Yesterday was just one of those meant-to-be days. When I left the house in the morning I saw my camera lying on the floor. “Shall I take it?” I thought to myself. “I’m only going for a short job interview but what the hell…”. I didn’t even see what the weather was like outside but as it turned out, that small decision completely change the course of my day.
It was a beautiful day outside. One of those days the sky looks like the gods woke up and decided to hold a paintball match of the white team Vs the blue team. I checked the pollution level on my cellphone. It showed 36 which is so rare I actually refreshed it several times just to be sure. Nope, no mistake – thirty six. I got on my bike and buried my anti-pollution mask deep inside my backpack.
Beijing Olympic Park
My interview was at Yayuncun, right next to the Olympic Green. Though I had a ton of homework waiting on my desk, I decided I couldn’t let this day go to waste. I have been meaning to write a post about this park for a long time. I fell in love with it during the Olympic Games of 2008 and the only beef I have with this place is there’s not enough food inside. There are only snacks but no place to have an actual meal. My original plan was to scout for good restaurants in the park’s vicinity and recommend them here but fate had other plans.
As I was wondering through the park taking photos of the venues I came a cross a huge tent. The sign above the entrance said “The Fifth Beijing Olympic Park Food Plaza”. I just had to go in and check it out. Inside there was food from all over China and local Beijing treats as far as my eyes could see (which wasn’t that far – I forgot my glasses). The familiar noodles, rice, chuanrs, baozi and jiaozi along with bunch of other stuff, some I have heard of before and some I didn’t recognized at all. I have been to Chinese food markets before and this was definitely one of the best. Here’s a quick visual taste of my yesterday (both inside and outside the food court):
What I Tried
There’s was just too much food for me to try in one visit. The first thing I tried was meat rolls call Dalian Huoshao (褡裢火烧 – dā lián huǒ shāo). They are not named after the city of Dalian but after the long bag they remind people of. Huoshao is the Chinese tortilla (also used to make donkey meat sandwiches). It was rather a plain snack so I decided my next one should be more interesting and challenging. Therefore I approached a stand which had this in the front:
I thought these were lumps of pure fat but I was way off. Turned out it was made from gourd and green beans and had no meat at all (I was actually kind of relieved because I hate fat). It is served with majiang, chili paste, vinegur, minced garlic and coriander (all optional). It was good and both the texture and the taste reminded me of liangpi noodles. After that I had a 10 kuai chuar which was totally not worth it. For dessert I had deep fried durian and fresh coconut juice. Everything I tried has a photo in the gallery above.
Things I Didn’t Try (but wanted to)
Another dish that caught my eye was the Buddha Jumps over the Wall. I didn’t try it because it was rather expensive (35 yuan) and because I heard you should really have in a place where people know what they’re doing because it’s a dish not to be cooked lightly. In good restaurant this dish costs several hundreds yuan at least. There was also the zhajiangmian which I haven’t in over a year, the magic 8ball porridge, traditional Tianjin Goubuli (狗不里) which is a type of baozi known for its thin skin with exactly 18 folds on top, but I guess they, and a bunch of other stuff, will have to wait.
Beijing Olympic Park Food Plaza will be held until October 7th. This means there’s a window of just a little over two weeks, but of those weeks is the National Day golden week so place will probably be packed. If I were you I would try to get there before that. The park is open everyday from 09:00 to 21:00.
Getting there is easy. Subway line 8 has three different stops in the south, center and north sections of the park. Food Plaza is located in the center of the park between the Bird’s Nest and Ling Long Pagoda (see A and F in the map below):
The entrance to the park is completely free. You only need to buy tickets for venues it’s optional. Bird’s Nest ticket cost 50-80 yuan and Water Cube ticket costs 30 yuan. Bear in mind the venues close earlier than the park. As for the food plaza itself, it’s not on the cheap side. I spent 70 kuai for the five things I had there. You also need put in a 10 kuai deposit for the card you pay with but you get that back.
Do yourselves a favor, go there as a big group and you wont regret it.