With a long history behind them, Beijing is a gourmet city like no other, but it’s the food you see on the street that you need to keep your eyes on. Beijing streets are littered with snack carts and bars, each offering some of the world’s best treats. We’ve rounded up five snacks you must try when you visit Beijing.
One of the best childhood memories for those who grew up in Beijing and the most famous sweet treats, Tanghulu, or candied fruit, is skewered Chinese hawthorn dipped in sugar syrup and later dried on a wooden board. Nowadays, people prefer to replace the traditional hawthorn with various modern fruit strawberry, kiwi and even pineapple.
- Rolling donkeys
Locally known as lǘ dǎ gǔn, rolling donkeys are glutinous rice rolls with sweet bean flour rolled with layers of glutinous yellow rice and red bean jam or brown sugar, and covered with soybean powder. This snack got its nickname from its visual – which is said to resemble a donkey rolling on the ground and kicking up dust. Nevertheless, it’s one of the most established Beijing snacks of all times.
- Street crepe
This old school crepe originated in Tianjin and popular in northern China. Street crepe, or jiānbǐng guǒzī as it’s more commonly known locally, is a popular breakfast food on cold winter days. To cook the crepe, the batter is poured and spread thinly on a flat iron plate, then egg, choice of sauce and vegetables are added before it’s folded into a wrap and served. It’s a great snack for vegetarians as the ingredients contain no meat elements.
A snack favoured by the royalties, aiwowo is steamed glutinous rice balls which are a mixture of sugar, nuts, green plums and osmanthus flowers, covered in flour and decorated with a red dot which is usually raw jelly. It’s said that this dessert was invented by the Hui people during the Qing dynasty secretly for the Fragrant Concubine of the Qianlong Emperor. According to another source, aiwowo appeared before the Ming dynasty and was once a halal food.
While douzhi is not exactly a snack, no trip to Beijing is complete without trying this milk. Douzhi, or mung bean milk is made from the fermented remnants of mung bean noodles. Since it’s fermented, the smell might be too overwhelming for newbies, but being able to enjoy a bowl of douzhi is the mark of a true Beijinger. Douzhi is usually accompanied by a small dish of pickled vegetables or jiao quan, a crispy deep fried batter.
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