dishesandplaces

Archive for November, 2011|Monthly archive page

finally, peking duck in peking

In places on November 12, 2011 at 2:44 pm

it took a year of planning and a lot of research to decide where to have duck. for food lovers like us, it was a very important decision. we knew we didn’t want the obvious tourist places quanjude and da dong. the duck from made in china at the beijing hyatt was very well reviewed but somehow swanky hotel just wasn’t us.

we decided on hua’s restaurant (huajia yiyuan) – a place acclaimed for its seafood, but also said to be using an old imperial duck recipe with a good array of condiments. so on our first dinner, after visiting the forbidden city and tianamen square, it was time for duck.

the restaurant was very nice. quiet, pleasant. courtyard style. and the duck? crisp, flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth awesomeness. even with all the anticipation we were not let down.

we had a half duck for 118 RMB (P800) and that came with a full suite of condiments and unlimited wrap. most restaurants have cucumber and something, but this place added pineapple, melon, and a few other things we honestly couldn’t identify

needless to say, we ate it all. sheer bliss.

to make sure our palates stayed nice and sharp, we also had hot and sour soup (28 RMB, P190) a bowl

the balance of hot and sour was perfect. but they also had an herb which made it bolder, gave it a fuller mouthfeel. a taste we haven’t encountered here at home. and this was the first indication we had that chinese food here was quite different from there.

after tasting peking duck in peking we now constantly dream of it. a true gastronomic delight.

and we highly recommend hua’s restaurant for this transcendent experience.

beijing downtown backpackers hostel. two thumbs (and all fingers) up

In places on November 10, 2011 at 12:18 pm

we took a lot of time planning our beijing trip. deciding where to have duck, slowly accumulating fall clothes… but the one thing we were sure of was where to stay. camille had been to the beijing downtown backpackers hostel before and was totally charmed. and once we arrived a few weeks ago, i totally understood and fell in love with the place.

the hostel is located on the most charming street in a beijing hutong. it’s full of restaurants and bars and shops giving off a very vibrant, artsy vibe.

the hostel is a 5 minute walk to the bus station (numbers 107, 124, 210, 635) and 15 minutes from the subway. really easy to commute around beijing from here. and transport fare is very cheap. a bus ride is 1 RMB (P7) and the subway is 2 RMB (P14). almost all the major sites are right by a subway stop.

the staff is very friendly and competent, equipping you with essential maps and things to get you going around the city. there’s a common room with a TV and DVD player and some books. a billiards room. wifi and computers. and, what we loved, tsingtao beer for only 4 RMB (P28).

our room was a suite room with a queen bed and its own bathroom. very roomy. great value for P320 RMB (P2,100) a night. the room comes with a free breakfast

very basic, but enough fuel for the morning walks around the sites.

we can’t rave about this place enough. sure it wasn’t luxury accommodations, but it was clean and comfortable, efficient, and had all the facilities we needed.

we’re already planning our next trip (maybe next year), and for sure this is the place we will again call home in beijing