Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Food Trips in Beijing at Nanluoguxiang and Wangfujing Night Market

I am really surprised to know that there are lots of things one can do in Beijing. I spent a lot of time thinking what to visit next, and yes, apparently, cheap and interesting food is something that always strikes people that I would likely have and experience whenever visiting a new city. I ended up visiting a hutong neighborhood close to my hostel and one of China’s famous night markets. I was certainly up for a look out for tasty yummy treats, that’s for sure.

china exotic food
exotic street food at Wangfujing Night Market

Twenty-minutes of walking and I arrived at this hutong neighborhood which is a type of traditional residential street at the Dongcheng District. I was there not only to see old siheyuan, courtyard residences that has distinct Chinese architecture, but also to see local culture and enjoy good food. Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷), which literally means South Gong and Drum Lane, has been on protected status by the government since 1990 to preserve the one-kilometer hutong area that have not been modernized yet.

red lanters around the street of Nanluoguxiang

I noticed that the area is very commercialized and popular with locals. I felt like somehow I was still at the old streets of Pingyao since the architecture and design of whole area looks very old-fashioned, though the stores are more hip and modern. Foodies would probably take one whole day to explore the tons of food choices available in the area. Restaurants and food stalls are more geared to what’s in and popular right now, I noticed that takoyaki, chicken chops and fruit juices are really popular. Family restos that offer different Chinese cuisine are dime a dozen and there were also few joints that offered Western and Japanese food. Clothing stores and bars are scattered around Nanluoguxiang in case you want to observe modern Chinese culture.

nanluoguxiang beijing
candy shop and a horror 5D movie house, hmmm
cooool shirts and bags!

I headed afterwards to another similar street famous for its unique food offerings. Wangfujing (王府井) which is also located at the Dongcheng District. This is one of China’s most famous shopping streets that has been pedestrianized in order to accommodate tourists and pedestrians similar to Qianmen Street’s set-up. The 800-meter walking street is home to many famous Chinese and International fashion brands. The area is engaging either you come during day or night and it’s really kind of awesome to think that it also has full of history, even dating 700 years back. By morning, I was able to explore the malls around the area though sadly I wasn’t able to buy anything because they were tad bit pricey for me.

the big shopping malls of Wangfujing

The sun has just set when I found out about Wangfujing’s Food Street (王府井小吃街  Wángfǔjǐng xiǎochī jiē) which was not really intentional and not even part of my itinerary. I ventured on to check out if there would be any interesting dishes to try out. Turns out, I just came to the right place.

Wangfujing Night Market
the big arch that also serves as entrance to the market

Now I remember seeing this place being featured on tons of TV shows featuring exotic street foods around Asia, so I decided to actually spend two evenings exploring food options. The market is open from 6:00 PM to 9:30 PM and most of the sellers can converse Basic English, or at least understand your haggling gestures (it is a place of business and there is still that big handy calculator after all) so walking around should be a breeze.

Wangfujing Market
classic Chinese chuanr, want to try?

One of the common but very popular fare is the chuanr which is meat stuck on skewers, similar to the barbeque of the Philippines. While they have the typical beef chuanr, the most bizarre selections are available here at Wangfujing! Octopus, scorpions, seahorses, centipedes, starfishes, cicadas, bettles, snake, the wildest things you can dream (or not) of eating, they have it right there on their tiny bamboo sticks still wriggling and moving, waiting to be cooked. Though I don’t think most of the people who go here really eat them, most of them just take pictures (like what I did), or buy, take pictures, then throw them off somewhere. It seems to me that it’s something that helps drive more tourists to Wangfujing.

Wangfujing Night Market beijing

Some of the Chinese street food that I became fond of is tanghulu, fruits on a stick covered with thick congealed sugar syrup, Chinese-style yogurt that I had a chance of being acquainted with at my first day in Xian, and that smoky and spicy beef or pork chuanr. It would be actually nice to hang out with a local while wandering off here, might be good to ask their opinion what are the must try’s and what to avoid.

candy china
tanghalu, such eye candies!
yogurt china
one of my favorite drinks in China, their local yogurt! I can still remember the taste hayyyyyy... craving

Somehow, this snack street was a bit similar to Xian’s Muslim Street minus the exotic street food, because aside from grub selections, they also have souvenirs being sold everywhere. So if you’re like me who likes to do their pasalubong shopping on the last minute, this is the place to be! Always use your haggling skills and you’ll find out the prices here are almost similar to the wholesalers on other parts of Beijing.

Wangfujing Night Market beijing
cute piglets!
china Night Market
popular drink also in China
I bought my souvenirs at Wangfujing because I can buy stuff at almost 80% off their selling price

Wangfujing and Nanluoguxiang were certainly a first for me and it was a real fun adventure strolling through its streets and just trying food that looks yummy to my eyes. The options are just limitless! And to think there are tons of these kind of “foodie” streets around the city, I would love to spend another week or so just exploring the gastronomical feats they have in there. Be sure to put these two places on your list when going to Beijing!

How to go to Nanluoguxiang:
Take the subway, you may exit at either Nanluoguxiang or Beixinqiao Station.

How to go to Wangfujing Night Market:
Alight at Wangfujing Station then walk for about 300-500 meters
Look for the traditional archway with characters 王府井小吃街 (Wángfǔjǐng xiǎochī jiē) written on it

Day 1: Datong
City Tour

Day 2: Datong
Yungang Grottoes

Hanging Monastery

Day 3: Pingyao
City Tour

Day 4: Pingyao
City Tour and Attractions

Day 5: Pingyao

Day 6: Xi'An
City Tour

Day 7: Xi'An
Yangling Mausoleum

Day 8: Xi'An
Terracotta Army

Day 9: Beijing
Qianmen Street/798 Art District

Day 10: Beijing

Forbidden City

Day 11: Beijing
Summer Palace

Day 12: Beijing
Great Wall

Railway Train Experience
Standing, Hard Seats, Sleepers

12 Day Trip
Itinerary & Budget

More of China here

1 comment :

  1. Wangfujing is best explored at night by walking. Can't wait to share my adventures in Wangfujing too in my travel blog.


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