Friday, August 1, 2008

Nine Doors, The Easier To Run Away

A coworker told us that we can find old Beijing food in a food street set in a traditional courtyard called "Jiu Men Xiao Chi" (九门小吃). Since our aim in Beijing is to eat, live, tour Beijing, we took note and paid a visit. I couldn't see how different old Beijing food can differ from the current anyway so with an empty stomach, we set forth.

Entrance of the "Jiu Men Xiao Chi" literally translated as "Nine Doors Small Eats"

What an interesting name, I thought. I wondered if there were nine doors to the eatery. It was quite a small street consisting of no more than ten stalls. Business was sparse but I attributed it to the fact that we might have been too early.

"Da Lian Huo Shao" (褡裢火烧), a sort of beef meat pie wrapped by fried sesame crusts

Mung Bean Milk or "Dou Zhi" (豆汁), a favourite drink of the old Beijing folks

I have no idea what this is but for what's it's worth, it looks like the sesame crust coiled around by a fried doughstick atop of flaky pastries.

An array of dubious fried food and cardboard-like crusts. Like the eggs placer.

Year cake or "Nian Gao" (年糕). This one looks soft and chewy though.

Our first breakfast in Beijing. Well-anticipated but less than well-received. From top left: fish in soy sauce, shaved goat's head meat (yes you heard right), beef meat pie and goat's milk.

Unfortunately I think whoever recommended this place to Eileen and I had it bad for us. It was a strange and awkward meal with many a deliberate chewing and occasional hurummmms of uncertainty. Eileen watched a Taiwanese food show and excitedly ordered shaved goat's head meat on impulse (or so I would like to believe). The stall owner lifted a decapitated goat's head onto his chopping board and started shaving pieces of meat off its ears. Its very dead eyes were boring into mine. I'll never touch it, I declared but all the same, I was coerced into trying and I swear I'll never eat it again. It was cold, crunchy, salty and had a strong smell to it. In fact, all the food were cold and seemed like leftovers. The best of the lot had to be the meat pies since the sesame crusts were warm and vaguely gave a semblance of normality. We left most of our food untouched which was a real pity but we just could not stomach it.

Candied haw/fruits in sticks or "Bing Tang Hu Lu" (糖葫芦). I tried the candied peaches and the flavours and the juice were wonderfully retained, sending you into a sugary high.

To conclude, old Beijing food has been around from the olden days and they are worth a try just because they gave us the idea what people used to eat and this is from my most diplomatic point of view.

"Nine Doors Small Eats" does need the nine doors ... for me to run away from in a hurry!

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posted by The Merry Traveller at


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