July 22, 2011

China, China Part deux

Aside from Tobogganing at the Great Wall of China, there are other things I recommend you do when you visit this great country.  One of which is eating at Dadong

With several branches across Beijing, one can not miss this restaurant.  One reason is the crowd.  My friends and I went early evening after a 3day reservation.  A few people were already in line to order and taste their famous Beijing duck, more popularly known as the Peking duck.  In the middle of the restaurant was an elevated area, the four corners of which stood brick ovens, and right smack on the middle of it was the hanging rack.  Right there in front of all its guests, the chefs would put duck after duck inside each oven.  Once cooked, the duck is pulled out by a long metal stick and hanged on the rack for oil dripping purposes. 
After which it is wiped down,  beak removed and served to the customers.  I tell you, having tasted Peking duck many times over, this was the best I have ever had.  The Duck was moist and very tasty.  Served with the wrap and several condiments, you can have it any way you want.  Plus, should the guest agree, they stew the bones for soup, though that I didn’t like at all.  Stick to the duck and your foodie spirit will be very happy indeed.

Another place to visit is the YASHOW market.  This is China’s version of our Greenhills tiangge.  A building packed with stalls full of bags, clothes and what have you.  Fakes abound of course but buying is in your discretion.  What I liked most about the place is the extreme bargaining.  Clothes, overruns of famous labels, can cost just 10% of its retail price.

Tip though, you have to be willing to walk away after naming your price.  Normally, the salesladies would run after you anyway.  Also try to appear disinterested.  Do not show excitement as they may just jack up the price.   My friend bought a beautiful short dress which originally was being sold for 350RMB.  In the end, after bargaining for 5minutes, she gave it for just 50RMB.  So if the salesperson refuses to give it at your price, stick to your guns, turn around and walk away.  Remember, with the number of stalls in Yashow, there’s bound to be a few selling the exact same items.
You can also go to the Qianmen Dajie.  Much like LA’s The Grove or the local BGC, this place is a 500 year old shopping area which the Chinese government renovated before the 2008 Beijing olympics.  Walking the long street takes a couple of hours what with stops at the many stores lining it. 
Local and foreign stores sit side by side. The facades of these are classic Chinese yet modernized. There are also souvenir stores which surprisingly have reasonably priced items.  If you get hungry there are several stalls selling candied fruits.  My choice?  Candied grapes.  Try not to get the candied sweet potatoes though.  It’s just not as good.

Do not miss the ever popular Tiananmen Square, Hutongs, Forbidden city and the Olympic sites especially the bird’s nest, the lights of which are still a sight to behold.  Overall Beijing was a fun experience.  Before going though perhaps you can download some Chinese language applications with audio options on your phone.  English is still not widely spoken there so this may help you, especially when ordering food.

Happy trip!

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