Here is what you have been waiting for! I worked in Beijing for a month this summer, and here are the photos of a bunch of stuff I ate. I will have another post about the food in general and stories about being vegan in China.
It’s easier for me to put these in categories , so let’s start with the most important meal of the day:
The Hotel Breakfast
The fresh warm, presumably soy milk was so good. The tea and coffee was made already with milk and sugar, so warm soy milk and an azuki bean bun became my “tea & biscuit” to relax me before going to work.
Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and dinner was kindly provided for us. I was living in a hotel with no refrigerator or microwave, so I couldn’t really bring in my own lunch. Despite making my diet clear to many people in charge many times (then why did they ask about special diets?), lunch sometimes was only steamed greens and bread for me. The vegetarian soup always had egg in it (except twice). The rice always had egg in it (except four times). And very often just a container of fried eggs (Non-foreigners had plain rice given to them. I guess eggs are supposed to impress us). I barely ate rice in China because of this. I asked for less meaty & eggy options, not just for me, but it was alienating a few other vegetarians & pescitarians as well. My voice was heard and you’ll see in the third photo the bounty (which everyone shouted in glee about seeing fresh vegetables- which are hard to find to eat). It slowly went down hill again, and by the last day I was back to french fries and greens. Always steamed bok choy or something similar. All the time. Every day.
Eating out in normal restaurants wasn’t too bad, but there was a lot of repetitive food. For most of the time I had a Chinese speaker or my handy International Vegetarian Union Chinese printout to hand to the staff, which was super convenient. I will say a lot of these are from when the company took us out to eat. The first photo is your typical vegan options without any effort from the restaurant. “Oh, yeah, here.”
Buddhism is normal in Beijing. Temples are everywhere, Buddhas are charms in cars and lots of people wear prayer beads. This means there are vegetarian people and a demand for vegetarian food. I went to a few restaurants: Bowei Tang Natural Vegetarian, Gongdelin, and Xu Xiang Zhai.
It was such a welcome relief to choose from so much and more than that, have a DIFFERENT choice of foods rather than, you guessed it: steamed bok choy. Fresh juice, meat free sauces and food not covered in grease were a welcome relief to my stomach. And I’m very happy to report the non-vegetarians really loved it too. I could see them actually surprised how much they loved it. It’s always nice when food can speak for itself!
Bowei Tang was near my hotel:
Gongdelin was suggested by Messy Vegetarian Cook as the mapo tofu made her a foodie.
They were out of it when I went, but this finished me off instead:
Xu Xiang Zhai is the highest rated restaurant on Happy Cow in Beijing. I wanted to go with friends to the buffet so they could really try and explore veggie food without commitment to one dish. Unfortunately, we arrived an hour before they closed the buffet was pretty wiped out. So we ordered from the main menu and shared a bunch of dishes instead. The service was a hot mess, but the food made up for it. This was a real crowd pleaser.
Dessert is mostly fresh fruit, which is pretty refreshing after all that food covered in grease and sauce. Usuallym we had watermelon and dragonfruit included on our fruit platters.
Sometimes you just want a little nibble. And China loves to nibble into all hours of the morning!
And then sometimes you don’t want to go out at all.
But the best part was getting to meet my long lost 3rd cousin (little brother in Chinese!) and eating our way around Beijing together.