Working in Beijing


Hi Honey:

The first two days of work was grueling. There were so many agenda items to cover and there are a lot of missing information that it was a lot of to and fro on issues. It is to be expected since the teams met for the first time. Both parties have their own interests and goals and so we just need to take one issue at a time and work through every one of them.

Cultural differences is in the way a little bit but not too much. It is the language fluency that is something most of us struggled with. I felt the Chinese had difficulties in expressing themselves in English but they sure are experts in their field. I am actually impressed with their technical knowledge of the subject matter.

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My mornings started with breakfast at the 24th Floor Club. I’ll tell you more about the 24th Floor later. There is a very nice view from the Club and I almost always sat at the same spot that faces the CCTV Tower. Look at the traffic jams below. There is a jam every peak hour.

We took a taxi ride to the office which is quite a bit of distance from where I am staying. On a good day, the journey takes 25 minutes but mostly it is 40-45 minutes because of the traffic.

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We always drive past the CCTV building everyday. See that building next to the CCTV building? Well, that whole building burnt down and they are in the process of rebuilding it.

It is both sad and hilarious. You see … the building burnt down when they installed fireworks on the outside of the building for some celebration (was it the Olympics?). Something went wrong and it resulted in a fire that burned the whole building down. It must be the most expensive fireworks display in all of history.

I wonder what the Project Manager in charge of the fireworks has to say when the accident happened. LOL!

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On Monday, I went to the Xiabu-Xiabu place in the Viva Shopping Complex just around the corner from my hotel. This was a delightful hot pot restaurant.

Too bad they did not allow me to take pictures inside.

The hot pot here are individual hotpots. You sit on a high chair along the counter. As normal, you order the ingredients, soup base and side dishes you want and they will bring it to you. Alternatively you can get their set items which they pre-pick the items if you don’t want to think too much. I ordered the pre-picked set and got the most expensive one. It is still just less then $10 Canadian.

There were too much food and I simply could not finish them all. I think you will like the dipping sauce. It is sesame and they gave that to you in a packet. You can get as many as you want because they gave me another packet when they saw my dipping sauce was running low. I mix that dipping sauce with lots of cilantro and raw minced garlic. Super.

The broth I got was the ma-la one (numbing and spicy). Apparently not many people drink the broth because they don’t give us spoons. I bet you will ask them for one knowing how much you like soup.

It was kind of weird sitting next to strangers. The girl who sat next to me obviously can see that I am a newbie at this and show me a few things. Like controlling the heat and all. I would love to chat a lot more with her but she doesn’t speak English and my Mandarin is frustratingly hard to understand. It is like a duck talking to a chicken. That sort of thing.

On the way back to the hotel, I was accosted twice by people. I guess I was in my office wear and I stood out. There was a person who tried to talk to me but I told him “I don’t understand Chinese” in English and he left me alone. Then a young couple stopped me. I told them the same thing but they spoke English! They told me they were from out of province looking for a job and is hungry. They asked me for bread at least. I told them I was sorry I can’t help. They were quite persistent but I kept walking.

So the next time I go out for lunch, I dressed like the masses.

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I can’t remember now who recommended this place called Kung Fu. I saw a Kung Fu restaurant near the hotel and so I decided to take a 10 minute walk to it for dinner on Tuesday.

It is easy to locate it. All you have to look for is the picture of Bruce Lee. The colors are a mix of McDonalds and KFC. 🙂

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There are Bruce Lee’s logo everywhere. Hey, I wonder if someone is holding the rights to Bruce Lee’s image or brand. You know, like if the person is dead whether someone could register the brand.

Anyway, the whole modus operandi of KungFu is like McDonalds. There is a counter you order off from the board, with “value meals” or individual items. There are like chicken and rice, pork and rice, etc. There are also soup and other side orders.

In Beijing, I find that I could get by a lot better speaking in English than in Mandarin. When I used Mandarin, I end up speaking baby Mandarin and can understand only partly of what they say. Now, if I use English, I get a certain higher level of respect and service. I think they know I am a foreigner if I speak English.

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Believe it or not. The above is just $4.00 Canadian. It is a complete meal — rice, meat, veggie and soup. Even though this is a fast food restaurant, they don’t speak English. A customer helped in translating what I wanted.

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Going by the pictures of the board, I just got the #1 item — which I figured is their Big Mac equivalent and the most popular item. It is pork ribs with jhup. It looks like a lot of meat doesn’t it. Although it is still a lot of meat and jhup, the bowl it is served in has a bulge in the middle. So, don’t think it is what it looked like.

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The order came with the side order above. This was nothing spectacular.

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I love the rice. They are steamed individually in their own container … loose grain and not sticky, just like the way we make it at home.

