We took another trip to Beijing this weekend. It was fantastic, and we can’t wait to share our Color Run pictures with you! I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun we had. Every time we go away somewhere together, we are reminded how much we love traveling. More so, how much we love traveling with each other. We just have so much fun!
Breakfast sure is different over here in Asia. We have adapted, but nothing could ever replace our love of eggs, bacon, toast, and all the sides that we are used to. However being budget-conscious we know that eating that way while living in China is not a wise financial move. If you are moving to China, you might as well learn how to eat cheap because this is one of the advantages of living here.
Breakfast food booths
On Sunday morning we packed up our backpacks and checked out of our hotel. We have learned to travel light so it was no problem to carry our bags around for the rest of the day. Even with the humid (more so than Qingdao) Beijing air, we were happy to explore and carry our stuff with us. That way we could wander as far as we wanted, slowing making our way back to the train station.
First thing to do was find some breakfast.
The first option we came across – the smell of which caught our attention – was these FRIED BREAD STICKS! Hmmm… Who can resist the smell of dough frying?! Well, we can, and we did. Although we would love to eat one of these every morning, or at least once a week, we both know that this would not be good for our waistlines! Still, don’t they look good….
Fried bread sticks, aka Youtiao, are a famous breakfast dessert in China. They are crisp on the outside and soft and doughy on the inside, and can be eaten at anytime of the day, but we mostly see it being sold in the mornings near bus stops and other busy areas. My students tell me that they enjoy this style of bread torn up and mixed with soybean milk.
A couple of meters away we found a few boazi restaurants in a row, and even though this is once again a form of bread, we decided to have a few of them to curb our grumbling bellies. It is challenging to find a bread-free alternative that is cheap and filling. This little restaurant had dirty floors and messy tables, but the people who worked there were incredibly sweet so we were happy to have stopped here.
First bite for the day: Some steaming hot Boazi
Boazi are a type of steamed, filled bun or bread-like item. There are a huge variety of filling that you can order, including vegetables and meat, and we enjoy them all. A small ceramic dish is provided for vinegar or soy sauce, both of which are available in bottles at the table, along with chilli paste.
Pork filled Boazi
Another very popular snack in Beijing is Jianbing, and like the fried bread sticks mentioned earlier, these smell amazing! Jianbing is a traditional snack/ meal often eaten for breakfast. It consists of a crêpe made from a batter that is fried on a griddle with an egg and can be topped with scallions, baocui (crispy fried dough) and cilantro. It can be thick, thin, crisy or chewy, but it’s almost always folded several times before serving.
Beijing jianbing is similar to the smaller crepes also sold all over China. As you can see above, the motorised cooking plate speeds up the process for the larger crepes. The red sauces are red tofu bean curd sauce and chili sauce. The spicy bite is a great addition to this snack.
There was one more thing I had to try for breakfast, and that was “Old Yogurt”. In my research into Chinese streetfoods, I came across this yogurt many times. This sparked my interest to try it… Even if it might be a bit gross.
Beijing yogurt is considered a speciality of Beijing and is readily available at almost every corner. The ceramic yogurt containers are all over the place, especially in the hutongs (narrow streets or alleys) of Beijing. Unlike ordinary westernised yogurt, which should be fermented and stirred before filling, old yogurt is a kind of set yogurt that should be placed into containers and sealed with semi-finished fresh milk before fermenting. Because of the old production processes, it is called “old yogurt”.
Currently prices for Beijing yogurt are around 5 yuan. There are two options for consuming old Beijing yogurt. You can drink it with a straw at room temperature or slightly refrigerated. I opted for the colder version since we were already dripping with sweat.
My verdict? Yummy ~ I enjoyed it!
If you like greek yogurt, you will enjoy Beijing yogurt. The consistency is not too watery (like most Chinese yogurts), and it is slightly sweetened but tart at the same time. We sat outside the store to drink the yogurt because you have to return the cute little ceramic yogurt bottle to the store to get your 2 yuan deposit back.
We may not be able to find cheap western style breakfasts here, but there is plenty to try if you are willing to step out of your comfort zone a little.