Eating like Kings – That is the best way to describe this particular date night. Justin decided to show me a Chinese restaurant that he had previously been to on a work lunch. Initially we had planned to go to one of our favorite spots – Yunnan Cuisine – but alas, they keep changing their menu and much of what we love can no longer be ordered there. It’s a sad state of affairs when you don’t really like a lot of the local cuisine, but fortunately there are quite a few food options here, so we are able to have our pick of many foreign cooking styles. When we find Chinese food that we really enjoy, we are always over the moon since… well, you know, we live in China, and we should probably be eating Chinese food more frequently.
We have noticed that we really enjoy the southern style of Chinese cooking – the flavors and the variety of ingredients. Some issues that we have are not knowing what we are ordering, and size of the meals. Often many of the dishes are quite expensive, and clearly made to be shared by a large table of guests, but with only two of us, we don’t want a limited variety for a high price!
For a date night last week we went to DaMuZher (“Big Thumb Plaza”) which is located in the same road as our old apartment complex. This is a very familiar place to us, so it was nice returning there for coffee, shopping and dinner. Of course, we are two weeks into the year and the Christmas decorations are still all up (Oh China!). We got some lattes, strolled around checking out the sales, and then decided on a restaurant for dinner.
Matching Russian-style winter hats. We found these on sale at H&M, and since Elijah already has one of these, we thought this would be a cute little family fashion statement. Matching your partner (and even your kids) – It’s a pretty big thing over here!
We were excited that not only did this restaurant have an English menu, but we were able to check off the items that we wanted with no pressure of someone standing over us… waiting awkwardly. The prices were all very decent so even though there were no pictures, we chose the things that sounded the best to us, and aimed for a wide variety. That way if some of the dishes were not that great, we would still have plenty to eat. Justin had eaten here before so he had some great recommendations. He thought that he remembered the dishes being small, and we also noticed that we had not spent much, so we added about four extra dishes to what we had already chosen.
We were surprised when the food started arriving, and it was in fact, really decent sized portions. Before long there were about ten portions of food spread out on the table in front of us. Oh my word! We knew that there was no way that we could come close to eating all of this, but it was really nice to try everything.
Below, Spicy Diced Chicken with Peanuts. Amazing! Behind it, to the left, a cold dish consisting of peppered cucumber. And, to the right, the infamous Chinese Sweet and Sour Pork. Always a winner!
Not all the dishes were winners though. Above, Eggplant in Special Sauce. This dish was tasty and the sauce was good, but it came served as a cold dish and we thought that it would have been much nicer if it had been served warm. Below, Steamed Egg with Minced Pork. This dish could really use some improvements. We usually love egg dishes but it was sloshy, and it had barely any minced pork in it at all.
Oh my goodness! This tiny dish was amazing. Dongpo Brasied Pork.
The meat was soft, juicy, and unbelievably tasty! As you can see, below, Justin lifted a piece of it and it just fell apart.
We also ordered Steamed Broccoli, an Egg and Tomato Soup, Baked Baby Potatoes, and Spicy Tofu.
In China the dishes are not all brought out at the same time – which is kind of annoying when you’re not sharing. Instead it comes out in drips and drabs, as it is ready, so the irony was that we were already almost full when the last couple of dishes were still being brought to our table. It was nice to eat slowly and not have to worry about feeding anyone but we missed out little man, so we packed up a few of the foods that we knew he would love and took those home for his lunch the next day.
This was a great date night, and we highly recommend this restaurant to anyone living in Qingdao.
It is located on the second floor in DaMuZher (Big Thumb Plaza) – and it is called Jingnan Cuisine. The atmosphere is cozy, the restaurant is comfortable, and the ordering system is very much “foreigner-friendly” (just check off the names of the foods you want, on an English menu, and the waiter will bring them to you).