Wednesday, July 6, 2016

What I Ate Today: China Edition

Lately I've posted mostly photos of my travels, but little of my daily life in China. I'm packing up to leave on summer holiday, so I wanted to leave you with 31 days of posts that paint a picture of what it's like to live in China and what my current life is like. If you want to join in the sharing I'd love it if you would place a link in the comments back to your post. I hope you enjoy and have a great summer!

In Langfang, it's difficult to get real western food. There are several restaurants that serve westernish food, but the taste and quality is not very good. The price for these dishes is usually very expensive and not really worth it. Chinese food can be incredibly cheap and usually tastes pretty good. We do have a few American chain fast food restaurants in town, but I can't tolerate eating fast food that often.

In my opinion, there are two types of western restaurants in China. There are restaurants owned by westerners who understand how to cook the food and use quality ingredients. Unfortunately, they are mostly located in the large cities with a large expat population. A meal at one of these restaurants will usually run you a minimum of 100 rmb ($15.00+) per person, but you'll most likely have an enjoyable meal. The other type, which I refer to as westernish, are operated by Chinese locals who most likely never traveled to a western country or sampled real western food. They serve their idea of western food, which I assure you is very far from the real thing. Typically the dishes I've had at these restaurants are deep fried and overcooked. Some restaurants will serve freshly prepared items, but they aren't prepared in the same way. An odd combination of vegetables might be thrown in, just because. Don't expect to be served what your perception of the item is based on the menu description. Unless you've ordered it before, you never really know what you're going to get. A friend of mine calls it Chinese Western fusion, but I interpret that ironically. Meals at these restaurants are usually expensive, especially for what you get. You'll probably pay at least $10, and you'll leave with regret.      

This is what I had for lunch today. I dined with another person so we shared some appetizers. The udon noodle dish was incredibly bland; I didn't even finish half of it. The fried shrimp and fried spring roles were just okay. I dipped them in the soy sauce on the table because they didn't offer anything other than ketchup (which I hate). They tasted like bad frozen meals from the freezer section that you try once and never again. There's little inside the breading and they're typically served over cooked. Blah. I usually try to avoid it, but occasionally I'm feeling optimistic, miss western food, and don't feel like cooking for myself. I'm preparing to leave for the summer so my fridge is nearly empty. Today I went for lunch around 3pm and all of my local Chinese restaurants are closed between lunch and dinner. The meal pictured below (plus a can of Coke and mango smoothie) cost 79 rmb or $11.80. Afterwards, I wished I had just gone to Subway or McD's. 

For dinner, I was invited to a BBQ by two of my university students. By BBQ I mean going to a restaurant that has an outdoor grill and tables, and ordering dishes like meat on a stick. It's often served on metal trays and we eat on little, metal stools at plastic picnic tables. (I try to eat at the restaurants that I know are Muslim, so at least you know the lamb is really lamb and you're eating good quality meat. You can spot them because the sign is in Chinese and also Arabic). 

There were three of us dining. I don't know the price because they invited me and Chinese custom dictates that the person who invites, pays. Here's a look at what we ordered: 

Salad of raw vegetable and vinegar dressing

Grilled Lamb

Grilled Bread

BBQ Tofu and Pork

Grilled Fish

BBQ Menu

What are your thoughts on Chinese food? 
What did you eat today?


  1. Your second meal looks amazing! I remember on our way home from 10 days in China, craving something simple from home. We ordered ham and cheese sandwiches and they were a little bit different, but a nice attempt. It's interesting to see what other cultures' takes on American food look like.

    1. That's funny you say that. A few days ago I had a take on ham and cheese here. In addition to the ham and cheese they added egg salad. They had even melted extra cheese on top of the bread even though the whole thing was served cold.