Non-Beijing food in Beijing
Like all major metropolises, Beijing has people migrating from all over, and cuisines from all over the world. So, naturally, I didn’t restrict myself to just Beijing or even traditional Chinese foods. And while yes, inevitably I ate some Western food (often at places frequented by lots of Chinese tourists as well) I also tried a couple other cuisines I was unfamiliar with.
Cafe Sambal and Malaysian food. Ok, so this may seem like a bit of a stretch, but Malaysia has a huge ethnically-Chinese population so I figured it largely counted. Also, while I have been to Malaysia, it was several years ago, and I didn’t really explore the cuisine. All I remember is Roti Canai, which is really more Indian-influenced than anything else. The restaurant I chose was a little more on the up-scale side, and had very few vegetarian options – shimp or seafood in nearly every dish. But, they had a few things I could eat, so I went with glass noodles with vegetables. And rice.
It was far more delicately spiced that I had anticipated. And it wasn’t spicy per se. The flavoring was more along the lines of ginger and lemongrass – which are both excellent things. The vegetables were mostly cabbage and some kind of mushroom or black fungus, not sure which. I’m not a huge mushroom fan as a general rule, but I tend to eat a lot of mushrooms when I travel to Asia. It was a nice change of pace food-wise.
Uighur Food. Context: Uighurs are a Central Asian ethnic group largely in the Xinjiang province in western China. They were conquered during the Qing dynasty (the last Chinese dynasty), are primarily Muslim, and sporadically revolt against Chinese rule. Given the fact there was a recommended Uighur restaurant fairly close to the hotel I was staying at, I figured I’d check out the cuisine. I got a green bean dish, a tofu dish, naan, and the local beer,
All the food was truly excellent. It was one of those meals were I just kept eating til I was stuffed because it was so good. The green beans were spicy. I mean sinus-clearing, lip-tingling spicy. I was very glad I’d bought beer – beer cuts through spicy foods better than water or wine. They were also pan-fried – there was no sauce on them. The naan was ok. It was sprinkled with sesame seeds, but wasn’t as good as Indian naan.
The tofu dish was very savory. It actually tasted a lot like this tofu dish I get at my favorite Chinese restaurant in California, only slightly less spicy and with much more sauce. The tofu slices were crispy on the outside, and extremely soft on the inside. All in all it was one of the best meals I had in Beijing!