As quintessentially Beijing as the Forbidden City, tanghulu
combine two things we Beijinger’s love: Chinese hawthorn berries and sugar. The hawthorn, a crabapple-like fruit with the texture of a ripe apple and the flavour of a sour strawberry, is taken to the next level with a thin coating of molten caster sugar.
A popular import from Taiwan, shouzhuabing
combine a flakey savoury pastry with fermented soy sauce, chilli paste, shredded potatoes, lettuce, onions, a fried egg and your choice of meat. It’s like a burrito in a way, although the spiral-kneaded flatbread affords a much more satisfying crunch than a tortilla. The flatbreads are not made to order, so getting a fresh one takes some planning – make sure you go for shouzhuabing
during peak meal hours or in the early morning to avoid getting a stale one.
Price 7-10RMB Time Peak meal times
Youtiao doujiang 油条豆浆
The classic Beijing breakfast pairing is fried dough and soy beans. Youtiao
, literally ‘oil stick’, are wheaten strips that are deep-fried in hot oil until puffy, golden and undeniably delicious. Straight from the oil, it’s hard to imagine dampening the flavour of the salty-sweet layers of chewy dough, but Beijingers take their youtiao
with fresh soy milk, doujiang
. It’s kind of like the hutong version of a coffee and doughnut – so much so that the name youtiao doujiang
is a byword for breakfast (and a euphemism for a morning quickie, but you didn’t hear that from us).
Price 2-4RMB per 500g; 2-5RMB per bowl. Time Early morning
Kao leng mian 烤冷面
Kao leng mian
, or grilled cold noodles, is a lowbrow delicacy from the northern province of Heilongjiang. More of a pan-fried tamale than a noodle dish in the conventional sense, a thin sheet of uncut wheaten noodles is fried with a beaten egg and topped with sautéed onions and a dry spice mix before being supplemented with a protein such as a mega-processed hotdog (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!). Rolled up and sliced, kao leng mian
has more texture and a greater depth of flavour than its closest relative, the jianbing
Price 5-10RMB per serving Time Midday to late
is a street food staple from Shaanxi province. Slow-cooked pork belly and trimmings are finely chopped and wedged into a cracked 'mo
', or small circular bread. The tough bread is softened by the absorbed juices and a dash of vinegar. Fresh peppers (qingjiao
, 青椒) cut through the cloying fat and allow the spices and natural porky richness to come through.
Price 6-8RMB for lean (shourou, 瘦肉); 8-10RMB for fatty (feirou, 肥肉) Time Anytime pork is cooking (aka 24/7)