Not too far from our house is a shopping centre called Da Mu Zher – which Justin and I refer to as the “DMZ”. It has a relatively decent grocery store, some clothing stores, a Starbucks, and a few restaurants to chose from. In fact, we can pick from Chinese, Korean, Western, Japanese, or a number of other food options. There is even a Papa John’s and a Subway so we really do have a good selection to chose from. We were even more happy when the centre opened a cafeteria style area on the ground floor. It is really clean, well-organise, and comfortable (with big comfy couches on the upper level where we usually sit).
As soon as you enter, you purchase a card with preloaded credit on it. You are free to decide how much credit you want to put on the card, and once you are done, you are refunded the balance, so there is no money lost. With your card in hand, you then make your way around, stopping to pick up whatever dishes look most appealing to you. The servers swipe your card to deduct the value of whatever food item you placed onto your tray. There are more options than we have had time to try, but so far everything that we have tried has been really delicious!
Being completely obsessed with Korean food, I often get the Kimchi Jjigae (spicy cabbage stew) and some odang (fish cakes in a tasty broth) from the Korean counter. Unfortunately, I don’t think that these meals are made by Koreans though because some of them are not quite as good as they should be, but they still hit the spot when I’m hungering for some Korean food! Those years in Korea have made me quite picky when it comes to good vs bad kimchi.
This is one of Justin’s regular go-to combinations – rice, meatballs, shredded potato (kind of like a huge hash brown), and Yu Xiang Rou Shi (Fish flavoured shredded pork with vegetables). Although we do, from time to time, enjoy other foods here, we mostly go for the mala tang which we gave a description of in a previous blog post – Street Food: Mala Tang.
At first it may seem intimidating, but malatang is pretty simple to “order”: Grab a bowl and some tongs, go to the fridge (pictured above), fill your bowl with whatever you want in your soup (meat, veggies, noodles, etc), and then take it to the counter to get your card swiped. Each category of skewers have a different value, but pretty much everything is dirt cheap. Most veggie skewers are 1 yuan ($0.16), eggs and meat are about 2-3 yuan per stick. The ingredients are then thrown into a spicy/ non-spicy broth – your choice – and cooked into a delicious soup while you you wait. Once your number is called, you return to the counter to pick up your soup.
Above you can see my soup (the first one) – I definitely like the eggs and seafood things, and a good amount of greens. Although you can’t see it in the picture, there are three handfuls of various greens under my broth. Justin is a meat and potatoes kind go guy, so he sticks to that combination with some noodles thrown in to make it more filling. This meal is HUGE and we are always stuffed once we are done. It comes with a side of peanut sauce for dipping your meat or vegetables into for extra flavour. We pay a total of no more than about 40 yuan ($6.50) to both eat this very tasty, satisfying meal.
I know we love talking about food, but how could we not. Everything about living over here in China is so different, and we want to share all those details with you. Especially the food since we both love food soooo much! We have been slacking a bit on the blog post updates, but don’t worry, we have tons of them lined up. We just need to find the time to get them completed and posted. It’s been a busy few months, but things should settled down soon.