A Bite of Beijing Street Snacks
Beijing Quanjude roast duck is a must-be-tasted dish for tourists to Beijing, but when you are strolling the streets of Beijing consider biting into some street snacks. Especially try areas around schools and universities, where you are likely to come across some vendors or small shops selling various street snacks.
Tourists might beadvised to avoid street snacks for reasons of hygiene and palatability. However, street snacks are often the best part of a city’s culinary experience, and each of them only costs you a few yuan.
China Highlights has listed the most popular street snacks and best places to taste them here. Most can be found in Beijing food street.
China Highlights' customizable Beijing tours allow you as much time as you want for tasting Beijing street snacks, after you’ve seen the sights.
Learn how to eat like a local in Beijing with China Highlights.
1. Fried Dough Ring
Chinese name: 焦圈 jiāoquān /jyaoww-chwen/
A fried dough ring looks like a brown bracelet, with a crispy taste and well-cooked fragrance. The main ingredients are flour and salt. It is an ancient snack in Beijing. The locals always eat it with soybean juice, or wrap it in a thin pancake.
Because the production processes of making fried dough rings are too complicated, and the profit is too low, many snack shops do not serve this traditional Beijing street snack, so fried dough ring has been disappearing from Beijing's streets for some time.
The tried dough ring is a high-calorie food, so China Highlights suggests you just try it, and not eat too much.
2. "Street Crepe"
Chinese name: 煎饼馃子 jiānbǐng guǒzī /jyen-bing gwor-dsrr/
The warm fried thin pancake wrap is especially popular for breakfast on cold winter days.
Pouring and spreading the batter on a flat heated surface to form a thin pancake or crepe, pouring on an egg and letting it cook, spreading on a sauce, placing on slices of deep-fried dough stick, sprinkling on some chopped green onion, cumin, and sesame, and finally rolling it into a wrap — that’s the processes of making a fried thin pancake wrap, or street crepe, which takes about four minutes.
The treet crepe oringinated as the most famous snack in Tianjin. However, it has spreaded to many Chinese cities, and is very popular in Beijing, so we can categorize it as a Beijing snack.
It is difficult to find this type of crepe in a restaurant. Only at a street-side stall (in the morning) can you get a fried thin pancake wrap.
3. Fried Triangular Dumpling
Chinese name: 炸三角 zhà sānjiǎo /jaa san-jyaoww/
Fried triangular dumplings have crispy and soft “skin” and stuffed fresh fillings.
The fried triangular dumpling only has two recognized fillings: vegetable or meat. The vegetarian triangular dumpling is always stuffed with minced Chinese chives, carrot, and bean sprouts; and a meat one is always stuffed with minced meat (pork) and vegetables.
The best fried triangular dumplings taste like steamed buns. They should be stuffed with frozen fillings, and then the fillings become soup inside after heating. When eating a fried triangular dumpling, you should slowly make a small hole first for release the steam inside.Steamed triangular dumplings are also available, which might be preferable as they are healthier.
4. Buckwheat Cake
Chinese name: 扒糕 bāgāo /baa-gaoww/
Buckwheat cake is a salty snack especially popular on summer days, when it is always sold together with iced bean jelly. This grey cake is often served in slices, with vinegar, sesame paste, chopped chilies, mustard oil, and a little soy sauce. It tastes sour, spicy, and cool.
Buckwheat food has high nutritional value, but is a heavy food. It is not fsuitable for those with heat disease, the diabetes, or high blood pressure. China Highlights suggests you do not eat too much, but do taste it.
5. Fresh Ground Mung Bean Juice
Chinese name: 豆汁 dòuzhī /doh-jee/
The grayish-green fresh ground mung bean juice tastes slightly sour and sweet. It is more popular in spring and winter. As well as the bean juice, vendors always serve fried dough rings, fried dough twists, and spicy pickles— the most popular snacks eaten with fresh ground bean juice.
The locals in Beijing really appreciate drinking it. But if it is your first time to taste bean juice, you might not get used to its flavor. However, the locals will encourage you that if you push yourself to taste it twice, you will fall in love with it.
6. "Stir-Fried" Pork Liver
Chinese name: 炒肝 chǎogān /chaoww-gan/
Stir-fried pork liver is actually boiled pork liver with stir-fried style taste. The main ingredients include pork liver and pork intestines. The sliced cleaned pork liver and pork intestines are boiled in soup with brown soy sauce, then dressed with starch, at last, a sprinkling of minced garlic.
