This post will be mostly about food. Apologies to those not interested in this topic. And a question: why are you not interested? What could possibly be more important than food? Sure music is important, but it’s pointless if you starve to death. And since you gotta eat, you might as well enjoy it.
A few days ago, tired of eating out at restaurants and tired of cooking for myself, I compromised and bought a roast chicken at this little shop. For about US$2 I got a small, very tasty bird that lasted me a couple of dinners. Not a bad deal at all.
And then yesterday, on the recommendation and encouragement of a surprising number of people, it was time to try lunch at this little place. Just inside the glass door, there is a cooler chest partly straddled by a cutting board where meat is carved up. As an added bonus, it was a nice sunny day.
Those who read Chinese might recognize the fifth and sixth characters in the rather long restaurant name. They are lü and rou. Rou means meat; lü means donkey. And that is their specialty, in the style of the province of Hebei.
It’s a pretty small place, though larger than it looks from the entrance. The little shop on the left only goes back as far as the wall you can see, and there’s an extra room to the restaurant behind it. The place was busy, and the only table we could find was in the back room, surrounded by ordinary working people. One of my companions was originally from Hebei, and she confirmed that the workers were from there – they were speaking in Hebei dialect rather than Standard Chinese.
The first part of the meal consisted of lürou soup, featuring a fair amount of liver as well as other parts I’d just as soon not speculate too closely upon. There is also a mushroom dish featuring mu’er (wood ear) and yin’er (silver ear) fungus along with carrot and a touch of dried hot red pepper. The other dish is bean curd strips with onion, carrot, green pepper and boiled peanuts.
The broth was very good, and the more meaty bits were fine, though I left behind some of the pieces that were just fat or chewy organ. The liver tasted pretty much like any other liver.
When we had nearly finished all our food, the other dish arrived. It’s very popular, and they sell it straight out the door (which is why the cutting board is out front), so we had to wait. It’s chopped donkey with onion tucked in a toasted bun, and it seems to be the specialty of the house. People were eating it at every table. It was served with little dishes of chopped garlic that you spoon onto it as you eat. Wonderful for the breath.
Aside from being a bit greasy, it was quite good, and I would definitely eat it again. I might skip the soup, but the other dishes were good. The meal was a little expensive by neighborhood standards: the three of us paid around US$6 total.
On the way back to the office after lunch, we encountered a little clump of people on the sidewalk.
It was a guy selling fish and other pets off a three-wheeler.
I was a little saddened to see he had little tiny bunnies, chipmunks, turtles and so on as well. I’ve heard stories about the rabbits dying within a week of purchase because they were taken from their mothers too young.
And now for a topic completely unrelated except that I took the pictures this week...
I walked home through Nanguan Park one evening and saw one of the park cats out in the drained “lake” getting a drink from a puddle. I paused to get out my camera, and it headed for cover.
It hopped up on one of the rocks, looked at me, and then disappeared. I went closer.
Somehow I had never noticed that the rocks were artificial. But with all the holes in them now, it was kind of hard to miss. Nice hiding place for cats.
Continuing my backwards journey through the last week, and returning to the subject of food, I find a picture of a new restaurant that just opened not far from where I live.
It’s called The Saddle, and you might guess it’s a Mexican place. You would be correct. So far, I’ve only had a margarita there, but I’ve been told the food is good as well. It’s run by a guy from Ohio. Go figure.
Enough for now. Cheers!