Hi all, Suanne steams rice at home. If she is hard pressed for time she will microwave the rice. We don’t use the rice cooker anymore. Steaming rice makes perfect rice and once cooked, it stands on its ends. Have you ever tried steaming rice?

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Actually I was not too hungry as I had quite heavy lunch at work already. Our business partner brought us out for Chinese lunch everyday. Once they brought us to a really nice Sichuan restaurant in a private room complete with TVs and sofas. Too bad they did not order the really spicy stuff because our American team would find it too hot. Still the food was good. The other time, our business partner brought us to the restaurant in the building. I am impressed with their cafeteria. There is a section for the “hjap fun” type and there is a full service section where you order dishes. The food was pretty good too. So far I have not come across anything I did not like at all.

Anyway, back to my jhup and rice above. Although I was not hungry, I like this so much that I finished this off. I know you will like this too. Yeah, next time when you are here, I will bring you to a Kung Fu restaurant for sure.

When I told my team members that I spent $4.00 for this meal they were telling me “Oh, so you are saving the company money huh?” They can’t understand me and I don’t want to explain. I know it is crazy to stay in a $300 a night hotel and then spend $4 for dinner. But … but … but … I am in Beijing. I don’t want to eat in fancy western restaurants with wine and such. I want to eat like a Beijinger.

Am I stupid or what? 🙂

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Oh I also had a bowl of soup. Not knowing what is what, I just asked for Chicken Soup.

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Nice. They even use silken chicken for the soup. Isn’t it such a great deal? Just $4. Amazing!

35 thoughts on “Working in Beijing

  1. Oh this place has quite a few locations in Beijing I think. This is their website: http://www.wskqy.com/

    Not sure which one is closer to you, but here are a few of their branches:

    交大总店 (Main Branch)
    address:海淀区交大东路46号 (Haidian district Jiaoda Donglu #46)
    tel: 010-51562760

    民族大学店
    address:海淀区魏公村民族大学北路16号 (Haidian district Weigongcun Minzudaxue Beilu #16)
    tel: 010-68417169

    牡丹园店
    address:海淀区花园路翠微百货牡丹美食街 (Haidian district Huayuanlu Cuiweibaihuo Mudan Meishijie)
    tel:010-62378953

    魏公村店
    address:海淀区魏公村民族大学北路8号 (Haidian district Weigongcun Minzudaxue Beilu #8)
    tel:010-88570500

  2. I second the “Jiang Bian Cheng Wai Wu Shan Kao Quan Yu(江边城外巫山烤全鱼).” That place is awesome, and the line-up is always extremely long. They can roast fish like no other. ^^

  3. Defenitely KFC has good egg tarts,But the Chicken Congee is not bad for breakfast.Bit of trivia KFC earns more in China then the USA

  4. kung fu is such a wicked fast food alternative in china.
    i almost always choose that over mcD’s but china mcD’s is really good!!! REALLLLY GOOD! hahaha

    • Oh? Is McDonalds good in China. I went there only for coffee and sundaes to cool down. Maybe I’ll pick up a burger to try. Actually after so many days of Chinese food, am craving for burgers! 🙂 Ben

      • Yes, yes, yes. Had KFC egg tarts in Vietnam and Taiwan. They are *really good*, in the “Portuguese” style. Were always fresh and hot, too.

        Now, granted Beijing has so much good food you might not get around to these, but… I had to second the motion for their excellentness. 🙂

  5. some places i recommended last time are not the right places for real meal,u can go there by yourself for breakfast or quick lunch, they has one particular outstanding food, and the got name for it.(except
    大槐树烤肉馆-BBQ
    豆花香辣蟹-spciy crab
    天福号-homesense dishes)
    So i make a list of the restaurant that u can really dine out for dinner with friends an workers.
    Fish hot pot, u can’t miss, unless u don’t like spicy
    三只耳冷锅鱼
    朝阳区工体北路新中西里26号(东四十条桥东)
    010-64132228

    Place for normal food.
    四季民福
    东城区灯市口西街32号东华饭店1楼
    010-65135141

    Service is so good, they even provide nail polish for the waiting customers. It’s a chain hot pot restaurant.
    海底捞火锅
    西城区西单北大街109号西单婚庆大楼7楼(西单商场对面)
    010-66174063

    Like its environment, and it offers royal dished(from qing dynasty). Price is not bad.
    那家小馆(永安里店)
    朝阳区建国门外永安里10号(新华保险大厦南侧
    010-65673663

    Another small restaurant have some creative dishes, like their curry which serves with bread and blueberry tomato salad.
    印巷小馆(鼓楼店)
    西城区钟楼湾胡同11号(近豆腐池胡同)
    010-84050818

    It’s very popular among young people, try their pizza, it’s so different and taste so good.
    过客(Passby Bar)
    东城区南锣鼓巷108号
    010-84038004

    It located at Beijing traditional Siheyuan, so the atmosphere is pretty unique and most important, the food is good. U can enjoy some simple local dishes here with low price.
    珍巷福地四合院菜馆
    西城区文华胡同51号
    010-66016049

    Ben, let’s try some good things. I wish i can go back to China right now.