Best places to taste stir-fried pork liver: Many locals like to eat "stir-fried" pork liver together with steamed buns. You can find the snack in many small restaurants. However, the most famous two are:
1. Yao Family Stir-Fried Pork Liver (姚记炒肝) Phone: 010-8401 0570
311 Gulou East Street, Dongcheng District (东城区鼓楼东大街311号)
2. Tianxingju Restaurant (天兴居) Phone: 010-6702 9329
73 Tiantan East Road, Chongwen District (崇文区天坛东路73号)
7. Boiled Lamb Tripe
Chinese name: 水爆肚 shuǐbàodǔ /shway-baoww-doo/
You might think that lamb tripe is not eatable. That is obviously wrong in Chinese food culture. In fact, lamb tripe can be made into very delicious dishes, known for their tenderness and crispness. In China, they are popularly eaten with wine.
The duration and degree of heating boiled lamb tripe is really strict. The cleaned sliced lamb tripe should be quickly boiled in high-temperature water for a certain time, which makes the lamb tripe nicely tender and crisp. After scooping it out of the high-temperature water, the ready-to-eat lamb tripe is mixed with sesame paste, soy sauce, sesame oil, fermented tofu, and shredded green onion.
How to eat boiled lamb stripe: Boiled lamb tripe should be eaten as soon as possible, because it will become very chewy when it is cold.
Best place to taste boiled lamb tripe: Besides boiled lamb tripe there is stir-fried lamp tripe and stewed lamb tripe. However, only boiled lamb tripe can be found on street stalls, but not in restaurants. Feng Family Boiled Lamb Tripe (爆肚冯) at Qianmen Street (前门大街) is the most famous and popular snack bar to taste this snack.
8. Tea Soup
Chinese name: 茶汤 chátāng /chaa-tang/
Beijing tea soup is also called Dragon Tea (龙茶) because the teapot for making it has a dragon-headed spout.
The processes of making a bowl of tea soup involes real skill. Some millet flour (or lotus root starch) and hot water are mixed well in a bowl, and then boiling water is poured repidly into the bowl using a fragon head teapot. The tea soup is brewed, and finally some brown sugar, sweet osmanthus sauce, peanuts, and raisins are added.
Best place to taste tea soup: One of the most famous places to taste Beijing tea soup is Juyuan House (聚元斋) in Qianmenwai(前门外).
9. Beijing Sausage
Chinese name: 灌肠 guàncháng /gwan-chung/
Beijing sausage is widely sold at markets and temple fairs, especially at night fairs.
The skin of the sausage is made of cleaned pork intestines, and the fillings is a paste made from mixed flour, red yeast rice powder, and a sauce. After cooking thoroughly, the sausage is sliced into pieces and fried in pork oil, and at last, sprinkled with a salty sauce and minced garlic.
The fragrant Beijing sausage tastes crisp and lightly spicy.
Best place to taste: Early in the 1930s, Heyi House (合义斋, located at 67-69 Huguosi Street, Xicheng District, 西城区护国寺大街67-69号) was famous for its signature snack— Beijing style sausage. Today, it has developed into a snack bar serving various traditional Beijing snacks.
10. Doornail Pasty
Chinese name: 门钉肉饼 méndīng ròubǐng /mnn-ding roh-bing/
This pancake got its name because of its doornail shape. Its making is almost the same as that of making a pasty. It has cylinder shape (about 3cm high). The fillings of the pasty are made of minced beef, egg, onion, and fresh ginger. A ready-to-eat doornail pasty is well fried with a golden skin.
Best place to taste doornail pasties: As for the Beijing sausage, Heyi House is also a good place to taste a doornail pasty.
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11. Sugarcoated Haws
Chinese name: 糖葫芦 (tánghúlu /tung-hoo-loo/)
Sugarcoated haws became popular in the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), when it was a most-loved children's snack. It is one of the most authentic Beijing snacks, a must-taste sweet developed from the simple sugar-covered hawthorn berries to a variety of candied fruits on a stick.
You can find vendors selling sugarcoated haws on Beijing snack streets, but also in some tea buildings, opera theaters, and temple fairs.
12. Rolling Donkeys (Glutinous Rice Rolls with Sweet Bean Flour)
Chinese name: 驴打滚儿
Lǘdǎgǔnr (lyoo-daa-gwerr), or "rolling donkeys", are glutinous rice rolls with sweet bean flour, one of the most established Beijing snacks, made of soybean flour mainly. The skin of a "rolling donkey" is yellow, so it looks like a donkey rolling about on the ground and kicking up a cloud of dust. It tastes sweet and sticky, with about three layers of sweet bean paste.
Best places to taste a rolling donkey: snacks shops, snack streets, supermarkets, and some restaurants
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