One of Hunter’s all time favorite things to do in Beijing is eat Jian Bing. For a kid who prides himself on how many three star restaurants he’s been to, this is a funny choice. Jian Bing is quintessential street food, cheap and vaguely mysterious. Last week Hunter took Jack and I for “lunch” at his favorite vendor.
This stall sells two variations of the Jian Bing. The traditional one, which kind of resembles a crepe…. Batter is smeared on a round grill, then an egg is broken and spread on top… while this cooks various things can be added…. veggies, a piece of chicken, a dodgy looking piece of hot dog, secret topping, spicy sauce…. and some green onion and lettuce. They also add a crunchy fried piece of dough to the center before folding the whole thing in four and sliding it into a very very thin plastic baggy.
The other type begins with a ready cooked thick pancake about the size of standard pita bread. It is heated on the grill, flipped over and filled with the same choice of condiments as the other one. It too is handed to one in the extremely delicate plastic bag. I can’t believe it didn’t melt. Luckily it was freezing cold out and we were delighted to warm our hands cause they are very hot!
Hunter ordered one of each with chicken and no spice (he says once you add the spice it’s all you can taste!). He did this all in Chinese… I, the proud mother, was very impressed and thought all that money we are paying in tuition may actually be well spent! It takes about 30 seconds from when you order until your treat is delivered. Hunter asked how much and then stuck 20 rmb in a bucket and pulled out two 1 rmb notes. It cost us a grand total of just under $3.
No wonder they are so popular among locals! There are hundreds of little carts all over Beijing selling Jian Bing, but not many foreign customers. Most people eat them for breakfast, but you see Beijingers buying them all day long. Hunter and his friends eat them when they are out at night. Many inexpensive local restaurants also offer a version.
Our Jian Bing were surprisingly tasty and filling! I eat street food all over the world often with dire consequences. I am very pleased to say we had no unpleasant side effects at all from these and have added a trip to the Jing Bian cart to our list of things we must do with visitors… It is the real China!