    • Hi leah: Oh thank you so much for these places. Too bad am not able to go to any of these for various reasons. After a long sightseeing day, I am so tired that I just eat nearby which is already good enough for me. This will come in very handy the next time I come to Beijing with Suanne. 🙂 Ben

      • Hey Ben,

        I asked a friend of mine in Beijing for suggestions earlier in your visit, but he basically agreed that Leah’s list was already pretty good and could keep you busy for your whole trip. He thought the main thing would be that ideally you would benedit from having someone to take you to these places and help you order the “right” things. But, yeah, I guess the other challenge is being too tired to make each meal a “destination” meal. 🙂

  6. Ben can always invite the “starving and jobless” perfect english speaking people to share a duck with him 🙂

  7. Yes,i think u can order half duck. I know Quan Ju De have a set meal(maybe it just offer at Qian Men)for 2 people or 3 people. I’m not sure about Da Dong(东城区东四十条甲22号南新仓商务大厦1-2楼(东四十条桥西南), but most of the resteruant do.
    If u want to go somewhere for beijing’s traditional bakery, try “Dao Xiang Cun(稻香村)”, i’m sure u can find it around where u live,it’s quite popular.
    “Jiang Bian Cheng Wai Wu Shan Kao Quan Yu(江边城外巫山烤全鱼)” is also an awesome resteruant that u can’t miss. Their roast whole fish is the best and the price is quite reasonable even for chinese people. Dong Zhi Men Nei Da Jie no.15 might be the easier one to find.

    Here is the list of spots that i love, hope it can helo u try more local stuff but not fast food like “Zhen Kung Fu”:
    -Hu Guo Si Xiao Chi
    护国寺小吃
    -Wen Yu Nai Lao (No.48 South Luogu Alley Dongcheng, 010-64057621)
    文宇奶酪
    -Tian Fu Hao (No.213,Xizhimen Inner Street, Xicheng)
    天福号 西城区西直门内大街213号(北草厂口)010-62252361
    -Wang Pang Zi Lv Rou Huo Shao(No.92,Dong Si Bei Da Jie, Dongcheng)
    王胖子驴肉火烧 东城区东四北大街92号(
    -Bao Du Huang (No.15,Dong Zhi Men Wai Da Jie ,Dongcheng)
    爆肚皇 东城区东直门外大街15号楼4-101号 010-64614659
    -Long Xing Ming You Xiao Chi
    隆兴盛名优小吃
    -Da Huai Shu Kao Rou Guan
    大槐树烤肉馆 东城区美术馆东街23号
    -Feng Nian Guan Chang
    丰年灌肠
    -Dou Hua Xiang La Xie
    豆花香辣蟹 东城区东四西大街大豆腐巷46号

    • Hi Leah: This list is so awesome! The only way I could get to these places is by taxis and I have my fair share of problems with them. All of them does not speak English at all. Now I gotta figure out how to print the addresses of yours out. Ben

  8. hi,are u still working in Beijing? u need to try 大董烤鸭店 (dadong roast duck resturant) even though it’s pricy but it worth it, their roast ducks are different from anyone else~
    they locate at a lot of place
    China Beijing Dongcheng Dongsi 10th Alley东四十条甲22号南新仓国际大厦1-2层
    Changhong Bridge, Chaoyang, Beijing, China
    +86 10 6582 4003 ‎

    • Hi Leah: Yeah, the Beijingers I worked with also told me that they prefer Da Dong over Quan Ju De. Oh too bad … I was at Dongsi yesterday (lots of restaurants!) while visiting the Hutongs. I’ll go check out the Da Dong restaurant. I had a “no-brand” duck lunch at work last week but I really need to go eat at Quan Ju De or Da Dong. BTW, I am alone now … how do I eat alone for Peking Duck? Can I order half a duck? A full duck is not going to leave me not much room for anything else. Ben

    • Hi Bobo, we use a microwave rice cooker to cook the rice in the microwave. I got mine from a dollar store. Just follow the instruction according to the cooker on the number of cup of rice and water requirement and microwave time.

