Monday, 23 January 2012

vegan peking duck for cny

little bags of gold

Just home from an amazing dinner at Baihe for CNY. Mandarins for starters (and finishes, and prosperity), then noodles, potatoes, gailan, pipa chicken, and the most amazing duck and pancakes:

vegan duck for cny

Highly recommend, would eat again.

On the way home I passed so many fireworks and firecrackers and one lonely red lantern, drifting slowly into the sky and out of sight. My camera's no good for capturing these sorts of things, but I leave you with this, from the driveway to our apartment complex:

firecrackers in front of the apartment #2

恭喜发财!新年快乐!Reports of temple fair food tomorrow, after I've eaten it.

previous visit (includes Englishness, directions and accessibility details)

Baihe Vegetarian / Lily's Vegetarian / 百合素食
23 Caoyuan Hutong
off dongzhimen nei bei xiaojie
Dongcheng District


Friday, 20 January 2012

timezone 8 [798, beijing]


I really like 798, the art district of Beijing. I've been there twice now (photos), and the second time was even more fun than the first, I came home with all sorts of art and had a really great afternoon. It's not the sort of place you can visit just once and be done with it, it's always evolving and it's massive and it's tiring.

On this visit we wandered in to Timezone 8, a gallery, restaurant, bar and bookshop. There's a soy latte on the menu and vegetarian pasta that I could get without the cheese, and given I thought I was going to be in a vegan wasteland I was happy already.

pasta at timezone 8

The pasta (eggplant, tomato and mushroom) was okay. It wasn't spectacular (the eggplant was a little tough), and the coffee was average, but Emilly said her pasta was good (vego not vegan) and her juice was excellent. We were seated at the bar and they juiced the watermelon in front of her! Service was friendly and helpful. I plan to take several of my visitors over the next eight months to 798, so it's good to know there's somewhere I can get food with minimal hassle.

The menu is in Chinese and English, the waitstaff speak a little English.

Timezone 8
4 Jiuxianqiao Lu (opposite UCCA)

Get there on the 401 bus. Steps to enter, nice lighting (during the day).

Monday, 16 January 2012

revolutionary tofu

At my workplace we have some very traditional food coming out of the kitchen, traditional in the sense of since the Cultural Revolution. A lot of the dishes we eat at work became common during the CR because they're fast, simple and nutritious, making use of the ingredients to hand and the conditions available. I plan to make a whole blog post about the food that gets dished up in the work cafeteria, which has been integral to introducing me to a whole lot of Northern Chinese food that I'm just completely unfamiliar with (being familially from a Southern province; and worse, being more immediately South-East Asian).

I've become a bit obsessed with this tofu dish, which made an appearance on my first trip to the cafeteria. I eagerly look forward to each reappearance, and finally I gave it a go recently. It's so simple it doesn't need a recipe, though I found a reference to it in The Cultural Revolution Cookbook, a cookbook I would seriously consider buying except it's still got a whole lot of meat in it.

cr tofus

sesame tofu with spring onion
recipe helped by the cultural revolution cookbook

This makes a great side dish or salad to a flavoursome meal. I've been eating it in winter but look forward to serving it as a summer salad. I know it sounds plain and boring (and the picture doesn't help) but the sesame oil does something magical to the tofu that makes it very moreish. You may want to adjust the amount of sesame oil you use depending on your tastes, and you could also sprinkle some sesame seeds on the top.

1 x 300g block of firm tofu
1 or 2 stems of spring onion
2 teaspoons sesame oil

method: In the microwave, heat the tofu whole (and drained and rinsed) until it's pleasantly warm to the touch; should need no longer than a minute. Alternatively, soak the tofu in hot water for a minute or two. In the meantime, slice the spring onion small and on an angle, along the bias. Use the green and the white parts! Combine the sesame oil, spring onions and salt. Dice the tofu into chunks about half an inch across, and mix the oil through a little roughly - the tofu can break apart somewhat. Serve warm.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

baihe vegetarian [百合素食] [dongcheng, beijing]

