Recently I came across three nice dishes, all not far from BLCU – the university I go to.
The first one is a dish I have known for a long time. In Chinese it’s called 铁板牛柳 (tiě bǎn niú liú) and it’s made of beef tenderloins and green pepper slices over a bed of onion served in a sizzling hot iron plate. This dish is very common. It should be on the menu of every jiachangcai restaurant and since it’s made with beef it’s also found in Muslim restaurants as well. This dish has many variations. In some variations (which I personally find less tasty) there’s no green peppers and instead the meat is covered in a ketchup based orange sweet and sour sauce. The reason it took me so long to write about this dish is because it’s very steamy and therefore quite hard to shoot, so it took me a while to take a decent photo of this dish:
The full name of the dish above is 铁板黑椒牛柳 (tiě bǎn hēi jiāo niú liú) and what I like about it is the addition of black pepper (黑椒) and the absence of the orange sauce. I had it in a restaurant inside BLCU which located in the school’s conference center (会议中心 – huì yì zhōng xīn).
The second dish has a very interesting name which derives from its rather unusual look. 松鼠鱼 (sōng shǔ yú) literally mean squirrel fish but it has nothing to do with the actual fish known by this name. The name squirrel fish is supposed to describe the way the fish is cut and looks on the plate:
I personally think it looks more like a pine cone than a squirrel and since 松鼠 (squirrel) deconstructed is ‘pine-mouse’ I may have a case too. This dish also has many variations but the most common one is made with carp and tastes sweet and sour. If you’re like me, and you don’t like to eat fish because of all the hassle, you have one more reason to like this dish – it’s relatively bone-free. I tried this dish recently in a place called 禾地 (hé dì) inside the Geo-science University across the street from BLCU. Hedi is probably the best jiachangcai restaurant in Wudaokou and I go there often. In fact, most of the photos in the app were taken there.
The last dish I want to recommend today is a simple dish I found on a Chengdu Xiaochi place also in the area. It is 腊肉炒饼 (là ròu chǎo bǐng) which combines two of my favorites things – fried shredded bread and salt cured meat.
I have been to China for six years now and the first time I notice this dish on the menu was only a week ago, so I’m not sure how common it is. But if you are in a xiaochi place which serves bacon fried rice and chaobing you might as well try your luck and ask for a 腊肉炒饼.
Speaking of dining not far from my school, something rather amusing happened the other day when I was having lunch with a few of my classmates. The funniest part happened only in my head but I will let you guys in there.
It was a nice day so we sat outside when all of a sudden three teachers from our school came out of the restaurant. One of them taught me 人文地理 (geography and culture class) about a year ago. I found him and his class rather interesting. Like many other 50 years old Chinese man he has a head full of hair dyed carefully to dark black. Almost as dark as the inner sense of humor I am about to give you a demonstration of. I haven’t had much dealings with him after the course was over, just the occasional semi-nod semi-bow every once and again in the hall. But this time when our eyes met, his face lit up as if he just remembered something. He ignored all the others and turned directly to me (in Chinese):
– Hey you are from Israel, right?
– Yes, I am. (We’re in China, it’s safe to admit that)
– Excellent! Jewish, yes?
– Yes…? (OMG, is he an undercover rabbi? How did that bacon get here?)
– Good! Do you know any other Jews that study here in our school? I need to know how many Jews we have here in the school.
– I might know a couple. May I ask why? (and declare DEFCON 4?)
– Let’s just say I am working on a very interesting project.
At this point I wanted to tell him that we Jews tend to get a bit nervous whenever someone makes an inquiry about our numbers in a certain place, because judging from history it never ends well for us, and the last time it happened we got burnt really bad.
I wanted to but I didn’t. I wasn’t sure my Chinese was good enough to carry this highly charged joke. Plus, I knew that in the best case scenario this joke would fly straight over his head, and in the worst case scenario he would take me seriously an start apologizing all the way through my weekend.
He was in a hurry and didn’t wait for my response.
– What year are you now? 4th year first semester? Great! I will find you!
So far he hasn’t contacted me. Maybe after the holiday.
Here’s a map showing the location of the three restaurants mentioned in this post.