Guild Hall Dining, #1

DSCN5022

While on a walking tour of Beijing’s Tienanmen Square and environs, I learned that from way back when each province of China has had guild halls where envoys from the provinces would stay. These halls also have restaurants where anyone can sample the best cuisine from each province for a relatively low price.

I found a list of these spots on a blog called Eileen Eats and have wanted to visit some for quite a while. This past weekend I had a friend who was game and we went to Xingjiang Fanzhuang Urumuqi Muncipal Office for lunch.

DSCN5024

Since the blog contains the addresses in Chinese as well as the romanized pinyin, we could show a taxi where to go. Urumuqi is the capital of Xinjiang, a western province with a large population of Uighurs, an ethnic group that differs from the Han Chinese in language, culture and politics. I’ve had good Uighur food in Beijing at a restaurant that’s disappeared and on my trip to Urumuqi.

DSCN5025

Lamb & onions

After a 15 minute taxi ride from the South Cathedral at Xuanwumen, we arrived in a neighborhood and weren’t sure we got to the right place, then we saw a Central Asian facade on a building set back from the street. Sure enough this was the right place.

DSCN5026

Potatoes

Upon entering we where struck by the noisy bustle of the restaurant. The place was busy and the wait staff scurried about. Soon someone noticed us and gave us a card with a number. Then after awhile someone was shouting a number in Chinese and was getting frustrated that no one was responding. I guessed, correctly, that they were calling for us. We were shown to a table and given a menu with English and with photos. Since it seemed we were the only foreigners there we were surprised, and delighted that there was English. The menu featured a lot of lamb dishes and some exotic items like braised camel’s feet. We chose a lamb and onion dish, some meat pockets, which were a lot like what a Mongolian friend would make, and Xinjiang vegetables, which turned out to be potatoes in a spicy sauce.

The food was fine, but not spectacular. Our tab came to 62 rmb (so less than $10 USD). The decor was Central Asian with a touch of Russian.

I think we should have followed Eileen’s advice and gotten the “polou rice.” I was just delighted that we found a place off the beaten path. I’d definitely try another provincial restaurant and possibly go back to this one if a friend was eager. It was easy to get a cab back to the city center.

(Tip – If you don’t speak Chinese, just say Tienanmen or Wangfujing and you’ll get to a place where you’re likely to find something to do or hop on the subway.)

Advertisements

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh

freshly baked

freshly baked

fresh duck for sale

fresh duck for sale

Fresh veggies in Cambodia

Fresh veggies in Cambodia

Fresh coffee

Fresh coffee at the Blue Pumpkin, Phnom Penh

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other great photos:

Why I’m Not the Least Bit Hungry

For Thanksgiving a number of us went to the Hyatt Hotel in Jinan where we feasted on: turkey, cranberry, rabbit, beef, ham, beef stew, carrots, Brussels sprouts cooked with bacon, corn,  fish, prawns, clams, caviar, three kinds of cheese, paté, an assortment of breads, sushi, pizza, mini hamburgers, pumpkin soup, salad, and hot pot. I did not try everything, but most everything was scrumptious.

DSCN8820

For dessert there was ice cream, six flavors including pumpkin, which I’m told was delicious, pumpkin pudding, which I’ll say was outstanding, pecan pie, tiramisu, chocolate mousse, Napoleons, panna cota, pumpkin pie, which disappointed, peanut-chocolate brownies, mango cake, chocolate chip cookies, egg tarts, crepes, waffles, cupcakes that looked like turkeys, and fruit.

Time to exercise.

Shandong Asparagus

(Liang Ban Lu-Sun)

SERVES 2 – 4

A specialty of Shandong province, this dish is traditionally reserved for banquets because asparagus is so expensive in China. But in the United States, when the price comes down in summer, take advantage of this flavorful dish.

1 1⁄2 lbs. asparagus, trimmed and cut crosswise on the
diagonal into 2″ pieces
1 tbsp. Japanese reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. Asian sesame oil
2 drops red chile oil
1⁄2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add asparagus to pot and cook until tender-crisp and bright green, 1 1/2–2 minutes. Do not overcook. Drain, then immediately plunge into a large bowl of ice water; set aside to cool, 2–3 minutes. Drain again, then transfer to paper towels, pat dry, and set aside.

2. Whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, and chile oil in a medium bowl. Add asparagus and toss. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with sesame seeds.

*I never had this in Shandong, but it is tasty and easy to make. For something even easier, just use a Chinese sesame store bought dressing.

Source: Saveur Magazine Online

Yesterday’s Banquet

Impressive

China is a food culture. Period. End of story. People mark the beginning of the school year, or any venture, I gather, with a banquet.

Yesterday our American school treated us to a sumptuous luncheon. I soon lost track of the number of courses we had. That’s easy to do at one of these affairs in China.

Elegance

Fatty Pork

One of my new colleagues had the good fortune of celebrating a birthday yesterday so we got to finish off the meal with a beautiful cake. What I like about Asian baked goods is they aren’t too rich or too sweet.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I think even a Chinese person who lives to be 100 would never eat all the dishes available just in our region, Shandong. One thing that isn’t poorly made in China is the food.