After a long exhausting day out in the outskirts of Beijing (1.5 hours on the subway south of the city), no lunch, and three hours of facilitating a large group of people all on my own, I was so hungry I could barely talk, so Emilly met me at Baihe Vegetarian, less than a ten minute walk away from my apartment. We sat down and started picking food quickly, so I could eat as soon as possible.

satay noodles delicious curry at beihe

We ordered the satay noodles, the chicken curry, and the dry roast potatoes. These came out rapidly, delicious and warm. The dry roast potatoes, despite being neither dry nor roasted, were my favourite. They were served in a tasty, mild sauce, in a platter with a flame underneath to keep it bubbling away. The noodles and the chicken were nothing to scoff at, though the potatoes in the curry were a tad underdone. They all were delicious though, and exactly what I needed after a long day of no food.

dry roast potatoes

I really enjoyed Baihe and, with its close proximity to my house, is a place I plan to revisit for sure. Prices are moderate, about 130Y including fresh juices. Service is friendly and helpful.

Baihe Vegetarian / Lily's Vegetarian / 百合素食
23 Caoyuan Hutong
off dongzhimen nei bei xiaojie
Dongcheng District


Take line 2 to Dongzhimen station, exit D or B, walk directly West along Dongzhimen inner, at the first major intersection turn right. Caoyuan Hutong is the second alley on your left. The menu has English subtitles (and pictures!), access includes a step up and a step down and several ledges in the way. There is a toilet on the premises. Staff don't speak English.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

veggie table ii [lama temple area, beijing]

After a massive NYE and needing to recover all day Sunday, we ventured out to nearby Veggie Table for a continuation of the recover process on Monday for lunch. I'd been hoping for the mushroom burger, all burgery and chips and mushroom is my hangover meal of choice, but alas it was not to be, for in the new year's rush they were all out of mushroom burgers.

eggplant and potato pizza

So I went the pizza route instead (spurred on by Lainie and Alaine who had stayed in the entirety of the previous day, and ordered in two large pizzas they ate by themselves). The pizza at Veggie Table is eggplant, potato and onion, with the eggplant present in the form of baba ghanoush spread across the base, giving it a thick, moist underlayer underneath all that onion and potato. It was greasy and rich and delicious. I've never even considered such a thing before, baba ghanoush instead of tomato paste, and I would eat it again for sure, but maybe I will share it with someone. I had to go for a walk afterwards to work it off.

latte with coconut milk

I supplemented it with a coconut milk latte. Served in a massive mug, this coffee has just a hint of coconut to it, beautifully supplementing the coffee, and it was exactly what I wanted.

previous visit (includes accessibility and english details)

veggie table
19 Wudaoying Hutong
Lama Temple Area
Dongcheng District

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

grilled vegetable pasta

One thing I don't get a whole lot of in Beijing is pasta - vegan pasta is difficult to come by in restaurants (though Veggie Table has a couple on the menu that I'd like to sample), and it can be hard to purchase dried pasta. A lot of the really big supermarkets stock a little, though, if they have a 'foreign' section, and of course there are my semi-regular visits to April Gourmet (a Western supermarket near my Chinese school).

Craving pasta, I recently put together this from things mostly picked up at April Gourmet: spirals, a tin of tomatoes, and a small takeaway container of grilled vegetables. It's pricy for a home-cooked meal (about 17Y for the pack of pasta, 15Y for the tomatoes, and 22Y for the veggies), but it was exactly what I wanted. Sometimes a little pasta when you're far away from home is what you really want.

roast vegetable pasta

grilled vegetable pasta

Super simple! Set enough pasta for two people on to boil. Slice half a spanish onion, and fry in a little olive oil. When it's softened, add some dried oregano and a little dried chilli, a minced garlic clove, and quickly follow it up with a tin of tomatoes, and leave to simmer for five minutes. Then add all your grilled vegetables, heat through, stir through some nutritional yeast, mix it through with the pasta and serve it all up.

It was worth it to cart that packet of nutritional yeast flakes all the way from Melbourne.