One thing about the back end of the Forbidden City, where you exit, there are no subway stations. There were hordes of taxi drivers and rickshaw pullers harassing me to take their transport. Not to mention too, the other people who were selling all sort of souvenirs. Gosh. They were all so persistent despite me saying repeatedly “Bu Yao” (don’t want).
So I kept walking. I was afraid of getting fleeced. I kind of regret walking too because it is so far from where I wanted to go. On the map, Wangfujing seems like a short walking distance but it was not! So it was quite a tiring walk after all the walking in the Forbidden City.
I wanted to go to Wangfujing for something to eat before I head back to the hotel. I actually wanted to go to Wangfujing to see for myself the famous snack street where they sell scorpions and insects.
On the way there, I saw something really funny. All around the Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City are soldiers in military uniforms. They are always standing in attention or when they walk they will march. On the way to Wangfujing, I saw four soldiers “jaymarching” across the street!
The soldiers were marching in formation across the wide 8 lane road, stopping in between traffic waiting for an opening before marching forward again.
Anyway, these soldiers all looked very young and so clean cut. It is like they are fresh out of school or something.
It must have taken me 20-30 minutes of walk. My bag was killing me. It was because … I carried two extra heavy lens. And I never took them out all the time. I told myself that I should just use the wide angle lens next time. I should also have spent that few dollars taking a cab there.
As I neared Wangfujing, I could immediately see the row of stalls.
There were a lot more stalls than I imagine it to be. The good thing is that all have prices displayed and their dishes in English too. I did not even bother to read the names of the dishes. All the food were right out there for all to see.
Actually, there were a lot of repetitions in the stalls. Yeah, they were selling almost the same thing. After a short while, it got quite boring. I decided to not buy anything first but took a walk all the way to the end.
Oh the scorpions and insects and maggots and stuff like that … well, they are all there. I talked with the local folks at work about wanting to come here for the insects. They laughed at me and told me that those are created for foreigners. LOL! I wasn’t in the mood for insects anyway. Oh … I did not realize that I did not even take a single picture of the insects.
Oh well …
I was darn thirsty and they don’t have much in terms of iced drink. I am not sure why. Since Beijing is such a hot city, I would figure they would have a lot of stalls that sells drinks but no.
The closest to anything cold and thirst quenching I found was the jelly above. It was slightly sweet and slightly cold. But it barely quench my thirst at all.
One thing about the snack street was that everyone eats standing up. There are no tables or chairs. Some people will crowd around the stall eating them.
The most popular stall was the one above. They have lots of local customers and selling Gou Qiao noodles (crossing bridge noodles) which I think is a Yunnan style noodle. I tried to order but I kept getting cut off by the locals.
I was so determined to order this despite me not knowing what to order (there were several types of noodles) but alas it was not meant to be. I gave up because the lone man who was manning the stall is not gonna be aware I was there because the locals were more aggressive than I was.
So I ended up getting the beef tripe. It looked great. I think it was 10 RMB ($1.60 Canadian) only.
While the tripe was great, the soup was too salty for me.
It was getting too hot and my feet were killing me. I had enough of the snack street. I find this is quite overrated. So I headed across the street to a noodle shop where they have air-conditioning and a comfortable place to enjoy my food.
With my limited Chinese, I ended with the dish above. All I remember was asking for the #1 combo on the signboard and they asked me a bunched of questions which i barely understood. The only thing I knew how to answer was “la mian” which I knew is hand pulled noodles because the girl at the counter was doing that noodle pulling motion.
Whatever it is, it was great. Everything about it was just perfect. The soup was flavourful and has that richness that I can’t quite pinpoint. I saw big chunks of beef bones on display which tells me where the flavour of the soup was from.
Beijing restaurants do not usually give you soup spoons with soup noodles. People here will drink the soup from the bowl. It took a while for me to get used to because it felt so “villagey”. But after a few days I was happily slurping soup directly from the bowl.
I think I said it before but I’ll say it again. I had not come across noodles that are no good in Beijing. For some reason their noodles beat whatever we had in Vancouver. In many places I go to, I see that they manually hand pull the noodles … whether it is in a food court or in a stall or in a restaurant.
These noodles in Malan was also hand pulled as I can see them doing it in the kitchen. They also have a lot of noodles in the bowl. It was like double the amount we are used to in Vancouver.
The marinated eggs was equally awesome too. Can you see how much the marinate permeates the egg white? If only I was brave enough to ask, I would have asked them for an extra egg.
This bowl of noodles is just 22 Yuan (less than $4.00 Canadian) and it came with a drink too.
Anyway, I was so tired by then all I wanted to do was to go back to the hotel. It was a memorable Saturday. I queued to look at Chairman Mao lying in state. I went to the Zhengyangmen and most important of all, I finally got to explore the imperial palaces of the Forbidden City.
What a day!