  9. There are more scams than there are space on here to discuss. I’ve seen people knowingly jump in front of an oncoming car. I’ve seen ladies borrow a child to beg. The child would act sad and cry on cue. It’s funny when the the lady tells the kid to take a break. He would stop crying and rest and then continue later. I think someone already mention there is fake everything from food(sea cucumber, eggs, beef) there certainly is a lot of fake people.
    It’s a different culture and life.

    • Hi timetochow: I think you hit the nail on the head when you said “It’s a different culture and life”. It is different. It is not one is better than another.

  10. Another common scam is to ask you to buy them a meal,they then bring you to a restaurant where they order the most expensive dishes or overpriced food think 100-200$ bill and say they have no money to pay.You then have to pay or goons or PSB show up to beat you up or arrest you.Later on the restaurant owner and fake beggars split the money.You are looked at as another bleeding heart Laowai

  11. When I was younger, I used to ask my parents/relatives for small change if I see seniors or children begging on the streets. However, nowadays I don’t really dare doing that anymore. I know these are organizations forcing these people to beg (and would even break their legs and arms just for the sake of looking for more sympathy), but once you bring out the money, you yourself are at risk. Getting swarmed by mobs is the less serious case. The worst is maybe they know that you have money and will rob you.

  12. Hmm… I acknowledge both of your points of view.

    What were your instincts about the pair, Ben? I travel often to Asia and know both ‘swarming’ and hunger are real problems … If they were truthful, might it have been possible to take them to a restaurant? I think what bothered me was that you made light of their situation with the line about dressing like the masses.

    Moi

    • Hi Moi: It was a judgment call on my part that all of three incidents that happened to me was just a ruse. Two of the times the pairs spoke perfect English. For someone who speaks English in Beijing, I don’t think they need to go hungry. On the way to work today, one of my team member (white American) told me about him being approached too. Anyway, all these were clear cases of someone who is out to beg for easy money. If they are indeed in need, you can rest assure that I will go out of my way to help them. No further words can explain more … I just wish you were here with me and assess it for yourself. Ben.

      • Thanks for your reply, Ben. Details make a difference — ‘Perfect English’ would seem to be a giveaway. I trust your judgement.

  13. Moi Just how much do you know about modern China??,Ben is correct,If you make that mistake you will be swamped by mobs of people.Ben is in China with different rules.In Beijing 3 years ago,One of my companions made that mistake and We got mobbed by 20-25 people.Beggars are in cahoots with the local PSB and generally split the money with the PSB.When in Rome do as the Romans do.

  14. “Then a young couple stopped me. I told them the same thing but they spoke English! They told me they were from out of province looking for a job and is hungry. They asked me for bread at least. I told them I was sorry I can’t help. They were quite persistent but I kept walking.
    So the next time I go out for lunch, I dressed like the masses.”

    As you went on to your next meal, did it ever occur to you that they were really hungry or only about how to evade such requests?

    • Hi Moi: Well, yesterday, two young girls stopped me and told me the same story that they are hungry and needed help too. On of my team members (white American) told me she gave money to one of the mum+kids begging last weekend. It was a mistake because the next she knew it she was swamped with a lot of other people. There are many ways to help people but giving money is not the way. Ben

  15. Love the CCTV building. It’s ao striking and I only drove close by it once so I don’t have a photo.
    It is a funny disparity between your hotel price and your meals when. Your coworkers need to appreciate that food is cheap there and it doesn’t mean it’s crappy. Lucky for you since it’s a business trip you will see the range from “real” food in your own adventures and fancy stuff with the company.
    I didn’t know that was a restaurant the, Kung fu logo! Assumed it was clothing or something and ignored the advertisement I saw. Darn, regretting that now!

  16. You can find the Kung Fu restaurants all over, even in ToySan. My husband is such a Bruce Lee fan he had to have a souvenir and “borrowed” one of their spoons.
    We have been to Beijing several times but always with a tour group. Places where there’s a lengthy line up like the National Museum or inside Mao’s Mausoleum aren’t usually on a tour itinerary. Will have to do it on our own next time.

  17. I got by OK in Chouyang dist. speaking English and seeing this Kung Fu Restaurant could you tell where is it located? Would like to visit it when back in Beijing again. I also would like to visit that hotpot restaurant it seem interesting than the one I had in San Li Tung Snow which was kind of run down looking and not that great in food.

  18. Good for you, Ben, in eating what you want, in spite of what your team thinks. It’s a lot more fun and a more authentic culinary experience to eat like the locals do, even when it’s in a fast food joint. It’s kind of like someone coming to Canada and eating at a Tim Horton’s. You wouldn’t want to eat every meal there, but it’s part of experiencing the local culture.

  19. “Even though this is a fast food restaurant, they don’t speak Chinese. ” should that say english? 🙂 haha

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