the many connecting hutongs at their leisure. Steeped in at least 500 years of history, this area exhibits a blend of old and new Beijing. For example, you could either choose from the selection of traditional teas from Zhangyiyuan Tea Shop, or go to Starbucks if you prefer. Needless to say, regardless of what the shops are trading, all the buildings appear in the glorious style of the old city.

There are many eating places in which to dine. Established in 1864, the Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant is undoubtedly the
most famous eating place along Qianmen Dajie. Without doubt, Qianmen Dajie and the nearby hutongs symbolise a vibrant mix of Chinese tradition and the city’s cosmopolitan nature. Other recognised dining experiences, for instance, include the Yitiaolong restaurant, an authentic Muslim restaurant which typically sells mutton. Alternatively, you do not need to travel far to discover a store selling beautiful Tibetan artwork.

Qianmen Dajie is not totally pedestrianized, as a visitor you may like to experience a ride on the street’s two trams. Since 2008, these trams have been restored and are now in operation after over forty years out of service. The main street of Qianmen Dajie is spacious, lively and family-friendly. Street sellers, for example, can be seen selling toy birds and many other quintessentially Chinese gadgets.

Some of the abovementioned attractions may be more expensive than other parts of the city, but nevertheless these are unique to Beijing. The more curious traveller can venture towards the hutongs surrounding Qianmen Dajie where you can find plenty of stalls, all shapes and sizes, to buy souvenirs. Unlike the larger stalls on Qianmen Dajie, the advantage of the hutongs is that you will able to haggle and discover some fascinating souvenirs at a lower price. Furthermore, if you are a keen shopper, you might like to try some of the famous clothing shops around the hutongs such as Beijing Silk Shop, Neiliansheng Shoeshop or Liulichang amongst others.

Indeed, for the backpacker-types there are hostels in the hutongs such as Helen’s café where many westerners can be found, which may be of interest. That said, accommodation in the city is altogether plentiful, and there are many superb Beijing Hotels.

Purple Haze

On November 16, 2010, in Accomodation, Beijing, Cultural Experience, Restaurants & Food, by Jack Li

While exploring Beijing around the Salitun area, I stumbled across a wonderful little Thai restaurant that serves authentic Thai food every day of the week. It is located in the Salitun area, the nearest subway stop being Dongzhmen which is on line two there are also many buses that go pass this street, If you […]

While exploring Beijing around the Salitun area, I stumbled across a wonderful little Thai restaurant that serves authentic Thai food every day of the week. It is located in the Salitun area, the nearest subway stop being Dongzhmen which is on line two there are also many buses that go pass this street, If you want some travel tips check out china travel . From the outside this place looks like nothing but a mere purple shack, but once inside you can see the Asian inspired purple decor with low tables and dim lighting- is very relaxing.

Purple Haze

When I went here I just turned up however, I would recommend booking in advance as it can get very busy especially on a Saturday night. This restaurant is very reasonably- priced, with a great atmosphere to chill and have a nice meal. My favourite was the Thai green curry which came in a massive pot with enough for 2 to easily share, it was just the right amount of spice and sweetness from the coconut. All main meals come with steamed white rice.

Inside Purple Haze

I would definitely suggest trying at least one of the many cocktails they have, I opted for the ginger and Gin which was divine. They also have many non-alcoholic cocktails and beverages which are packed with fruit and are very delicious. Everyday they have a special cocktail of the day which is available at half the price it usually costs.

If this account has inspired you to want to travel Beijing but don’t know where to start for some great low cost travel idea’s go to China Tours. Or if you need advice on hotels go to China Hotels.

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