Traveling on Tastebuds

(Reported on the program ‘Touch Beijing’ on Radio Beijing International on 25/07/2017)

Not only Beijing is a city with long history, in recent years it has also developed into a melting pot where you can find people from all walks of life – and a place of diversity in dining. On her first trip to Beijing, our Hong Kong Intern Reporter Richelia Yeung has changed her mind about the dining experience in here and discovered that this city could be the next best travel destination for foodies.

In the past, the first thing that pops up in my head when it comes to dining in Beijing was, of course, Peking duck. But I thought, well, I can’t be eating Peking duck for two months straight! As somebody who loves traveling, one of the many joys of going abroad is getting to enjoy the delicious food. Therefore, to scratch my travel itch, I’ve decided to look for some nice and authentic international cuisines in this city.

With over 90,000 restaurants, it was never difficult to look for good food in Beijing. When I first arrived in here, dianping.com was a pleasant surprise and a great way to discover new restaurants in town. Apart from that, lifestyle magazines such as TimeOut, The Beijinger and That’s Beijing have been running their food awards for years, providing a guide for both local and foreign foodies.

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Gail is the Israeli host of ‘FM Lifestyle’ at Radio Beijing International. As a professional foodie, she has introduced many restaurants in Beijing to her audience. She was even invited to food tasting sessions of restaurants to give out comments for their menus.

“The fine dining is mostly in hotels,” she said. “But if you go a level or two levels lower to the mid-range or higher mid-range, you have a lot more options when it comes to the independent ones.”

Gail isn’t the only foreigner who chooses to settle down in Beijing. Ally from Bangkok is also one of them.

“I have been to China for at least four or five times and I have tried some Thai food that doesn’t taste like Thai food at all,” she said.

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Therefore, she opened a Thai restaurant called Sa Thi last year, hoping to bring some real Thai food to the big city.

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Not just foreigners, locals can also bring authentic international cuisines to our neighborhood. Mulat from Istanbul Restaurant went to study cookery in Turkey before coming back to China and bringing us some traditional Turkish dishes.

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“For our meat, we don’t put any additives in it. With Turkish seasonings such as rosemary and fennel, we can already make some really nice roast meat. We also choose to cook our dishes with well-selected lamb and beef to guarantee we are making some high-quality cuisines. For example, we are using some nice beef blades to make our döner kebabs.”

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We always say that Beijing is a city that gathers people of different ethnicities. In fact, there are also people of diverse religious backgrounds. When it comes to dining for Jewish people, they follow a dietary law of kosher. Dini’s Kosher Restaurant is the only kosher restaurant in Beijing, providing both Israeli and Chinese food for their customers.

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You might ask, “What is kosher food?” Dini explained that there are a few rules.

“We don’t mix milk and meat,” she said. “Kosher meats are only certain animals, for example, beef, chicken and lamb. They have to be killed in a special way that is not as painful for the animal.”

Dini said when her family first came to Beijing they could not find anything kosher. Now more and more factories are producing for exports so they are asking for a rabbi to check their factories, making it easier for Dini to look for kosher food.

The word restaurant is generally associated with food, but the food is not the only thing we are looking for – the interior designs are very important as well. Istanbul Restaurant has put up various Turkish home decorations inside their restaurant, making customers feel like they are truly dining in Turkey. It also attracted some Turkish locals to dine here to get a taste of home.

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Not only restaurant is a place to dine at, it is also a place full of knowledge and culture. Upstairs of Dini’s Kosher Restaurant, there is a Sino-Judaic Museum, built in the memory of the Jewish community in China.

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“I didn’t know about the Jewish people in China so I started to do some research, and I found many communities,” she said. “I was amazed because there was hardly anything documented.”

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“China has been a safe home for Jewish people for hundreds of years.” She thinks building this Sino-Judaic Museum is a way to pay tribute to the community.

Gail said we could expect more locals opening restaurants that offer foreign cuisines in town.

“When you said ‘Chinese-owned foreign restaurant’ we usually rate it at the lowest level of quality of food,” she said. “But now we see some great Chinese entrepreneurs opening world cuisines in here. They went over to countries like Canada, the U.S. or Australia, spent many years in local kitchens and they came back to China with first-hand experience and a lot of knowledge.”

Food is exposing people to different cultures. No matter where you are from, food always has the meaning of hospitality and the expression of friendship. With plenty of restaurants offering delicacies worldwide in this city, it is broadening our horizons to appreciate customs and traditions other than our own.

At the end of the day, you cannot compare dining in an international restaurant with the real deal of travelling. But as I’m patiently waiting for the airline promotions, I’ll stay right in Beijing and let my taste buds take me on a trip around the world.

Read the original article here.

This article is also featured in read01.com, read here.

(Reported by Radio Beijing International Intern Reporter Richelia Yeung)

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